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Carl Andre said, "Man climbs mountains because they're there,
"and Man makes art because it's not there."
What artists do...
they explain things that you already know,
but they just say it in a different way.
And that's all I want to do is tell people...
all the incredibly intricate, fascinating extraordinary things
that you see if you have the time.
And the inclination...
..to just observe.
My inspiration is essentially my environment.
The, the natural world and how we fit into it.
How we are changing it, how we are affecting it, how...
nature, the natural world, whatever you want to call it, affects us.
So it's a sort of interface between environment and us as a species.
It's not necessarily the objects, I'm not object based when I'm looking at things,
it's the qualities that they have,
so it can be glass,
it can be lichen, it can be a curled-up leaf...
It's the qualities of the objects
that really sort of get the juices going for me, definitely.
I'm an outdoor person, and I love
everything in the wild,
in its natural habitat, and I travel quite a lot as well.
I am interested in chi...
the energy. The movements and the growth of the place.
I guess for myself it it it's all about...the idea of memories.
And memories are very important for me,
coming from a place like South Africa and coming to the UK.
So starting points for me is about family...
and the way my parents grew up.
And in those terms I think it's defined me to be a designer
that's more sentimentalist rather than conceptualist.
I love jazz, and there seems to be a very common thread
in all the collections I do that's based around that concept.
The thing I'm obviously most interested in as a portrait painter
and a figure painter is the human figure, so I look at a lot of
different representations of the body, as well as people in everyday life.
If I see someone on the bus who I think, "Oh, they'll make a really good painting,"
I'll go say, "Do you mind if I paint your portrait?"
If they don't want you to, the worse is you'll never see them again
and you'll feel embarrassed a bit! It's not too bad.
Well, I find human figures fascinating, just because I...
As a child I grew up with
theatrical characters that are a bit like carnival characters,
except they're from Nigeria.
And these dress up and look so not human, you know!
They'd have headdresses that would make them look as if they had
a ginormous head, you know, and a little body!
So the fact that you could change the human figure I've always found fascinating.
And I'm also interested in textiles
and costumes, different rhythms, patterns, all sorts of things.
I often tell myself stories as I'm walking along.
I make up stories as I'm walking.
The stories and the sounds translate themselves into pictures.
Because I've got this character, Mr Mustard,
and he's almost my, er,
my imaginary friend, my alter ego, he walks along with me.
It's almost as though he's walking along with me.
I imagine seeing the world through his eyes.
I'm very interested in the world of the imagination, the dream world, if you like.
I've always looked at archaic objects from ancient Greek and ancient Egypt.
And I find all that kind of archaic sculpture very inspirational.
Years and years passed before I began to understand that actually
I was connecting in with a lot of things to do with my childhood,
the way that I played with dolls,
created stories, was interested in theatre.
All those early things when I was younger
I realised they're coming back into my into my creative practice.
I get my inspiration from popular cultural imagery,
and that can date back to the 60s, possibly even the 50s,
and anywhere up until the current day.
Movies, from music, they're two of my biggest inspirations.
Then I source a lot of imagery from fashion magazines.
I take my camera and I'll go out and I'll photograph whatever I can.
Signs, bits of peeling billboards, graffiti artists' work,
just because of the colour schemes I think I reflect a lot of
the bright graffiti-inspired colours in my own work.
When I was studying art at a younger age,
I did a lot of pencil drawings and sketchings.
And sketches, which I think is, is important.
Nowadays I use handwork more for layout and sizing proportions.
I found with what I do with pop-art style imagery and graphic imagery,
that computer software aids me a lot better for that, that is what I use as a tool for drawing now.
It's a great tool for composing things
without having to commit to actually doing anything on the canvas first.
Usually I'll do that, then I'll go to the canvas and I'll freestyle something.
But it's because I've got that composition logged in my head already.
The point of drawing for me is that it goes through my head.
It's it's me trying to filter the world, capture
something of my response to it in these set of rather awkward lines.
It's not a record of the place, it's a record of me standing in front of the place
and that's why I have to draw, I think.
When I'm drawing I get into a zone now.
