Musician, writer and artist, Brendan Croker,
completed the Art Foundation course at Bradford
Regional College of Art in 1972.
Brendan has enjoyed an extensive solo recording and
performing career and has also recorded with many
fine musicians, including Eric Clapton and Chet Atkins.
He has been a successful songwriter in Nashville, with
hits including What It Takes, which sold 4 million
copies for American country star, Wynona Judd.
However Brendan is probably best known as a member
of the Notting Hillbillies, who recorded one album
Missing …Presumed Having a Good Time in 1990,
and occasionally reunite when inspired by an event
for charity or personal projects allow. He is currently
preparing an exhibition for the Ghent Festival with rock
photographer, Jo Clauwaert.
“We were based in what is now the Grove Library. We started work at 10 in the morning and often finished at 10 at night, sometimes sleeping there. If you didn’t want to leave what you were doing it was best to sit with it. If you live with a piece of work you know its true value. We were proud to join the regiment of regular artists.
We started with a month of life drawing which calmed you down. You then began looking at things, expressing what you thought and after that you were on your own, but you were alright. This has stood me in good stead all over the world. When singing in Mexico with drunks, instead of being shot, you were handed the guitar as you were willing to join in.
In those days I got £8 per term grant. Classes didn’t finish early so students could get off for a shift in a call centre or stacking shelves. Art is everything: music, poetry, speaking to people, the way you dress… It is time we reintroduced beauty, colour and imagination. People don’t need multiple consumer choices, they need things that work. They can’t just shop. The only thing of value is knowledge. When I was a student we were by no means perfect but they tried to educate the whole person. We had an amazing programme of disparate and whacky lecturers arranged by Mike Randall of Liberal Studies.
When you leave this country there is time to discuss art projects and culture in the meanest, dirtiest bar with sailors. Here, if you don’t already have a name, you are not marketable and you are of no interest. I realised years ago that my pursuing fame was a mistake, me trying to learn something mattered. I am allowed to speak to any age group, any culture, about anything because it is interesting.
I have recently done some pro bono work with Art Foundation students here. It is not about giving something back, but getting something yourself. If I am going to carry on making records I don’t want to just make things that speak to people my age. Culture is so important. If we don’t defend it now, we may as well let it be destroyed in all the mutant gases this world produces.”
Photograph by Shelagh Ward