Borstal Spots & Polka Dots

Emerging London talent Richie Culver's poignant collage work


Master of manipulation Richie Culver, with his arsenal of old photos and sharp-witted text, creates artwork with the one-two punch of a compelling soundbite that probes into both famous and more intimate historical moments. While the works function as pop homages too, his piece “Have You Ever Really Loved Anyone?”—an iconic image of Jesse Owens with those words plastered across—was the highlight of the May 2010 group show at the Tate Modern and suggests the dual forces at play.

Culver, who had rockstar dreams of his own, turns his song titles and lyrics into paintings and collage, a selection of which is currently on view in his debut solo show “Borstal Spots & Polka Dots.”


Also included in the exhibit are a smattering of Culver’s own photographs he’s taken over the years. The black-and-white collection is not too different from his textual works though, with each perfectly composed image functioning as one sentence from a much larger conversation.


A majority of his work seemingly revolves around love and relationships—a concept clearly demonstrated in the painting “I Loved You, You Just Couldn’t See It” but also in collage form. An image of a nun states “One fuck and she was anybody’s,” while the picture of a bride reads “aware of the ways of men.” Culver titles an alarming photo of a pouty-lipped woman with scars up her arm simply, “A love story.”


With a show dedicated solely to his personal photos planned for late 2010 and a cover shot for the forthcoming I Blame Coco album Constant hitting shelves soon, Culver continues to explore concepts that speak to his roots.

Reviewed on Le Cool as “A small, but moving show,” Culver’s “Borstal Spots & Polka Dots” runs through 26 September at London’s West 11 Gallery.