Laura Harrison? B.A.Honours Art Practise third year interviewing me on my work to date.
L: What has been your main inspiration for this project?
Me: Well, obviously the British public, without them I would have had no subject matter to study, but if we are talking about other artists then there are many. The main influences I would say have to be Martin Parr, who is a photographic/ documentary/ journalist, with his scathing depictions of the public, such as those in his book New Brighton are wonderful. Maybe wonderful isn’t the correct word, what I mean is the way in which he captures people having fun and seemingly unaware that their surroundings are not only unpleasant but also very dirty. They are almost cruel, but sort of stop just a tad short of this. He has a tongue in cheek approach to what I would describe as a voyeuristic passion.
Others artists, such as Iain Mc kell ( another photographer), although his work covers many subjects it is his New town Dreams that I love, I see so much of my own childhood in these black and white pictures. Here there are the customary kiss me quick hats, and teenagers posing, looking for that holiday romance. Not forgetting the famous Polaroid photographers, who would thrust a squirrel monkey at you, in woollen jumper and pants. Then after the pose and the utter of cheese, you could buy this wonderful souvenir as keep sake of a lovely time at the beach.
L; These people are photographers, so would you say that photographs feature heavily in your work?
Me: Um, well I am not a photographer, but I do use my camera most of the time, rather like a game hunter looking for that one opportunity, in this instance it isn’t a rare breed that attracts me rather the everyday and the people in their every day environments. For this project that environment is the British seaside. I work then from the photographs that I have collected. In paint of clay and also mixed media. I carry my camera around all the time like a little sneak, looking for that moment to capture. That what photos are though don’t you think? Little moments frozen in time on a piece of cellulose paper of some kind. The pictures where the subjects are unawhere of the camera are the better ones, un posed and natural
L; Why the British seaside then?
Me: I work with nostalgia, I think there is a fine line between melancholy and nostalgic, these emotions are some of the most powerful we posses. I want to see work that grabs me, either by an instant recognition i.e. something I immediately relate to from my own experience or something I have also observed in a similar way. I have a passion for things that make me feel, it could be a piece of music (usually is music) or it may be a painting, sculpture and frequently something I see when I am out and about with my camera. It is what drives me to paint, or sculpt whichever I choose.
L; what difficulties have you experienced while working on this project if there are any?
Me: well there are always difficulties, not least the fact that I have a very debilitating health condition that has hampered my study on all levels, but also on a technical level. I wouldn’t not consider myself a painter. I think in a three dimensional way when I start a new project, so I think of myself a s a builder. I would love to be a proper painter but I lack the knowhow. A concept artist now that is more my bag. I have great ideas and I can point and shout orders so all I need is a team of technicians’ and a large budget. (Laughs). Seriously though I do have some really great ideas, maybe I should work in advertising?
L; Ah I am glad you mentioned painters because that was my next question to you. Who do you really admire or get inspiration from in the painting field.
Me: I love many different painters for a variety of reasons, my memory for retaining their names leaves a lot to be desired but off the top of my head I would say Chuck Close, because he paints in a hyper real way that just blows me away and I cannot paint like that, also he has overcome a huge life changing tragedy in his life and had continued to paint. The enormous paintings of heads that he does are my favourite.
For this reason I also love Stanley Spencer, Ron Meuck (he isn’t a painter though is he? Ha-ha) he works with hyper reality though. More recently I came across David shrigley and although his art work is very naive I love his written work. Ivory cutler the Scottish poet makes me belly laugh, oh dear I have gone of the subject of painters haven’t I?
Any way I love hyper realism and plain old realism, I had a teacher once how said “why paint in hyper realism why not just take a photo” I thought this was not in the least encouraging and also a bit defeatist. I have never been able to paint like a photo mind you so he had a point there.
There are lots of painters that I love aha! Gustavo Calbot I bet I’ve pronounced it wrong , anyway his paintings ( Paris rainy day or Portrait of his mum) are so beautiful and they have a real feeling of being there, as the viewer, they transport you into the canvas, I like that they are almost cropped like a photograph, I also paint portraits in this way. It allows the viewer to been right next to the subject, close enough to smell heir skin.
L: How would you describe your work at the moment then?
Me; Um, well it is very funny; at least I think it is. I would describe my work as engaging, I would say it was bright, and it has a hook, like a catchy tune. The reasoning behind my work is to catch the attention of the viewer in an instant.
These days people have little time for anything much and it is essential that If I want to get their attention I have a small window in which to do this.
I would say my work was like a joke, people see it and its funny and they smile because they recognise something in it, then the punch line is delivered only instead of the punch line making them laugh it makes them think.
There is always a more serious issue underlining in my work I just wrap it up in a way that makes it amusing. I think I have moments of cleverness and it is this that informs my work…
If you want me to describe my work in a more literal way them I would say, um, it is two dimensional and Three dimensional and the fact that it is also carrying a message then perhaps it exists on another dimension as well, maybe I’ll say its educational, a kind of gray matter dimensional.
L: Would you say then that you perhaps hide behind your humour?
Me: Oh yes absolutely, it has been the only thing that has kept me sane, well to a degree at least, to be an artist you have to be just a tad unhinged, it is the recipe for the creative mind.
Well that is my excuse and I am sticking to it for now. I have relied on humour to help heal me when I have been ill and also to get out of sticky situations, it has also got me into trouble many times. Sometimes words come out of my mouth before going through the customs check in my head and before I know it I am the there is a room full of people sat agog at my impertinence! I was at a support group once for people with chronic illness, this included myself (mind numbingly tedious) There was a lady talking about ways to bolster our moods and a go get um approach to pain, she told us that swimming was a great way to do this, and went on to say that her mother had in fact swam 2 miles a day for months. This was the point that I raised my hand and asked “did she end up in France? “ I didn’t go to any more meetings.
Humour will always be my mainstay though, maybe if I grow up I might do some sensible art like the grown up artists do.
If I think about it how many times have we been dragged through museums and galleries while some one drones on in a monotone about the historical context of this or that bloody painting, mind numbing as I have a short attention span and an active sense of imagination, so my work is for all the poor souls who had their mums drag then around the Louvre!
L; where would you like to see your work then?
Me; ha-ha I have no idea, maybe techniquest?
Um no just kidding I think in the reception at the Google offices that would so be cool or on the walls of some of my rock star idols. It would be enough that someone would just give me the nod that my stuff is cool enough to be on their wall. In an ideal world I would have a big exhibition with plenty of space and my bright and engaging work filling the the space. Sweets and gum ball machines and of course other like minded artists to collaborate.
Music and sound would have to feature in my exhibition. I would really like to explore the mixing of music and sound with my work, this year I will begin this new venture. The last great exhibition I went to was the Banksy one in Bristol. It seems these days it is a little cliché to like Banksy but I have never been one to fall in with the crowd, I really appreciate when someone has a clever and quick mind and uses this in their work, banksy is a master at this, graffiti aside there is little doubt that he is an accomplished painter and has a great many important things to say. If I was cleverer I would do a lot more work and may be have a little bit of the money that he has hahahahaha.
Me; in conclusion I am a sarcastic, caustic, voyeur who has a keen interest in things anthropomorphic and social issues.