And when I draw it's really exciting because I have all this material
and all this, the skills that I've built up over the years, and they all focus in.
You find you're doing this piece of work
that's really exciting, and you almost don't know you're doing it.
You're almost running with your drawing, because it's so exciting.
The idea of trying to get this thing down,
and you try to almost pin it down,
and the nailing it becomes very exciting.
I try and have a range of things that'll make marks to react to the actual thing.
If you're working quickly, charcoals and things you can rub and push
about are probably more useful than pencils, which are much more precise.
If you just take a photograph then move on, you've never looked,
you haven't really analysed what you're seeing.
Whereas with a drawing you have to look a lot harder and a lot longer,
and therefore it gets recorded in your memory so much better.
And if I couldn't draw reasonably well,
I couldn't model very well either
because I think the two are extremely linked.
I couldn't imagine a face in three dimensions if I couldn't draw one in two.
Whenever I'm walking out in the landscape
I always tend to bring stuff back with me.
Bits of stone, bits of grass, bits of twigs, bits of feathers.
If I was to make a sketch
in situ, I would be selective.
You know, you can't put everything down in a sketch.
And if I'm working from the sketch in the studio,
I'm also being selective from the sketch.
You're too far removed from the actual place that you're in.
Because I'm a sculptor, I tend to use different methods,
often putting them down on paper isn't satisfying enough
so I will have objects that I manipulate within a room.
Put them next to each other, on top of each other, attach things to them,
throw a whole load of paint all over them, alter the tone, the colour.
Just keep altering them until I'm happy with them.
I still class that as drawing because I'm still exploring an idea.
I think drawing's quite a lot like grammar, almost.
If you're going to learn a language, if you don't have the grammar
and the way sentence structure works, syntax and the verbs,
you can't hope to construct a sentence or speak that language.
If you don't have the basic skills of drawing
to make up a larger whole,
then the chances are that piece of work isn't really going to be very successful.
Also, drawing actually plays a part in my painting process.
So, you might not be able to tell all the time looking from a distance
but if you come up close to one of my paintings
you'll often find there's areas that have been worked into with ballpoint pen.
Sometimes red on a painting, you wouldn't really notice that on.
Or if there's a particularly bright white I want I'll use correction fluid
because it brings a brighter white than the actual white paint I have.
So I bring drawing elements into my finished paintings.
It's often thought that you've got to be a fantastic sketcher
or fantastic drawer, to be a designer.
But I think if you have a sense of shape and an idea of scale,
I think any drawing becomes valid as the starting point to design.
So I do think it's quite crucial to be able to things onto paper.
I think the reason I draw is because it's almost the pulse of life.
As soon as somebody starts making a mark on a page,
it's evident that something's moving or alive.
Some people find it through writing.
They write words, but it's a signature that goes straight down onto the paper.
And I feel that I observe
what's in front of me,
and I'm trying to capture that energy.
It's a very important part of my practice, drawing.
For me a sketchbook is very much about a visual diary,
the fact that I can look back on a sketchbook that I did ten years ago
and still actually feel quite emotional about it.
It will remind me of a period of time. It might remind me of a place I visited.
It'll remind me of qualities that I really sort of felt quite excited about at the time.
And some probably still do when I look back on them.
I don't tend to be random in my sketchbook,
I tend to actually work sequential with the pages,
and that also gives you a sequential development
in the kind of ideas and the work that you do.
And you can actually see how your work developed
and how your ideas develop, as well.
I have to make sort of a little loving book to start working
that I've got some kind of link and relationship with.
I do these rapid walks
where I do literally hundreds of very quick sketches and scribbles,
which are partly just sort of... In their own right they exist,
but they're also useful in the future to refer to and to create new ideas.
I normally try and do something in my sketchbook when I'm working on a canvas,
or a work on paper that will be exhibited and quite likely it'll disappear,
it will be sold and go out of my world.
So I still have something in my sketchbook
to remember that event, that experience by which it might just last as that,
and nothing more.
But it might be useful for a future series of works.
In mine you can often see, you know, where the earth has got involved
or the seawater or, you know, the elements have become trapped within the pages.
