Charlie is one of the highest-profile criminals, often cited by the media as 'Britain's most violent prisoner’ and has been featured in books, interviews, and studies in prison reform and treatment. For those not well versed in the life and times of Charlie, he was born 6 December 1952 in Luton. Michael Peterson as he was first known, was first imprisoned in 1974, originally convicted at the age of 22 for armed robbery at a Post Office during which he stole £26.18. His sentence was repeatedly extended for crimes committed within prison as Charlie fought against the system. While in prison, he began making a name for himself as a loose cannon, often fighting convicts and prison officers. He also embarked on one-man rooftop protests. Regarded as a "problem prisoner", he was moved at least 120 times through Her Majesty's Prison Service.
What was originally a seven-year term stretched out to a fourteen-year sentence that resulted in his first wife, Irene, with whom he had a son, leaving him. He was released on 30 October 1988, and began a bare-knuckle boxing career in the East End of London. His boxing promoter Paul Edmunds was unhappy with his name and suggested he change it to Charles Bronson (although it was never legally changed). He spent merely sixty-nine days as a free man before he was arrested again for suspected robbery. He was released again on 9 November 1992, spending fifty-three days as a free man before being arrested and returned to prison for planning another robbery and continued to be a difficult inmate, instigating numerous hostage situations.
He has spent over 40 years in prison mostly in solitary confinment, spending a total of just four months and nine days out of custody since 1974. In 2008 a film was made of his life, 'Bronson' with English actor Tom Hardy in the lead role. In November 2011, when the film was screen on TV, Charlie finally got to watch it - Watch the 'Bronson' trailer.
Charlie's art is most famously recognised for the control bubbles, restraint and forced drug depictions. But his art goes way beyond the Prison/Asylum pieces synonymous with his name. Charlie also draws delicate animal portraits, cartonised creatures which betray his softer side. He draws inspiration on a daily basis, from moving imagery as well as printed matter. Anything around him can inspire a piece of art. Spiders are one of the subjects closely associated with Prisoner BT1314. Charlie can take the simplicity of a spider, add a line of text and make it poignant or comedy genius. Charlie also gives this comedic tone to his Flowers. A simple idea, injected with humour, which brings pleasure to so many. He does successful characterisations of celebs as well as tribute pieces for close friends and family, when they have lost a loved one.
Charlie is passionate about many charities and donates both money and his art has raised thousands for numerous causes. Of his art he has said: "The greatest dream in my life is would be to be accepted in the art world and to live as a free man, that's my one dream left."
Contrary to popular belief, Charlie has never harmed anyone outside of the prison walls. He has never taken a life. Charlie is still a Cat A prisoner, kept in solitary confinement conditions. He is allowed out to exercise and collect his food only.
In a hand-written statement on his website, Charlie stated that "The old me dried up...Bronson came alive in 1987. He died in 2014." He also announced that he was renouncing violence and wished to distance himself from those who sought to associate themselves with him due to his past reputation, commenting that "It’s non-violent all the way. It’s a peaceful journey from here on...Coz my heart is at peace and my mind is set on art."
The Death of Bronson is open to the public until 9th - 22nd January 2014, 11am - 6pm every day. Held at Apiary Studios, 458 Hackney Road, London E2 9EG
ORIGINAL ART & BOOKS
Available to purchase exclusively at the exhibition.
Thursday 8th January 2015, 6pm
Public RSVP - Limited availability.
The much anticipated biography, Broadmoor, My Journey Into Hell will be launched to coincide with the show. A no holds barred account of his time behind the walls of the notorious high-security psychiatric hospital. Never before has Charlie extensively documented his five year tenure at Broadmoor, his experiences, personal triumphs and descent into madness.
Thursday 15th January 2015.
Special screening of the film 'Bronson'
Trailer & Ticket Info
High Res Images Available for Press - Contact info at guerrillazoo.com