Fitzcarraldo and Factual Nonsense

Fitzcarraldo at Black Swan Arts and Bruton Art Factory

Fitzcarraldo opened at Black Swan Arts in Frome in May. This exhibition of experimental paintings was influenced by the 1982 Herzog film Fitzcarraldo, in which the hero goes to great lengths to build an opera house in the Peruvian jungle, including hauling a steamship through the rainforest.

Dan Hampson’s paintings are worked fast with a one-hit approach, using the same daring and risk as Fitzcarraldo endeavouring to bring opera to the jungle. Hampson is interested in the relationship between art and anthropology. He frequently takes mythologised imagery of famous explorers such as Dr Livingstone and Captain Cook as his subject matter.


The work at Black Swan Arts is energetic and captures something of the energy and discovery these explorers faced. The free brush strokes evokes a sense of things yet to be discovered – a fantastical journey into the unknown.

23 May – 27th June. A conversation with the artist takes place at noon on June 7th (Frome Independent Market day)

Factual Nonsense opened at Bruton Art Factory last weekend. This exhibition celebrates the life and times of Joshua Compston. Having been shown already at London’s Paul Stolper gallery, the exhibition has now come to the Westcountry

Shortly after graduating from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1992, Compston opened his gallery, Factual Nonsense. The gallery was in London’s East End and brought together the group now known as the Young British Artists.  Compston was obsessed with finding ways of reaching beyond the confines of the institutionalised art world, and is famous for organising A Fete Worse Than Death and other art happenings in London. With his shock of blonde hair and penchant for white suits, Compston has been compared to Fitzcarraldo: bringing art and culture to the then culturally poor East End of London.

Joshua Compston
Joshua Compston

Compston’s life was brief and blazing: he died aged 25 of an ether overdose. But the legacy he left is still felt today, in the work of the YBAs and East London’s now thriving art scene. Bruton Art Factory brings together an eclectic mix of artwork and documents surrounding Compston’s life and his work, from photographs of Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst and other YBAs, to Factual Nonsense posters and screenprints. There is work by Gavin Turk, Liam Gillick, Tracy Emin and Sam Taylor-Wood. The artist Darren Coffield curated the exhibition, and his own work is exhibited alongside Factual Nonsense. Coffield is a contemporary of the YBAs and his style compliments the FN pop-aesthetic. Coffield is the editor of a  book about Factual Nonsense: Factual Nonsense: The Art and death of Joshua Compston


Tracy Emin and Joshua Compston at the hanging picnic, Hoxton Square London. 1995 by Giles Moberly




Darren Coffield


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