So they're fascinating objects in themselves.
To me, drawing is essential.
But drawing now means a whole host of things.
You can draw with film, you can draw with wire, you can draw with your foot in the mud.
Quite often if I'm a bit stuck I'll flick through them very casually
and revisit certain images and certain ideas.
So they're like a sort of precious source.
My sketchbooks are more like what I would call
a kind of critical journal.
The critical journal is is something more than a sketchbook,
it contains research material, photographs, pictures.
Not just me working out designs or working out sketches,
but thinking about writing and thinking about the sort of avenue
that I maybe got stuck in.
So I use that sketchbook
in a much broader way than just making drawings.
I feel if I lost my sketchbooks
I would not know quite who I was as an artist.
My sketchbooks are a form of therapy.
It's like a stone you whisper to!
And I'm just, you know, really glad to have them,
cos they don't talk back!
I don't put lots of ideas in them.
I, you know, I think I'm quite slow.
I do things one at a time,
and after it's done, it's done.
Once the sketchbook's finished it's finished.
It's a paper period in my life, cos, you know,
I almost do little sketches with my small maquettes as well.
I'm having a conversation on paper,
and then having a 3D conversation in the studio,
and then the bigger thing will take its own way.
But, you know, I use as many things as I can, actually.
Historically, I draw on other artists that were involved in important movements.
Like Andy Warhol, like Jean-Michel Basquiat, James Rosenquist.
There's a whole group of artists that were involved in the pop art movement.
But also, I think, one of my main inspirations comes from the hip-hop movement
and rock & roll in the '70s and '60s.
Very vibrant, kind of aggressive, without being violent movements
that really changed the way that people looked at subcultures.
Subculture is through punk music, through skateboarding,
These are all things that have been a very intrinsic part of my life.
I think you make art about what you know.
I grew up in the Philippines,
which is in South East Asia, and part of my childhood was spent growing up
under the Marcos dictatorship,
which was quite well-known in the West
for this woman called Imelda Marcos,
who was most famous for having 3,000 pairs of shoes.
And also I grew up in quite a highly politicised family.
My work is influenced by this sort of interest in my own history.
I spend a lot of time looking at things, and, you know, you go to museums and galleries
and see other people's work, and kind of gathering images and reading about artists,
and reading about historical episodes.
It's a lengthy process of research
that leads to producing the work in the end.
These kind of cultural and political interests will always be there,
but the kind of actual making, the process of making, takes over.
If I'm working towards a painting
I will do drawings of any objects that I think might be in there.
But I think it's important
not to get it too organised.
Then I will look up in books about symbolism,
or on the internet, about symbolism.
I need to check what something like an apple means,
or a particular vase, or a particular colour.
These all symbolically mean things.
When I look it up it's really interesting because quite often it gives you another idea.
So you might look at something like a mirror,
and you think, "I want a mirror in this, cos I'm going to have a reflection of maybe me in it."
Or a reflection of the objects. And then you'll find that the mirror
is likened to the moon, and you find that the moon is to do with female,
because it reflects the light of the sun.
All of my projects use referencing from history.
The work that I'm doing at the moment, I'm referencing
some of the traditional crafts within English Manor Houses.
I'm referencing in particular Grinling Gibbons,
who was a master wood carver, 17th century.
And so I'm kind of...I've been doing lots of kinds of experiments in the studio about the actual technique.
Now I feel like I'm ready to start actually developing ideas with that technique.
All the time that I was working with the process I was sort of starting to think about the ideas then.
So it's a very kind of reactive process.
I'm reacting to things all the time.
I like those situations, because they're challenging.
When I first started to use a varied range of materials,
it was to do with using found objects.
So I'd find objects on these journeys to find narratives,
and some of the sites I went on I used to find lots of different pieces of old metal,
and I wanted to embed them into the paintings.
And then eventually, when you come to a place like Hampton Court Palace,
you can't start taking things off the wall and start embedding them into the paintings.
So at that point I realised I had to find things.
So I used to go to junk shops and try and find the equivalents of, "That looks like a little crown,"
although it's not a crown, or, "That looks like an amazing piece of jewellery,"
but it's just a tacky piece of jewellery that's been bought from a charity shop.
