British Outsider Art

Perifimou (Alexander Georgiou)


Born in rural Cyprus, Alexander Georgiou, known as Perifimou (‘the famous one’), was one of twelve children. He became apprenticed to a blacksmith at the age of twelve but did not pursue this trade. Burdened by poverty, he was unable to continue his education and in 1935 he emigrated to Britain and trained to become a chef and a tailor. During the Second World War he served in North Africa, Italy and Malta. On his return to England he went back to his old professions, but he was unable to continue in either due to ill health. In 1973, after many years of unemployment, Perifimou was recommended by the British Legion for a post as a temporary warder at the Royal Academy. He later became a full-time attendant at the Tate Gallery and it was here, at the age of fifty-nine, that he began to draw. The monotony of his daily employment led him to pick up a pencil and work on small pieces of paper, which he held in his hand. The random lines of his drawings suggested subjects which he would develop into visual stories. Humans move awkwardly within the frame, living harmoniously with birds and beasts or in imminent danger as mythical creatures loom.

This galley uses flash 8 which can be downloaded from