30 September 2021
Featured in Deptford X: 1999, 2011, 2018, 2020, 2021
What was your project at the Deptford X Festival?
This year was the third and final #43Leaves piece for Deptford X, I needed to come back for one more art drop, it felt like unfinished business. #43Leaves a piece of work in 43 parts, 43 paintings on found recycled unwanted material picked up of the street. Material picked up, cleaned up, paited on and then left hanging back out on the streets for people to just take should they wish to.
Describe your studio or workspace.
My current studio is a live work space, a brutalist cavelike space at the foot of a block of flats. My space is alive with the mess of paint, canvas and things dragged in to work with. There are always lots of pieces in progress, always paintings demanding attention, lots of plants and pigeons hanging around the open door, last night a fox walked in. I tend to regularly work through the night so there’s always something to interest the wildlife as well as the passing people. Today I have a large two metre square canvas by the door that I’m working on, a canvas found in a skip that just needs a bit of needlework, the previous artists didn’t paint much on it but I will leave some trace of what he or she did before throwing it out. It is rather full in here, there are always things waiting to be found and painted on…
What is inspiring you at the moment?
Inspired? Well I don’t know if that is the right word, there is a big red pomegranate sitting on my table, there are many Petunias right outside the front door. The city inspired me, I am from the Welsh seaside and the isle of Anglesey, one day I shall go back there but I would like to think my current body of work reflects and is inspired by the more organic working class areas of London, the layers or life, the streets, the marks on the streets.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Not sure if there is a typical one, I get up, I work, I go through the hundreds of emails sent to me about other people’s art, music and such, deal with Cultivate Gallery business and Organ business, throw on some new music and try and wear both my music writer hat and my painting hat at the same time, Most days I paint (actually I paint every single day), I write, I feed the pigeons, on good days I take paintings to the post office. This morning I’ve been writing both music and art reviews, it is early afternoon now and the painting must take over soon. I will go to a couple of gallery openings tonight and rush back to continue painting, usually until the early hours of the morning. If the weather improves I might hang a painting or two on the street, and art drop or two.
If Tate called you tomorrow and invited you to make work for the Turbine Hall, what would it be?
Well it would probably be a continuation of the Fruit Shop market stall that was originally inspired by places like Deptford High Street, Ridley Road Market and proper old school real people places and market stalls, and fruit shops, an expansion on the “Fruit Shop” that has preciously appeared at events such as the Art Car Boot Fair and the Whitecross street party as well as in an old ex-greengrocers shop in East London back in 2019, it would probably involve guest performance artists like Marnie Scarlett who work with us quite a lot at Cultivate Gallery events as well as real market trading fruit sellers to sell oranges and apples to visitors to the Tate – although I should probably do that on Deptford High Street rather than in the Tate. Actually I’d maybe ask the Tate to just send me back to Anglesey for a year to paint the line where the sea meets the sky, I’ve been in London for far too long, these days I only ever go to the Tate to spend a few hours just looking at Turner’s paintings.
Plug your next show/event! Or what words of support or encouragement would you like to share with your fellow artists?
Well rather than plug my next event, there are always next events, new things, people can find them on my website if they wish to, rather than plug what I’m doing next, I’d rather talk about art being about engagement, about open doors and breaking down barriers, that art on the whole is a force for good. That art should be about engagement, community, people, sharing, that art, artists and people who want to engage with art should be encouraged to come together, that art galleries should not the be the unfriendly, unengaging, aloof insular unwelcoming places of mystery that they so often are. And no, that does not mean art should dumb down, it just needs to be a little more user friendly. Artists need to come together and encourage each other, work together, make things happen on our own terms, to open doors, support each other, indeed I started a gallery called Cultivate with fellow artist Emma Harvey to encourage some of these notions (it is also why Organ still exists). Cultivate has been around for ten years now, there is always a way to get things done as an artist, it is mostly about doing it yourself and it is best when artists open doors and do the do-it-yourself together, there are no rules however much the art establishment might try to throw rules and fancy words you, the only rule is that rules are for breaking Deptford has always been a hotbed in terms of positive DIY, punk rock, squat gigs, art in strange places, things like the Deptford Free Festival and events in the part, artists should always encourage each other and come together to make things happen. Words of encouragement for other artists? Just get out and do it, walk it rather than just talk it, it can be done whatever the art establishment may tell you, come together, make it happen, engage, create…