But once they're in the paintings they tend to have very jewel-like qualities.
There's definitely a huge narrative element in my work.
Maybe I'm scared of revealing who I am,
so I look for other people's stories to tell my own stories, so I come at it from a slightly different angle.
When I first started to use, a varied range of materials,
it was to do with using found objects.
So when I first came to Hampton Court I knew that there were these apartments upstairs
that were derelict and that grace and favour inhabitants had lived in.
One night, one of the residents had gone to bed, and her candle fell and the bedspread caught fire.
Obviously that's how the fire spread through the palace.
It was one of those moments that I just thought, "This is it!
"This will be one of the subjects I deal with."
So I decided that I'd start with the apartment upstairs and where it started.
In the remnants of the fire they found a little invitation card
and so I've had this idea that she was just about to have a tea party.
So I decided that I would combine that story with the element of the fire.
And the aim of the painting was to take the viewer on a visual journey.
So the painting's really in two halves.
On the left-hand side, you see the damage and everything that happened with the fire.
And then on the right-hand side of the painting you see it being brought back to life again.
So you go on a sort of circular journey.
So as you look through the painting, you see different layers that are unravelled.
It definitely goes from left to right,
and you probably leave the painting through the mirror and the baroque figure on the right-hand side.
I spend a lot of time looking at things.
You go to museums and you go to galleries and see other people's work kind of gathering images
and reading about artists and reading about kind of historical episodes.
It's important to know where your ideas stand in terms of, you know, the broader kind of context.
When I was making these drawings, I was only limiting myself to red, black and white, particularly,
because of its kind of totalitarian sort of implications.
Sort of using that repeatedly with pattern
sort of reinforces the kind of political content in my work,
and then later on I've started using gold,
particularly the colour from gold leaf to add another texture
and also to kind of emphasise the idea of excess in, you know, actually using gold in the work.
You know, it surely gets that across.
And the wigs is actually a very easy and a very kind of tactile way of talking about...
a particular kind of excess.
All the ideas and all the implications of these kind of big historical ideas
can be contained in a single kind of quite disgusting object.
They're kind of symbols of power, but they're also kind of decayed power in a way.
When you're actually making the piece, it becomes its own self.
These kind of cultural and political interests will always be there,
but the kind of actual making, the process of making
takes over when you're when you're sort of producing work.
When we start making work,
it's it's usually a conversation that starts it off,
and that might be sparked by sort of one bit of information
or something that one of us is thinking about.
And then it becomes a process of talking about that.
And for me that's a sort of really interesting stage,
because say I've got an idea, it immediately gets transformed
when maybe Emma starts talking about it or Kenny starts talking about it.
So there's this kind of mutation of ideas, if you like,
that you wouldn't get if it was just me developing a piece of work.
Everything that we use is familiar to everyone,
from the technology that we actually use to view it,
the TVs... Even from the...cameras that we use to like film things.
Everything's, like, obsolete technology, or it's been in people's households, it's familiar.
Just sort of developing it and putting it back out there.
Why do we specifically make visual art, it's because we're all quite visually aware.
I think there's a conceptual side which maybe you talked about there.
But in terms of the things we use, there's definitely a kind of visual theme running through that.
And that's something we can identify with and use.
Lots of the work revolves around journeys.
Being absent and being present.
Quite often I go places and send, send messages back from them.
When I went to Antarctica, I made a drawing a day and sent it out by e-mail,
so it was kind of dispatches back from a journey getting further away, further and further south.
Pieces like the chair going into space.
It's sending this thing off on a journey that is sending messages back.
So it's, again, about feeling this distance
and I'm, in some ways, sort of, yeah, measuring the world,
sort of just wanting to know what it's like up there and sending something to report back and tell me.
To think through an idea you sort of have to manifest it in some way,
you have to put it down somewhere.
It's, I guess, the way that I try to understand the world around me.
I just wanted to have a sort of view of...
..initially myself sort of getting smaller and smaller in a larger and lager context.
At the moment I'm making work by using a method which in ceramics is called coiling.
