Wild Willy Barrett at the Arundel Festival

Wild Willy Barrett
Wild Willy Barrett

Rock and pop legend Wild Willy Barrett shows another side to his talents with a stint at this year’s Arundel Gallery Trail.

Willy, who made the headlines through his partnership with John Otway and the single Really Free back in the 70s, is showing his work in wood at the gallery trail’s venue number 5 at 10 Queen Street.

Willy continues his partnership with Otway and also enjoys success with Wild Willy Barrett’s French Connection. But for almost 30 years, he’s been quietly creating individually-designed pieces of woodwork using an unusual sculpted plywood technique.

Willy was originally inspired by the words of Graham Caine of The Bristol Gnomes who introduced himself to Willy at a gig in 1985 with the words: “We do to wood what you do to music.”

A common bond was formed, and Willy went on to become involved in the construction of a complete sculpted stage set including a number of original and unusual musical instruments which went on to spawn the album Organic Bondage in 1986.

As Willy says, in wood, as in music, it’s all about ploughing his own furrow.

Willy spends most of his time in Normandy these days – though still gigs over here: “It is difficult to gig in France. There just isn’t the gigging culture we have got in England. The only time you get music is when there is also food involved or if there is a meal going on, so we have started doing a few gigs back in England.”

As for the woodwork: “I have done all sorts over the years. I did a little bit of interior work on somebody’s range rover. We did a bar in a house in north London, and I did a dentist surgery’s reception.

“I just do things all the time. Things turn up. I have borrowed a few things of mine for the exhibition in Arundel. There is one piece I have just finished, a large mirror. I have got that for the festival.

“I do things with plywood, but it’s not your bog-standard plywood. It’s very good-quality stuff. I sculpt it with an angle-grinder. You start off with a blank sheet, and it is like a blank canvas. You can do whatever you like with it.

“I have got ten pieces for Arundel. I have got four pieces that can be taken away. I have borrowed the others.”

The trail continues until Bank Holiday Monday, August 31.

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