Edgar West

Edgar West

Born 24 November, 1968, Edgar West is a widely respected and sharp tongued art critic, from England. He attended Camberwell College of Arts, and later at Savannah College of Art and Design in America where he offered his expertise through a series of lectures on both the performing arts and photography. He also worked as a freelance art journalist in the Middle East. Currently he resides in London.

Early life

Born and raised in Manchester by parents Russell and Kimberly West, Edgar developed a tendency for art at a young age but was generally discouraged by his then elderly grandfather, Arthur West, who had been an officer with the Welsh Guards. Edgar enjoyed a comfortable childhood due to the wealth of his parents and grandparents and thusly focused his effort in terms of academic subjects, elsewhere.

Edgar's second love was supposedly English, a subject at which he excelled in. His mother Kimberly had been an English teacher before marriage and Edgar had shared this apparently inherited passion. However the course of Edgar's life would soon change after the death of his grandfather, Arthur, just as he was preparing to leave for university to study English literature. Young West took this as a sign and had his courses switched; the death of his grandfather seemingly rekindled his love for the arts, of which he had been denied for the majority of his youth.

Career

Following his education at Camberwell West joined PricewaterhouseCoopers and worked in their tax consultation department, specialising in taxing and auditing high value goods such as statues, paintings and tapestries. The position offered West invaluable experience working with exotic pieces of art and is said to have matured his outlook on the profession. It was this experience that West would take with him to further opportunities, and that he could pass on during his lectures in America.

West later moved to America to lecture at The Savannah and it was here that he first integrated his writing ability with his love for art. His repertoire includes writing for various local newspapers and art journals, and often led him to be asked to review or judge competitions. On returning to England in August 1998 West became a full-time freelance art critic and journalist; writing for art supplements in many major newspapers in the UK, West soon established himself within both circles.

It was in 2002 that West joined a film crew in the Islamic heartlands to help research works of art for the programme “Islamic Art: Paradise Found”. With presenter Waldemar Januszczak, and the rest of the recording team, West completed a highly successful tour of the Middle-East finding himself immersed in the culture and the art. West quickly adopted Arabic as a second language to aid his studies.

Following his work with Waldemar Januszczak West made a welcome return to Iraq, Bahrain, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. An expedition to Lebanon had been postponed however, due to the outbreak of war in Iraq and increasing tensions within the region. It is believed that contacts West had made within Hezbollah in Beirut had warned the critic not to visit the country, after recent sectarian violence resulted in the shootings of two French reporters in mid-August. Troop movements in Afghanistan would also be the cause of a follow-up program by Januszczak to be abandoned during January 2004.

During this time West had been informally dubbed “The Last Art Critic in the East” as his writings on the Islamic arts for Western art journals became more widely regarded. Many of these articles offered a cynical view of the conflict, stating that bitter violence in the Middle-East was destroying some of these war torn countries finest treasures. Naturally many puns emerged surrounding his name (West), and his passionate interest in the East.

He returned sporadically during 2004 and 2005 for art competitions, but in early 2006 he returned permanently; it is rumoured that upon his homecoming West bought property in Notting Hill, London.

References

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