It's like coiling a big pot.
I'm starting at the bottom, at the feet, and working up to the top, to the top of the head,
using small coils of clay, soft clay which I join together and just build up the walls
of the legs and the body, and then have to work down to coil the arms.
I'm leaving the evidence of the way they're built very visible.
You can see where each coil joins on to the next one.
I'm very interested in mixing materials, so bringing into the ceramic figure...
other media, found objects, other materials like plaster or wax or latex.
I've also got this kind of playtime going on where I'm going to start dipping heads into plaster
or wrapping fabric round things, and that's partly because...
Clay is a very strong material base to work with,
but there's so many interesting materials out there that I'd quite like to expand that repertoire.
Obviously, when you're making figures out of clay,
there's a form to be made.
You build a clay figure, and then you fire it to make it strong.
And then you can do all sorts of other thing to it, like paint it and glaze it.
So in terms of form, it's finished when you've decided, "That's it,"
and it's going to get dried and it's going to go in the kiln.
For this particular project my studio is based on a building site,
on the edge of the building site at King's Cross.
And I actually have what were offices as my studio space.
When I'm thinking about starting a new sculptural work, I'll get very intrigued by a material
and think about different ways of using it and ways of moulding it or joining it together or casting it.
And so it's very much about the material as a starting point.
I often find myself having to really research materials.
I get very excited about using a material that isn't something
that would traditionally be used in an art context.
And kind of getting lots of this stuff and playing with it.
And it means that I end up going to quite interesting places
and talking to people about machines that they use in a very specific way. And they're always quite surprised.
The making part, regeneration, and the processes
that I've been observing on site have impacted into the work itself.
So there is this sense of something new coming about,
also something old being preserved, and also a reworking of materials.
So all of that kind of does very much fit in with my work.
I use pencils, I use marker pens, I use spray paints.
Um, I create 3D works,
I work on mannequins.
I do cut and paste collage.
I use big toner print-outs from commercial printers.
I have a whole palette of different techniques that I'm constantly re-learning myself and evolving
and picking up on that I use in my work.
If I've decided part of the process of creating
a certain piece of work is using silk-screening,
taking work out of my studio and going to the silk-screening studio,
where a lot of my friends are based, is a really exciting time for me.
I love all the pre-preparation.
I get down there, I can pull my screens out
from the racks, I'll clean them all out and get a new image in there.
It's hard for me to not get too excited and start making mistakes cos I just want to get printing!
Once you get your work on the print bed, and you get all the inks on the screens
and you do the first pull of the ink onto the canvas,
that satisfaction of getting such a crisp, perfect image
onto the piece of work is...
It's kind of indescribable, in a way.
In terms of materials and techniques,
I'm interested in
the physicality of...paint
and the presentation of a mark or a gesture within paint.
But I want to contextualise that
and place that within a space which is largely photographic.
'I almost always start with one or more photographic sessions
'with an actor or actress.'
Pose in front of the window here, with the book, and I'm going to...
Lean against it? Or do you want me to just...
'For which I've chosen costume, and may have built elements of a set.
'I organise lighting, and I use that
'to generate the bulk of the visual information I require.'
Yeah, that's good.
Good. A very different feel from the flesh.
I use digital printed information,
pigment printed onto paper and canvas.
I use more traditional materials such as pencil drawing,
charcoal and oil paint.
The way I work is a combination of working in situ, outside,
and working in the studio.
The work outside is obviously a very direct...
result of contact with nature, or with my environment.
Basically, everything out there is paintable.
Whether it's a bus in London or a gorse bush in the hedge.
Everything is paintable.
But I need... More than that, I need a reason to paint it.
The weather, the elements are affecting me directly
and what I'm making, as well as often the saltwater,
the...the mud, the vegetation, the insects.
It all gets somehow combined into what I'm doing,
often accidentally. But a lot of it is actually in the subconscious.
You're not actually aware of, you know, how many times
you're looking at something to make sure you've really seen it, it's just happening.
And it's only when I look at myself on film or in photographs of working afterwards
that I've actually seen that I've been clawing with my fingernails
or pushing it around with my toes, or...
