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David Critchley
The work of David Critchley occupies a very particular place in the hearts and minds of those who grow up with the early phase of British video art at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s.

In many ways, the first sight of this energetic and telegenic man, playing conceptual games with the camera in his performance and video works reminded many of us that video art could be both smart and edgy. Revisiting these pieces, most of which were created in the infancy of the artform, it's perhaps a surprise that so many of them continue to resonate, but there does remain a very strong sense of new ideas evolving in front of the camera as many video-specific concepts of creation, recording and replaying are proclaimed and expounded. It's also hard to divorce the man from the moment as Critchley's career tracks closely the emergence of the medium of video art in the UK. Firstly as one of those who had early use of the technology while emerging through art school, but also through being closely involved in the early testing of models of distribution and exhibition that led to the creation of organisations such as London Video Arts.

Critchley graduated from the Fine Art course at Newcastle Polytechnic in 1975 where he was one of the first generation of video artists to develop their skills within the evolving ethos of media arts. At that time the course was led by the influential (and late lamented) Stuart Marshall and was positioned in a context which saw other artists based in the north-east of England beginning to explore ideas in this new medium and develop some of the first group shows of work. After finishing at Newcastle Critchley left for London to take up a place on the three-year MA course at the Royal College of Art and arrived fresh from already having just taken part in a landmark exhibition. This show - 'The Video Show' - took place at the Serpentine Gallery in London in May 1975, and is now widely credited with being the early marker for video art in the UK. It was a wide ranging show organised by a small group including Peter Bloch, Sue Grayson, David Hall, Stuart Hood and Clive Scollay. The show featured installations, performances and single screen works by a range of British artists including Roger Barnard, David Hall, Tamara Krikorian, Brian Hoey, Steve Partridge, Stuart Marshall, Alex Meigh, Liz Rhodes, Reindeer Werk, Steve James, Mike Leggett, Peter Livingstone, Tony Sinden and David Critchley. It was out of this group that many of the threads of the subsequent development of British video art emerged.

Still from Memory 1 & 2 by David Critchley, 1977
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