An Evening of Astral Art: My Thoughts on the ‘Muscle Memory’ Exhibition

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the ‘Muscle Memory’ art exhibition which was held by Al Davison AKA The Astral Gypsy. Davison is an artist and comic book creator who has contributed both illustrations and writing to such titles as ‘Hellblazer’, ‘The Unwritten’ and ‘The House of Mystery’ for the DC/Vertigo publication.  He has also written and drawn the graphic novel autobiography ‘The Spiral Cage,’ a deep and powerful work that any true comic fan should have in their collection.

The exhibition was held to coincide with the online creation of the second volume of his graphic memoir also entitled ‘Muscle Memory’ which is currently taking shape via the crowd-funding website Patreon.

The second book delves even deeper into Davison’s childhood than its predecessor and tackles the physical abuse that he faced at the hands of his father and the realities of living with Spina-Bifida. The honest and thought-provoking tome is as funny as it is harrowing and filled with sophisticated art; it is a true delight to see the work progress page by page.

The event took place at the Urban Coffee Company which sits within Fargo Village; a creative centre in Coventry, full of niche shops and quirky stores that range from vintage clothing outlets to sweetshops. Davison’s own Astral Gypsy comic book shop and art studio lies among the collection of unique businesses; where I’ve spent many hours perusing various pieces of art and literature.

I’m a big fan of Fargo Village and the service it provides; don’t get me started about how the Midlands needs more creative retreats like Fargo for those of us who seek an alternative to the mainstream. If we care to crack the surface, this region has a fantastic artistic undercurrent which needs to be nurtured in order to survive and Fargo’s many tenants are doing exactly that. Great work guys.

The artwork showcased within the ‘Muscle Memory’ exhibition centres on disability and its image in the media today.  Davison explained that his hope for the event was to address the shallow view of perfection in today’s society and the perception that anything that doesn’t fit within the confines of a glossy magazine or celebrity TV show fails to be beautiful.

The audience also had the joy of watching the artist paint an image live that will be featured in the ‘Muscle Memory’ graphic novel, before they had the chance to bid for it under the auctioneer’s gavel. The evening was a great success and I left truly inspired after seeing Davison’s creation fall onto the canvas in a remarkably organic fashion. The gift that he possesses is not of this mortal realm and I can only fathom one logical explanation for it…

Al Davison is a wizard but I’ll let you make your own mind up.

To sponsor the creation of ‘Muscle Memory’ click this link.’


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