Can you tell me about your practice? How do you get started on a piece of work?
Who or what are your biggest influences?
I am drawn towards tactile surfaces that illustrate both intentional and unintentional gestures, inside and outside the studio. These can be garage doors, smooth and cold with pieces of sticker and chewing gum pressed into them, or telephone boxes adorned with graffiti doodles and city dirt. This idea of accumulative build-up and the layering of activity with different intentions is paramount in my approach to making work. I don’t tend to look at any exterior artist sources when I am in the studio, but do have a few memory cues scrawled on the wall in biro pen, including Markus Lupertz’ tent paintings and Purvis Young’s paintings of refugees and the sea. Outside studio time I read articles, study other artists’ work and make time to see work in the flesh as much as possible. Big for me at the minute are the paintings of Hannah Beerman and the sculptures of Michael Dean.
The interplay and tension between materials would appear fundamental to your work, very much leading and informing how your work develops visually, would you agree?
Yes I would agree, and in fact this tension has often been the reason why I become fascinated with a certain material. I tend to be drawn to materials that have very inherent qualities as something to push back against, such as aluminium, fabrics, or printed images. Different ‘base’ materials lend themselves to particular ways of building an image.
When making a more standard rectangular painting I work exclusively on aluminium panels. Initially, aluminium is a cold and unfriendly surface. It doesn’t really want to be painted on. It is very slippery and has no soak; everything sits on the surface. The felt paintings are the opposite. Often bought pre-coloured, the felt is bright, floppy, almost dumb or silly. As I cut, crop and collage these pieces together they quickly become very textural and complex. Pieces of old clothing and accumulated offcuts become blended into their surfaces, giving them a sort of embedded incestualized history.
Similarly to the felt, when I first started using aluminium I found these attributes difficult, but also very alluring. The surface could become so vivid and tactile, the paint never losing its gloss. Aluminium is very tough, and so it takes to being treated physically. Layers of paint can be sanded down again and again, scratched and beaten up. This process of excavation and rebuilding could lead to moments of hard fought beauty and even fragility, the memory of the artist’s hand ever present. Works can exist as refined, stark statements of intent; on the flip side, they can amass as muddled content, materially saturated.
How important is the choice of material in relation to realizing the concept of your work?
Material choices can introduce an unexpected narrative or something interesting textually, maybe even abrasive to a surface. My main modus operandi are essentially paintings, fabric collages and printed works, but to me it’s about the idea of different methods of image building.
I like the idea that a surface or material can act as a platform, with the artist acting as a performer on a stage. The performer or actor is a vehicle through which characters develop and narratives are built. The benefit of inhabiting the role of the performer figure is that you can manifest ideas in as abstract or direct way as you want. Essentially any material can become a tool for the artist to use to pursue a certain line of enquiry, be that visual, biographical or anything else.
What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I have a Swiss cheese plant in a homemade wooden pot that floats in the corner of the studio by the window, which needs watering every week. It reminds me to not be so self- centred in the studio and to be more generous.
Can you give us a book recommendation that has been important in your practice? And tell us why it’s important.
Frank Auerbach’s autobiography is one book that immediately springs to mind. Auerbach’s tenacity and attention to his subject has to be greatly admired. His work is all about excavation, reliving moments and structures in painting, which is really in tune with elements of my practice.
Finally, is there anything new coming up that you would like to tell us about?
I was recently part of a group show called Signifiance at Cornerstone Gallery in Liverpool which is travelling to Coleman Projects in London next month. I have a large solo project with Artmoorhouse in London happening at some point in the autumn so look out for that! Other than that we shall see what the year has in store.
Image 1: Clown Face, 2021, oil, raw pigment and glitter on aluminium panel, 79 x 56.5 cm.
Image 2: Install from 'Glide Gracefully' show.
Image 3: Dark Places, (2021), ink, dye, bleach, collage and canvas on stitched felt, brass grommets, 138 x 155 cm.
Image 4: Spray, 2021, pigment and varnish on folded digital print, 168 x 120 cm.
Image 5: Installation View, The Half of Halves, Zwarte Zaal, Ghent, June 2017.
Image 6: Frankland, Phil, New Ways to Life, 134 x 116 cm, ink, acrylic, dye and bleach on stitched felt and cotton, book sleeve, brass grommets, 2021.
Image 7: Power Arranging, 2021, oil, collage and aluminium tape on aluminium panel, 45 x 35 cm.
Image 8: Installation view from Test Space Spike Island, Bristol.