(In conversation with Chris Kelso)
1. How did you get involved in IYR? Can you give us some background on your piece “Function of a Function-less machine”?
My involvement probably stemmed from the decision that we made to ‘consciously force a friendship’. It was a great decision, of course, and IYR welcomed me onto a creative platform to showcase my much earlier works.
“A Function-less Machine” was part of my third year project at art school, and it was primarily an attempt to eradicate the idea of humanity’s ‘divine purpose’. We assume we were created for reason, following the direction of fate, when in fact, we’re probably just ‘lentils’ – ingredients of another ‘accidental’ primordial soup. Altogether, I have probably spent around 4 months of my life in the bath, fashioning an array of ‘bubble-beards’ – I don’t have a divine purpose.
2.Tell us about your 2012, any major exhibitions or awards?
With imminent death looming at the hands of the Mayan calendar, 2012 was certainly eye-opening. The world was facing it’s final curtain, money had lost it’s value, and we all quit our jobs because we realised that happiness was more important than adhering to the system. I fucking loved it. I was now free to dedicate, what was left of my life, ‘colouring in’ (as my parents call it.)
I exhibited at the ‘Young Athenians’ exhibition in Inverness, as well as the Parallax Art Fair in London, and ‘The Art Gallery’ in Tetbury. I was also incredibly lucky to hold first place in the public voting stage of the ‘Artist Of The Year 2012 Competition’.
3.You live about a mile from me in Kilmarnock, tell the IYR community about the hellish, intellectually abandoned town we live in?
Yeah, I think we all love to hate Kilmarnock, but there’s beauty everywhere if you really take the time to find it, for example, the other day as I was out walking, pondering whether the town really should be where musicals are set, I stumbled upon this beautiful work of art – eye-catching, bright yellow, and graffit-based. It read, “I saw you fartin’.” Some say that the greatest artworks are those which leave the audience wondering? By that standard, I would say it was absolutely successful.
4.Tell us why you (unashamedly) like Damian Hirst?
He did turn art into £111 million, and I feel that’s a good starting point. We look at art similarly (trying to stay cool despite just referring to myself and Hirst as ‘we’), there is this idea that art is just a beautiful, powerful and refreshing way of saying anything, even if what you’re saying is terrible. There is also a strong focus on death, a sort of long-term relationship/obsession with it, and although seemingly morbid, death is actually the greatest way of looking at life – by ignoring death, would you every really enjoy living? It’s why cliched motto’s like, “You only live once” exist, I think.
5.What most influences your work?
Humanity. It’s something I struggle with every day, and attempting to embrace it through art is just a delightful coping mechanism. Our actions/beliefs/perceptions of the world are overwhelming, fantastic, terrifying, stupid, ridiculous, and inspiring. I can’t keep up with my own species. I like to make art that says, ‘We’re as much a pile of awesome as we are a pile of shit’.
6.What are your plans for 2013? Did you enjoy being part of imperial Youth Review’s debut line-up?
I’m working on a million and one commissions at the moment, as well as taking on private tutoring, but I’m still trying to make as much time for my own work as possible. I have a very exciting installation in the pipeline that I can’t wait to share with everyone.
I absolutely enjoyed being a part of IYR. As an artist, you are constantly searching for new and alternative ways of sharing your work with as wide and diverse an audience as possible, and sharing a space with such talented artists, writers and poets is such a successful experience.
7. If you would punch any artist square in the biscuit, who would it be?
This one’s easy. An older, female artist that came into the gallery I work in, four days ago. She visited to provide some sort of ‘unofficial crit’ on every artwork on display. The response to some were, “Ha! I could produce this in half an hour!” The response to others were, “This isn’t art!” and her response to one particular floral number was, “What even is that? It’s crap!” Now, I appreciate all art, I don’t particularly ‘like’ it all, but I respect it, so in a strange act of defence, I replied, “That’s mine”, as I feigned a degree of upset. She came over all apologetic, desperately trying to pick out any positives the painting had to offer, and ultimately left the gallery rather depressed. I suppose that was some sort of metaphorical punch in the biscuit?
She was right though, it was shit.