Donald Urquhart lived many lives before becoming an artist – after failing to get into art school in Glasgow he threw himself into ‘80s London’s drag-performance scene, partying with the likes of Leigh Bowery. In the ‘90s he worked as a model, fashion journalist and postman but it was The Beautiful Bend – the cabaret night he ran with Sheila Tequila and DJ Harvey - that saw him creating the monochromatic pen-and-ink posters that would launch his career in art. In 2005 he was shortlisted for the Beck’s Futures Award.

Urquhart’s work is known for its darkly humorous take on Hollywood glamour, with his fluid pen-and-ink drawings often featuring tarnished divas, fallen femme fatales and drag queens. That camp gothic sensibility also comes through in the sinister simplicity of this witty piece, which seems to be the final note of a murder victim in a Hitchcock thriller – one of Urquhart’s favourite references.

 

 

Curator Francesca Gavin has hung Urquhart's work in many of the Houses: “Donald Urqhart came out of 1980s queer club scene in London – amazing Scottish artist who’s currently based in Paris at the moment and he’s represented by Maureen Paley, he’s also shown at Harold Street and there’s a huge amount of humour in what he does. Often he does images that incorporate iconic divas so people like Marlene Dietrich and Bette Davis – larger than life characters, that film noir vibe.

We’ve included lots of his work in different collage pieces, text pieces, print pieces – he’s done a lot of different, funny print editions. And this is quite a large work for us, but it’s kind of wonderful – it’s basically like a trash version of Hitchcock in my opinion! That hand-drawn typography is very typical of what he does, it’s a perfect example of his work. He’s got that kind of British humour thing.”

Urquhart’s work has been exhibited at White Columns in New York, London's Saatchi Gallery, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, and The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, among others. He is represented by Herald Street and Maureen Paley galleries, London.

Shoreditch House

A members' club with bedrooms in a converted east London warehouse