I've actually mixed up a colour that wasn't in front of me.
I'll do that, then I'll retreat into the studio
and somehow continue working on it, but in a different way.
But eventually trying to reach that point
where basically I can't think of anything else to do to it.
I can't change it in any way.
And then I'm trying to find that point where I put the final full stop, the punctuation, you know.
We all look at places in different ways.
And all I'm trying to do is show people what I think,
what I see, when I visit a place.
What is it that excites me?
It's the world around me that excites me,
but it's also how you interpret the world around you that excites me.
And everybody interprets it in totally different ways.
Whenever I'm... I'm walking out in a landscape,
I always tend to bring stuff back with me.
Bits of stone, bits of grass, bits of twigs, bits of feathers.
And it's a combination of all those things.
I want to show people all the little detail,
the intricacies of what you see on the ground,
what you see through the filigree of trees.
How one thing is seen in front of another thing,
is seen in front of another thing.
How they're different surfaces,
different qualities of light, different textures.
And how you put it down on a two-dimensional plane
in order to show all that complexity,
I have to invent ways
of explaining that.
I tend to paint one surface and then I'll paint something over the top of that surface
and then there'll be another painting on the top of that
which is sealed in acrylic medium.
And it can be several layers.
You look through my paintings as much as across the paintings.
And you can definitely see each individual layer
and the gap between each individual layer.
When I work, I require total silence in order to reach a state of mind
in which my body, my mind and my work
are a single and harmonious unit.
When I paint I like to stand up.
And then to me to paint is like going to battle with yourself.
I have to win.
I have to bully the painting, you see.
Either by destroying it, or by keeping it.
And there's no compromise, and because of that
I think every painting that I manage to complete, I think is a victory.
I scrape, I splash, I change, I expand
and I evolve.
And I never know where I will end up.
I think it is this very challenge that keeps me going,
and it is also the unknown that creates such enormous
and irresistible temptation to go further and further.
As I paint,
I go through a spectrum of emotions.
Wave after wave of thoughts come to me.
And then what I usually do is use the brush to dip into the jar of colour
to which I feel the most passionate response at that particular moment.
Whenever my concentration has been disturbed,
or I have spent any time away from a piece of work,
it usually takes me some time to go back to it.
And if that happens I usually skip or do some stretching,
or practice my martial art moves.
And that gives me a lot of fresh energy to go on.
I always finish a painting in one go no matter how long it takes.
It could be two hours, three hours.
I have all the energy and patience in the world,
to make it happen and to await the new birth.
Critical evaluation from the outside can actually come from different sources.
Sometimes it can come from other artists,
but also in my position as a portrait painter
one of the most important criticisms is often from
the client, the sitter,
and how they feel about how I've represented them.
So I've had clients who've said, "Oh, that doesn't look like me.
"My nose is too big!" Or "Make me thinner."
And sometimes you have to strike a balance between pleasing your client
and doing exactly what you want.
So in that situation there,
you definitely have to respond to personal critique.
But then in my personal work, if someone doesn't like it,
if it's a technical issue, then I'll probably listen and say,
"Oh, thank you for the advice."
If someone says, "I don't like that cos it's red, I don't like red,
"it won't go with my bathroom," I think, "Well, I like it red."
The people that I try to please, if any,
are the people that are important to me.
I have people that I speak to that I bounce ideas off from,
and often they say, have you considered this, for example?
And I think it's the closeness of who they are that's important,
that will affect me to think about the collections I put out,
rather than a magazine or someone writing to say that they do or don't like something.
So from that point of view, it's a yes or no type of thing.
It depends who is saying it.
From a business point of view, absolutely, if a buyer came to us
and said they would consider buying if you made the jacket longer,
obviously you'd do that, within reason that it doesn't change the overall design.
But that hardly ever happens these days.
I think being new on the British fashion scene, we're at that stage
where people are sitting back and watching what it is that I do.
And hopefully the styles are all in the right place.
As a designer I've been doing good,
and from a business point of view, which is the collective Jacob Kimmie,
we've been doing good at the same time.
There are people that I feel that I want and need to impress.
