Painting | Level 1
4 Horseman of the Apocalypse, 1990s Photo credit: Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, art collection courtesy of @around_and_about_ MK
The ‘4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ is believed to have been painted on an old door.
The unusual title could suggest that the work is about the end of the world – brought on by global warming. We do know that Bill was concerned about taking care of our environment and recycling. The bright hot sun implodes, with the four pale blue swirls representing the four horsemen of war, famine, pestilence and death. However, without looking at the title it is often read in completely the opposite way – as a cheery painting of a sunny day!
This piece was donated by Jon and Emma Gregory in 2010. Emma Gregory is the daughter of local sculptor Ernest Bottomley, and you can see one of his sculptures in the waiting room at the Treatment Centre in the hospital.
You may know his triceratop dinosaur sculpture in Peartree Bridge. In keeping with Bill's rebellious nature it was built without formal permission in 1979. This was his third dinosaur sculpture – the ones at Netherfield and Bleak Hall were destroyed after complaints. This angered Bill, going against his hope for the new town as a place where anyone could create new things. Milton Keynes mythology says that Bill used to sleep in the belly of the dinosaur while he was creating it to protect it! The dinosaur has been repainted many time over the years.
Bill Billings (b.1938, London). He moved to Milton Keynes in 1974 to work on the building sites for the new town.
In 1986 he was awarded an Honorary Degree from the Open University and received an MBE in 2000 for his work as an inspiring artist working with communities in Milton Keynes.
Bill died in 2008, his last project was the Secret Garden in Wolverton.
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