Can you tell me about your practice? How do you get started on a piece of work?
I like making work about ideas I hear or things I read, especially stories. If the stories have been falsely elaborated - then I like them even more. I like to latch on to things and let them take me for a ride – see how far I can push something. Sometimes I use props, decoy actors and fake email accounts to try and force something to happen, but the outcome is never the intended outcome. I might then make a piece of work about it, or I might just let it evaporate into a myth. Putting into place these agents makes me feel like a conductor of chaos. Sometimes I am astounded by what I have instigated and I do not know what I am to do with the information I am privy to. Sometimes there can be no reveal.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
The people whom rightly or wrongly over the years I’ve looked up to and revered, sometimes they let you down. Sometimes they are so giving and influential you are still dumbstruck by them and grateful for what they gave you years later. Some people I do not speak to anymore - I can still feel their influence in how I behave and can still revert back and see the world through the ways they taught me - a wholly different perspective to my own. This has been my greatest influence.
How important is the choice of material in relation to realizing the concept of your work?
Materiality is everything. I do a line in paper clothes. Having painted people in costumes for a while it seemed natural to take the tools of the tailor – the pattern cutting tools, the dress makers paper and start manufacturing my own cut outs. These sit somewhere between maquettes for a piece of clothing and a painting.
These ideas often come from a slow trigger. Standing on Savile Row staring down through the basement windows at the tailor chalking out trouser suit lines on cloth I decided I could do that. Or perhaps, first of all I used to go to the Vietnamese supermarket on Cambridge Heath Road and buy the paper joss clothes that are used in ceremonial burning. I would wear the clothes and dissect them and throw the fake dollar bills around town like monopoly money on nights out. I like to go and buy my dress makers paper from the haberdashery in Great Titchfield St directly rather than order it online for the simple reason that everyone likes the word ‘haberdashery’. This is virtue. To go there in person feels right, despite the roll of paper being a cumbersome lump I can hardly carry back to the studio. This is all part of the divine plan.
What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I strongly subscribe to the notion of space when working. Both physical space and headspace - both are equally critical. These to me are the most essential tools. Everything else you can just muddle through and blag. I have chanced upon both wonderful and frankly ghastly places to inhabit over the years –
boats, caravans, warehouses, railway arches, tram depots - but If you are happy enough to sit on train with a pencil and the back of a menu to draw on, then this can serve as all the space you need.
Can you give us a book recommendation that has been important in your practice? And tell us why it’s important.
‘Cannery Row’ by Steinbeck.
This book became an unwitting mascot in my days of living in one particular squat, so much so that we renamed the building ‘The Palace Flophouse’ in honour of the place where the downs and outs of Cannery Row slept. It almost seemed prophetic in a way, some of the characters and stories that where woven into the plot, the haphazard dastardliness of it all. I cannot pretend it has directly affected my practice, but it remains intrinsically nostalgic to me in a hugely formative part of my existence. It serves as a good lesson - although it is full of selfish shits; ultimately it is about people trying to be virtuous despite of themselves, which I like.
Finally, is there anything new coming up that you would like to tell us about?
I am currently showing in Floorr EX07. November is a busy month, on the 6th I’m participating in the Art Car Boot Fair. Opening on the 11th is the The Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair which I am exhibiting in and on the 17 th November I am participating in the Southwark Park Gallery Annual Open. I also look forward to opening my long-delayed exhibition with Miriam Naeh and Please Queue Here in Spring 2022…