The exhibition ‘Paradise Lost’ is an exploration of the enduring appeal of Speed, Danger, British identity, and a time when men exploring physical boundaries were knighted to the acclaim of millions. This show evolved from conversations between Conrad Leach and Richard Gauntlett, as they discussed their mutual passion for the charismatic imagery and objects from the 20th Century. Not nostalgic, but a response to fascinating people, machines, and events from the near past, whose character transcends the period, and remains equally compelling today.

A touch of Paradise Lost himself…Stirling Moss and ‘Black Jack’ [Paul d’Orléans]
Leach explains, ‘So much is evocative from the interwar era! The Supermarine Schneider Trophy racer, Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird, the Brough Superior ‘Works Scrapper’, are nearly forgotten today, but the aesthetics of the era are so pure and functional. This was pretty radical stuff back then, but my work has to be relevant now, as I’m not interested in recreating the past. My painting technique is contemporary, even Pop, and attempts to create resonance between images of the era and a viewer today. To me, an enormous bespoke object like the Bluebird, taken onto Daytona Beach in an attempt to go faster than any human, remains a charismatic and physically relevant object.

Artist Conrad Leach with his painting ‘Works Scrapper’, the factory racing Brough Superior SS100 on which George Brough took the land speed record in 1930 at 130mph [Paul d’Orléans]
‘Paradise Lost’ uses visual language to muse on the era before Health and Safety concerns regulated ambitions and passions. When an entire nation would sit as ghosts on the shoulders of a young man breaking speed records for England, then laud his return, thronging the streets of London by the hundreds of thousands. When it was possible to be a hero for doing something which had never been done, and which might have cost his life.

‘In Memoriam’, “for those who gave everything…” [Paul d’Orléans]
Conrad Leach was born in Canterbury, Kent, in 1965, and attended the Ravensbourne College of Art and Design. After 15 successful years in the fashion industry, Leach began painting full time in 1997. His first solo show, ‘Players’, at the APART gallery in London, brought him great acclaim, and he was subsequently artist in residence for Louis Vuitton/Celux gallery in Japan for 5 years. In 2005, he painted a portrait series of Norwegian cultural icons for the Grand Hotel in Oslo; his portrait of Henrik Ibsen is now used as visual identity by the Ibsen Museum. In 2008, he showed a series of large-scale motorcycle related paintings for the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours in Half Moon Bay, CA. In 2009, the Gauntlett Gallery became his UK representative, and in 2010, Richard Gauntlett commissioned Leach to design the ‘BS1’, a vintage-inspired custom motorcycle. ‘Paradise Lost’ is his first solo show in London in 9 years.

Vintagent Contributor David Lancaster with his Vincent-HRD Series A Comet [Paul d’Orléans]
‘Paradise Lost’ is on show now through Nov.12, 2011, at the Gauntlett Gallery, 90-92 Pimlico Rd, London +44(0)207 824 8000

Designer Mark Eley, Sideburn mag’s Gary Inman, Ruby Helmet’s Jerome Coste [Paul d’Orléans]
Jérome Coste tries the custom ‘BS1’ on for size; commissioned by Richard Gauntlett, designed by Conrad Leach, built by Cro Customs. Behind Jerome is ‘Dark (K)night’ [Paul d’Orléans]
Among the assembled: David Lancaster and Huggy Leaver, discussing the fine points with Conrad Leach [Paul d’Orléans]
Chatting with Nick Clements (Men’s File magazine) and motojournalist Sarah Bradley [Paul d’Orléans]
From the Classic Driver website: a shot of Gauntlett Gallery on Pimlico Road during the opening [Classic Driver]

Paul d’Orléans is the founder of He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.
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