And it's not necessarily the editor of Vogue, or a newspaper as such.
And I think that's the way I work, it's a need
wanting to make the customer happy,
in fashion, that's what it's all about.
A piece might be finished, be exhibited,
have been exhibited in the same form for ten years.
And then it will be in my studio and I'll be looking at it,
and I'll think, "You're not finished!"
And I'll work on it again.
And sometimes, it's better,
and sometimes I think, "Oh, I've ruined it!"
You paint something once
with one colour and think, "I'll fire it and see what it looks like."
and it comes out and you think, "That's enough."
And other times you paint... like one I've got here, which I think I might paint again.
Because I painted her with some red and then painted some glaze on her,
and I think she looks a complete mess!
She's either going in the bin or she's going to get repainted,
just to see whether something else can happen.
I think there are certain people
who, if they said something about your work
you would take notice.
It's whether you're bright enough
to understand what they've said is relevant to you.
Everybody interprets things differently.
There's the old adage that
"The viewer always knows much more than the artist intended."
Because there are so many more viewers out there,
and everybody has an opinion.
And in a sense, everybody's right!
If it's a good piece of art, it can cope with all that.
You know, because it has so many ways of being interpreted.
Somebody said in an exhibition I had,
"All your people look towards the right of the canvas.
And I looked at it and I thought, "They do!"
I'd never thought of that! Obviously it wasn't all,
but the huge amount of them looking to the right.
I think it's to do with reading, the idea of reading across.
And in the West we read from left to right.
That is really, really interesting psychologically.
Why am I doing that? And that made me rethink everything.
That was about ten years ago, somebody said that.
You think, "That's fascinating!"
When I paint... Usually I'm not aware of what I'm doing.
When I fully focus, my hand is guided by my heart.
And because I paint from my heart,
when it is finished, my heart will tell me to stop.
When I create,
I never consider the viewer's mind or what they think of my work.
When I paint, I paint with my heart and am very sincere about it.
And then up to my viewer to use their imagination to see it,
and use your heart to feel it.
You have to know a little bit about promotion.
A very good friend of mine,
who's reasonably famous,
always said to me that there are lots of people with their hands in the air shouting,
"Me, me, me, me!" And he said,
"If you're not one of them, it's definitely not going to be you."
For me as a portrait painter,
a lot of my income comes from commissioned work.
I feel very, very lucky that I am able to earn money
from doing something that I really enjoy.
When I was a student at university,
selling paintings meant that I didn't have to be a waitress,
which is just as well, because I'd really have hated it!
The way they come to me very often is they see my work in exhibitions.
So I make sure that I put paintings into exhibitions in London at least once a year.
The work that you put into that is your calling card.
People will see that and that's all that they will know about you.
So I do my best to make that the best painting I can.
And if I'm working in different styles, I'll maybe
aim the style to the exhibition and the market in question.
I live by selling my art.
But all my sales and exhibitions
are taken care of by my dealer in London.
And my job is now solely to produce some good work to sell.
And it was very hard,
difficult for me at the beginning.
And I had to do other jobs,
so that I had enough money to pay for my materials
and the rent of the little poky studio, you see.
Even nowadays I still have to be very careful about spending my money,
because I never know when my next painting will be sold.
And even I have exhibitions,
there is no guarantee they will result in good sales.
Over the years I've built up lots of different outlets for my work.
Um, for my originals.
When I was younger I just put on all my own exhibitions.
That's a great way to learn how to deal with people.
Over the years I've built up relationships with gallery owners.
When I produce a new piece of work, I send it to them.
Then they will include me in exhibitions.
Or you have a solo show, so you build a whole body of work.
And now I have quite a lot of outlets for my prints,
and I have a lot of different galleries that I deal with who sell my original works.
I invent work for myself,
in that I'll put my sculpture on the street, you know.
And I discovered that you can do that in England
without planning permission for 28 days.
So just by talking to arts officers in various boroughs,
I was able to put my work out.
And just by having this conversation about showing work,
they involve you in other projects and you generate work.
In terms of marketing or letting people see what we do,
the internet's really a quick and easy way to show people what we do from a distance.
