The first #43Leaves art drop pieces of the new year, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if I couldn’t find material to paint on…

A Leaf left hanging, a #43Leaves piece, January 2020

Recycling, waste, things people just throw away, over the last decade I would estimate there been over 2000 art drop pieces as well as bigger gallery pieces all pained on found unwanted, thrown out recycled material I;ve found and taken back to my studio. Big canvases, old paintings, doors, old vinyl records, frames, guitars and other musical instruments, skateboard decks, packaging, wood, so much wood just pulled out of skips and bins. Most of my big paintings are on canvases that has been found in skips outside galleries or studios, fresh layers of growth over other people’s paintings that were heading for landfill, sometimes they need a bit of stitching or repairing, often they need a lot of cleaning, I’m currently painting on a piece of broken furniture for a show that opens next Thursday evening at Stash gallery, a fund raising benefit show called “Punk for Mental Health”. The artdrop pieces left on the street for people to just take are generally tagged with a hashtag as #artdrop pieces, or more recently as #43Leaves pieces so that people can use the hashtag, interact and find out more if they’ve chosen to take a piece. Over the last ten years pieces, mostly left around London, have found homes all over the globe, and yes I’m sure some of them do end up in landfill but really that’s where the material painted on was heading anyway. Incidentally someone complained recently about me putting nails in walls, the pieces are always hung on nails or screws that are already there (if you catch me looking strangely at a wall, I’m looking for old nails that might be there so I can hang paintings on), the pieces are always intended for people to just take should they wish to.

A Leaf left hanging, a #43Leaves piece, January 2020

There’s so much waste, mindless waste, why? Why was I able to pull out these perfectly good pieces of wood out of a bin a couple of weeks ago? Along with a perfectly good fully working electric guitar I might add! Even the strings were on it, I haven’t painted on the guitar, it is now being used by a musician rather pleased to receive it Take these things to the charity shop, leave them on a the pavement with a “please take” notice on them, set recycle bins for things like your wood so others can make use of it, I almost don’t want to mention the Extinction Rebellion flag I pulled out of a bin in Hackney recently! Come on people, walk it rather then just talk it, the (mostly young) people who live in the flats in the block above my studio seem to wear their clothing for a week or tow and then just throw it out (and not even in to a recycling bin) without a second’s thought.. Actually I’m typing this on a computer pulled out of a skip a few years back,nothing wrong with it (once we’d leaned off all the personal stuff the people who binned it had left on it). Part of this is out of necessity, most of it is artistic statement though, it is a deliberate artistic act and surely a big part of it is just common sense, yes it might all be a tiny drop in the ocean but maybe if well all added a small drop it maybe might not be too late?

A Leaf left hanging, a #43Leaves piece, January 2020

The first four #43Leaves pieces were painted and then left hanging in and around Brick Lane, East London yesterday (January 5th), never actually “dropped”, always carefully placed, walls carefully selected, note on the back inviting people to “please take”, I imagine this practice will go on throughout the year. Pieces left for people to just take, art on the street, outside the safety net of a gallery, not that I object to art in galleries, far from it, I love hanging my art in galleries, I love going to galleries, I love putting on shows, but art does have to reach out, it has to at least try to engage, and yes, when people do use the hashtag and post their own photos or tell us where the pieces have ended up it is fun as well – surely art needs to smile during these rather serious days we find ourselves in? Anyway, my year has started in terms of art, new paintings, first art drops, first art show of the year this Thursday – Happy new year, please do think about what you throw away, you might be depriving me of material to paint on but wouldn’t it be wonderful if I couldn’t find material to paint on…