Although we can identify things in Charlie Billingham’s work as part of a certain idea of the past – baggy britches, towering wigs, swags of jewellery, vaguely scatological humour – their presentation (in bits, in fragments) suggests a kind of dispersal, a refusal to fully cohere. Billingham holds the bits at bay: the past stays past. Late 18th and early 19th century motifs – big Regency bums in wigs or britches; bonnets with cascading feathers; big-buttoned waistcoats – are repeated in an array of decorative colours, either as wallpaper or as reversible motifs on canvases.

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