Norman Rea: Faces of the Community

Becky Timmins

In today’s society, art can occasionally be viewed as a fearsome, frantic and frustrating phenomenon. Ambiguous and challenging works lacking obvious substance dominate the populace, placing fine art upon a platform tragically out of reach of the general public.

Yet on October 25, the antithesis of this artistic problem descended upon the Norman Rea Gallery at the University of York, bringing with it enough substance and sincerity to pack a punch. Thomas Rimmington’s series of stunningly intimate portraits depicting the faces of ten members of the Walmgate community were unveiled to an eager audience of students, teachers and members of the public, drawn together by a common desire to appreciate not only the talent of this young artist, but additionally the celebration of one of York’s most improved areas.

In terms of technical finesse, Rimmington demonstrates real talent. His fusion of precise detail and dynamic brush strokes captivates our attention, drawing us into the confidential, almost confrontational portraits. This connection engenders curiosity about the ten figures who help to make up the fabric of Walmgate. Who are these people? What makes them tick? Questions which are boldly yet sensitively addressed in Rimmington’s accompanying video piece, empowering these characters and giving them a voice. Ranging from the adolescent to the elderly, the diversity of the Walmgate area is not only astounding, but highly comforting. Their ability to exist together in harmony provides a shining example of how even the smallest ounce of care can transform a community. Rimmington’s finesse and courage certainly secure his place on the list of ‘ones to watch’.