I paint like I do now because I live in the squalor and mess (and excitement? Sometimes it is) of Hackney. I love the colours, the textures and the shapes I find here, I react to them, I find beauty in the squalor that’s alive. I don’t live in a neat and tidy place, it isn’t pretty here in East London, when you ask me why my art isn’t neat and tiny then my reaction is to say I don’t live in a neat and tiny part of the world. I’d like to think my art and the marks I make always reflect where I am making the art. When I was young I lived by the sea, I grew up by the sea, at this time of year, the empty beaches and the wind and the rain could sometimes feel rather glorious, it was thrilling to stand there and absorb it, to try and paint it. Don’t think I ever did manage to paint it, but the coast is starting to call me back home. Well not really sure if it is “home”, I haven’t been back since I left the island I grew up on. I’ve spent more of my life living in various parts of London now than I did growing on Anglesey, more of my life has been spent living in this city than living outside of it now, it doesn’t feel like home, but it is where I paint, it is where I live, where I make my art – I was going to say this is where I choose to make my art, but it isn’t really a choice to make art, it really is something I have to do, almost a burden, I’d rather be burdened with this burden than the burden that burdens others. The burden of art is a most excellent burden to be burdened with. Painting may not be the things these days, installations are he thing now, video installation and such, I call myself a painter though, an artist yes, but really I’m a painter….
And I paint like I do now because I live in the squalor and mess of Hackney, East London, although when I lived surrounded by the sea on an island off an island off North Wales, there was still squalor alive and layers of marks on the walls. Took these photos back in my early teenage years, whatever happened to the Purple hearts?
and Most of my time has been spent here in North or East London, the paintings were a little less vandalised when we lived in the greenery of West London, before gentrification, greedy landlords and their even greedy agents, sent us scurrying back to the East and the painting on things found on the street over here. Feeling a little under siege over here as the property developers and greedy estate agents close down the gallery spaces and studios.
My recent art has been as much about the art other people are making as the art I make, it has been about community, about collaboration, about shared spaces, not just sharing with other artists, but also with the people who have lived around here all their lives, this isn’t my home, it is their home, rude not to at least invite everyone in. Got to know some great people during Cultivate‘s time in Vyner Street – people born and bred around here, people who came from places like Jamaica in the 50’s, the Turkish taxi garage people. I saw the space in Vyner Street as an artistic statement rather than a conventional gallery, it was about the interaction, the friendships forged, it was about enabling others to show work, bringing people to do things, show things, paint things, to come and collaborate, inviting people in to explore the work. Art needs to be about community, about engagement, about open doors, about shared experience, conveyed emotion, shared…. I don’t like art that hides behind closed gallery doors and uninviting attitudes.