Howard Romp - projects
Below are some general themes Howard explored throughout his career. They were not entirely discrete; they often overlapped and inter-mingled.
Howard started making art works based on shop windows whilst still at Camberwell School of Art. They seemed to him to encapsulate current urban culture. Some windows were so tightly packed with boxes and bottles that they seemed analogous to Cubist painting. He later became interested in the implied drama between mannequin, window dressers and passers-by.
The 1960s saw the start in the massive growth in road transport and its contribution to the human environment. Howard has made many works that used traffic, motor vehicles and life on the road generally to express a wide range of ideas as well as simply celebrating the ‘beauty’ of the mechanized world.
MEN AND MACHINES
We are in or on our machines. We become part of them. They are the world we inhabit and we cannot escape. Howard made many works and devised performances on this theme. Our abuse of our home, the planet Earth, is always implicit in this work.
WHO AM I, WHAT AM I?
A questioning thread about existence runs throughout Howard’s work. Starting with themes found in mythology, this on-going project developed into a constant wish to present himself as a sentient, wondering being locked inside an incomprehensible existence.
He made many collages from flattened packaging, which led to large canvases on this theme. He made works that played with patterns of light and shade in the urban environment, imagining life in a box or in a packaged and compartmentalized world. Several performances grew out of all this. Ecological concerns are, again, always present.
TOWERS OF STEAM
Cooling towers are things of beauty, which can convey monumental ideas. Howard has used these towers to develop and express his continual quest to comprehend the human situation. The shadows of steam on their sides seem like our faint perception of what is actual reality, whereas the really real floats above in their cloudy emissions. Some, resulting work was two dimensional, other in relief, all leading to a performance about a climber, who upon reaching the cloudy height above the tower, falls to his certain death.
A name coined by Howard for his small assemblages made from everyday bits and pieces found in the home and workshop. They are often comments about the process of making art: disparate items brought together to make a never formerly existing artefact with its own incorruptible integrity. He has fun with this, but not without solemn intention! Performances took place with the objects being the real characters in the play with the actors accommodating their needs.
IN THE FOLD OF THE CANVAS
This most recently manifested theme represents years of using ideas arising from many years of camping holidays. Still, Howard is at pains to maintain loyalty to his life-long theme of ‘Who am I, what am I?’. The tent: a temporary habitation while we knock about seeing the sights. Some say our bodies are temporary accommodation, while on this Earth, for our souls. Discuss!
OBJECTS AND ME
From 2011 Howard become more interested his relationship with objects, found, or in everyday use. He has been exploring how different, contrasting processes can play off each other within the same artwork in order to convey sentiments about these objects. He is using drawings, colour studies, photographs and plaster casts (of the objects' impressions in clay). These are often all suspended on an unlikely object itself (e.g. a compact disc storage tower).
Throughout Howard’s career, he has devised performances, which hare usually related to his own visual art work. This approach was originally developed in the 70s when he undertook an experimental, educational project ‘Tableaux Vivants’ at the Cockpit Arts Workshop, and the Tate Gallery, London. Famous paintings were explored by building installations and performing within them.