Art reference

Ian Parmiter, aka Lord Sonic, tells how art has helped him keep Parkinson’s disease at bay as his first exhibition opens at Court X in Southsea

There are dozens of sculptures in every room, on every surface, in the hallways, all in Ian’s distinctive style. Some are recognizable human figures, others are animals, and others? Only Ian knows. Some stretch from floor to ceiling – the giant figure of The Birdwatcher gazes skyward, while others would sit nicely on the fireplace.

There are also paintings on wood, canvas and paper, from A4 size to giant pictures hanging on the walls and stacked everywhere. It’s a dizzying menagerie, an Aladdin’s cave, a cornucopia of striking artwork around every corner. As Ian shows us around, he gives us the names of some plays – Candyfloss Bellyflop, Man Gently Cycling Away From The Apocalypse, Lonely Beachcomber – many more are unnamed.

Ian has been working steadily on his art for the past six years, but is now curating his very first solo exhibition – The Beauty and Pain of Being Lord Sonic.

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Ian Parmiter, has his first art exhibition The Beauty and the Pain of Being Lord Sonic at Court X on Eastern Esplanade from April 9-24. Photo by Alex Shute

“Lord Sonic” is Ian’s alter ego from his other job – guitarist for Emptifish, the Pompey surf-punks who ruled the town in the 1980s. gigs since, even finally releasing his debut album 35 years later, titled Sonic Love, it features a cover painting of the guitarist.

However, about a decade ago, the nationally-known antique dealer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – the neurological movement disorder that causes tremors and makes muscles inflexible.

Ian, however, has refused to let illness define him or stop him from doing what he loves. To that end, he can often be seen taking an early morning stroll along the sea front or bathing in the sea. He will be at antique and car boot fairs from Hayling Island to Kempton several times a week and still runs the shop on Albert Road, Southsea.

Artistic creation has become a key element in maintaining this way of life.

Examples of Ian Parmiter’s art can be found all around his house. Photos by Alex Shute

“Life isn’t that bad”, says Ian, “it’s just a disease, you can beat it at your leisure”.

“Sometimes you have to think about that – think yourself in the right place and get up and go.

“I’m sure in the old days they didn’t want you to do anything, they wanted you to sit there and… That’s not what I want to do.

“I’m probably going to fall during my stage act,” Emptifish shows often feature Ian climbing up a precarious multi-piece podium and performing on it, several feet above everyone’s head, “that would be the better way to go, right? he’s laughing.

Examples of Ian Parmiter’s art can be found all around his house. Photos by Alex Shute

When Emptifish frontman George Hart first approached Ian with the idea of ​​restarting the band, Ian hadn’t played in years. As Ian puts it, he’s had to “relearn how to play the guitar three times”, since the band got back to business thanks to the effects of his condition.

Explaining his artistic roots, Ian says: “I used to do the illustrations for Emptifish – I did the logo, and I used to paint my guitar cases and do T-shirts and things like that, so I always did that kind of thing, but then I didn’t do anything for years.

“About six years ago I decided to do some painting, George did too, just for fun. Then I thought, “I like this”, it definitely helped me, and I found this style sticking out.

‘It was my style, but at the same time it also came from elsewhere. I continued with that, and it changed – it changes again now. He shows us a large hardcover book filled with page after page of tribal designs. ‘I do these little paintings every day – it’s very simple but it keeps my eye on it. I started it a few weeks ago and have done hundreds of them.

Examples of Ian Parmiter’s art can be found all around his house. Photos by Alex Shute

It works the mind, you know? You feel like you’ve accomplished something every day.

Working from the studio he set up in the back garden, Ian estimates he has created around 300 sculptures and as many paintings, “maybe more”.

A recurring theme in her work is the energy, movement and power of positivity.

“I call it primitive art – it’s almost like caveman art, but there’s definitely a form of classicism to it as well. It’s my version of everything – a modern version.

Ian often fetches materials from the shore.

“I like to get wood that has already had a life. It’s recycling and I also feel like there’s some kind of energy in it – like it came from an old boat, or it came from a church – that energy is important for my work . If it goes in the dumpster, might as well reuse it.

As well as being an antiques dealer and artist, Ian Parmiter is the guitarist for Emptifish, where he is known as Lord Sonic. Photos by Alex Shute

‘It all tells a story, and I use it as a reference, I can explain myself through my art – especially the pieces with notched sections and the ones with holes – it’s all about energy and trapped energy , stored energy and released energy.

“I’m really interested in knowing what keeps a man going, especially someone like me who, against all odds, keeps going. I had a lot of hits, but I keep moving forward and that’s all I can do.

“If you keep your body fit and your mind strong, they train each other. The spirit brings the body out of bed and the body brings the spirit out of bed.

It’s almost a perpetual motion. Sometimes one doesn’t work, but it pulls the other forward. If I wasn’t strong, I couldn’t move forward. I am stronger than 10 men in my heart and my head.

“If you have something to do and the mind is active, you can move forward, but if the mind is empty, thoughtless, you just stop and there is no way forward.”

April 11 is World Parkinson’s Day and Ian is determined to beat the disease.

“I’ll get better,” he said.

“Everyone says you’re going to get worse, but I’m determined to get better.” The main problem with Parkinson’s disease is the medication, it makes you feel worse than the disease.

“It’s like a snooker player planning 10 moves ahead, I have to do it like that to stay motivated.

‘My mind is still active.’

Ian was encouraged to put on a show by his friend and now agent, Mark Parham.

“It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I hope they can see what I’m trying to do and show my positivity,” he adds.

The exhibition runs from today until April 24 at Court X on Eastern Parade, Southsea. Go to

Examples of Ian Parmiter’s art can be found all around his house. Photos by Alex Shute