Or, you know, wherever somebody is.
But also as a kind of way to make work
specifically for that format that anyone can also access.
And people then immediately get a sort of sense of what we're doing,
whether it's just from a DVD box or, you know,
from the sort of design of the website.
I think it's really important that what I do sells well,
because that's how I make my living.
If my pictures don't fit in today's interiors,
then people aren't going to buy them and hang them.
So I think if I have something that I particularly want to do
which is not very marketable, not very saleable,
then I'll do it and keep it for myself.
If I want to make a living, then my picture's got to hang on somebody's wall.
I do have a publishing company and they distribute the work
all over the world through major outlets.
They are people that I wouldn't get to myself with the originals,
so I'm really, really glad of that help.
I think the idea of wanting to be a fashion designer,
and I think the flamboyant image that's perpetuated
by what we think designers are all about, isn't real!
In fashion you're only as good as what your team is.
There is no Jacob Kimmie without the team.
And I think that perhaps is where the idea of, "Are you an artist?
"Are you a craftsman?
"Are you a business?" You know, "Are you a marketer?
"Are you a PR?" It is everything, at the end of the day, in fashion.
I teach to supplement my making.
But I also see my teaching as being quite important
to my own practice as well, because I teach fine art.
I'm talking to 18-year-olds mainly, who are interested in that area.
And so I go... When I teach and I work, I'm talking about ideas.
I'm talking about artists and exhibitions that I've seen
or they've seen, and it's part of the conversation.
So it does feed into my practice.
We recognised that the entrance into Liverpool,
its main gateway, its railway station,
environmentally was very poor.
So we knew we needed to do something positive,
we knew it needed to be a big scheme,
and so we've demolished a 13-storey tower,
we've demolished a series of 1970s shops,
and they're going to be replaced by
just a very simple public realm scheme, with ramps and steps.
As part of that, we wanted to populate it with public art.
The Liverpool commission,
they didn't ask me to come up with an idea.
I was selected on the strength of my work,
and then really, the brief is the site.
It seemed obvious to me that the site is kind of to do with travel.
The majority of people leaving Europe went through Liverpool Lime Street Station
and down to Liverpool Docks and got on ships going to New York, Canada.
I wanted to make a work that reflected
that sort of founding journey of Liverpool, in a sense.
I got on a container ship and travelled across the Atlantic
and finally ended up in this little town called Liverpool.
And on this journey that took four weeks, I made 194 drawings.
And then eventually they're going to be installed
in the ground of this new site
etched into York stone.
So as you arrive at Liverpool Lime Street,
you'll look out at the city of Liverpool
but through drawings coming from the wrong Liverpool.
I think public art is very important for a city.
I think there's something joyful about public art, good public art.
It actually provides an identity.
The way I approach a commission is to think about
and analyse the location, the place where the commission's going.
The brief of the Meeting Place was short but precise.
In terms of the dimensions, the weight, the height, the material.
Paul's brief was to create an iconic sculpture
that could sit beneath the clock,
symbolise the station as a meeting place.
But at the same time become famous, become talked about
and be a centre point for debate
but not detract from the architecture of the station.
It had to be romantic, accessible, sort of democratic.
And something that could easily be distinguished and remembered.
Paul quite quickly honed in on this idea of a couple meeting,
and that went through several different incarnations,
for example, a snogging couple we had first of all,
but we reminded him, "This is a British station,
"and has the requisite amount of reserve."
And so in the end the couple were...
Their heads were moved slightly so that they had a meeting of foreheads and a meeting of minds.
If the restrictions that are placed in the brief are sensible,
have been thought out and are realistic,
then it's stimulating and it helps focus the mind.
What has changed making public works
is my appreciation of the impact of my work on an environment,
and a factoring in into my thinking,
my creative thinking, the space and the knock-on effect of the work in that space.
It's tempting to want to go back and tinker with an idea.
In this case there was no time, it had to be done quickly and promptly.
People have to come across a work of art
and firstly be struck by it visually and physically.
But then if that's followed by an emotional attachment,
which leads to possibly other layers of interpretation,
that's the function that art should adopt.
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