The Millinery Works had the honour of hosting a retrospective of Bratby's work in 2002, of which a selection of the featured works are shown below.
He was one of Britain’s post-war ‘Angry Young Men’. Titles from the Movements books, plays and film – ‘Billy Liar’, ‘Look Back in Anger’, ‘Room at the Top’ et al – are more familiar than ‘The Toilet’, ‘Milk Bottles’, ‘Back Garden’, ‘Hardy Road’, and further in-yer-face output by painter John Bratby.
Vigour, not subtlety, was the name of the game. Like vanGogh – whose work Bratby would increasingly echo – brushwork was conspicuous, and impasto slapped on so aggressively that it stood out in lumps. The subject matter for which Bratby and his ‘kitchen sinkl’ colleagues are most remembered are domestic squalor and sordid scenarios from the inner city – just the thing to nail over your mantelpiece.
Yet he was much admired by Beatles, notably Stuart Sutcliffe – who, as an art student, ‘aped Bratby’s expressionist style and “realist” content’ – and Paul McCartney, whose sole quote in the book captions the back cover.
We owe, in part, the recent ART of Paul McCartney exhibitions in part, to the late kitchen sinker’s encouragement. There’s also a 1967 portrait of the future knight among those of other celebrities by one who comes across in this thoroughly-researched, profusely illustrated and, ultimately absorbing biography
Peter Davies, 2002
'Girl in the Wood'
'Nude Girl Reclining in a Coffin' 122 x 91.5 cm, Oil on Canvas
'Still Life with Melon', oil on board, 8 x 18cm, 1956
'Brixham Harbour at Night', 24 x 18, oil on canvas, 1975,
'Milk Bottles' oil on canvas, 16 x 20cm, 1954
'Bower's Droop', oil on canvas, 30 x 24, 1960.