How To Isolate: Art Industry Interviews – Oliver Malin




Dearly beloved, we are all unfortunately still gathered here on this unexpected Summer holiday to a destination unknown. Beyond attempting survival via staying put in our abodes via an hour’s exercise at the kind of distance needed to ensure you can still exercise longer term, life is becoming weird, well perhaps not becoming but evolving into a mausoleum of ludicrous uncertainty. Hope is apparently also now available again as some of the major supermarkets have lifted purchase restrictions. How to survive? Read On…

I do apologise to our departing readers from the Tik-Tok generation; however, I suppose they left after 15 seconds

The vague chance “The Antiques Roadshow” in its entirety crash lands on Iplayer is keeping me buoyant whilst most of our collective stockpiles of h-o-p-e have been diverted to the pursuit of the curve being flattened, even Kim Kardashian is on board, her derriere too. Maybe I am the only one with such an outlandish wish to view historical valuations of pottery in the blissful comfort of the grounds of an English stately home via a trusted source wearing a bow tie or just remember what normality looked like on the telly.

Sidestepping away from Kim Kardashian momentarily, who is the greatest living performance artist, sorry (not sorry) Marina Abramović, we now dip in the infinity pool of inquisitiveness first with Hayden Kays. This brush, paint & wordsmith applies a unique linguistic athleticism, favouring a playful reminder of our inevitable end destination (DEATH) as his logo & could be argued as Margate’s answer to Martin Luther. He may not have nailed his 95 theses to a church in Wittenberg yet but creates such arresting images at times that could start their reformation & at least some kind of schism. From an agitator, we go to the other side of the spectrum to a charmer, Charming Baker. This coiffured suivre Gentleman presents a kind of English Nightmare realm as if the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe was art directing. From Sleepy Hollow vibes we burrow down to the catacombs of Clerkenwell & doff a cap at Steven Lowe, Founder of L-13 Light Industrial workshop. This Aladdin’s cave of printing presses & creative guile is the gateway to the artistic environment which harbours the likes of Billy Childish & Jamie Reid, so something must be going right. Artificially positioned next to him stands an acerbic humourist straight out of the mean streets of Petach Tikva, outside of Tel Aviv, presumably still accessible by sherut (google it). This former art critic for GQ, was relieved of his duties due to being too well dressed, as he had access to the emperor’s new clothes. This bespeckle polymath writer and cat wrangler might be your next best friend for when we are released from our cages and mate like Rabbits once did at Easter. Please help your cause and be your own hero in these tough times by buying his book on Amazon, but I am not hyperlinking it, nepotism is more suited to vampirical causes. I’ve suddenly realised how long this is getting, so do apologise to our departing readers from the Tik-Tok generation; however, I suppose they left after 15 seconds. If you’ve decided to settle in for the night & call Artlyst your friend, I can next serve up Nimrod’s homeboy Henry Hudson. HH presently a wonderfully luscious visual world not unlike Jessie Makinson (see previous interview) His entry point has been the kneading of plasticine, bending it to his will, but has subsequently demonstrated his ability to be one of the finest draughtsmen across any media, show off. Last but necessarily needed to correct the gender imbalanced presented by this BO riddled male-centric article written by a man, is India Irving. A sun side up Los Angelite, who has found her way to the London Art World, surviving the slippery slope of Blain|Southern & now champions emerging Female and POC artists. Stay safe, well-read and fed. 

Hayden Kays

How have the unforeseen circumstances affected your practice & how have you chosen to respond creatively? 

To be honest, I’ve been extremely fortunate and have not been greatly affected. My current studio is on a fairly sparsely populated industrial estate and I’m able to get there without making any close human contact. Being an artist can be the essence of self-isolation in times of health, so in times of sickness, nothing really changes – apart from the rest of the world joining in.

How is your mental health at the moment & what are you doing to stay positive? 

I’m fed up with hearing about coronavirus and also can’t stop talking about it. I lean towards optimism, I’m painfully aware of how lucky I am to have been born at all, let alone where I was born in the world, then load on being male, chuck in being white, sprinkle with reasonable health and garnish with almost unending options and opportunities that weren’t available, even a couple of generations ago. I’m fine. 

With all this potential free time, what are you going to do/ learn anything new?

I don’t have ‘free time’. I’m a self-employed artist. It’s a 24/7 gig. If we have a total lockdown, I’ll do some things around the flat I’ve been neglecting for months. My fiancée has been threatening to exercise me for years. This may be the moment she wins.

What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners?

You’re totally fucked if you’re taking advice from me. 

What have you been listening to on Spotify since this madness really kicked off? 

Is Tropical have magic new music out. Bones UK always delivers on enviable energy. Johnny Lloyd is a staple studio partner. Harry Styles latest album is excellent.

How to Isolate

Charming Baker

Charming Baker 

How have the unforeseen circumstances affected your practice & how have you chosen to respond creatively? 

Quite honestly, it’s really not changed my day to day practice at all. I’ve been self-isolating for a long time already like nearly all artists. When I work, I lock myself away in the studio and don’t tend to speak to many people, and many of those people are having conversations over the phone. I did try to buy some wood the other day in a store and found I couldn’t (what was I thinking). Fortunately, I like the idea of ‘making do’. Somehow it seems to take to pressure off everything being perfect. I haven’t responded directly to the pandemic, but it has influenced my thoughts, of course. It’s all-consuming for everyone just now. I guess it will all come out in one way or another. In a couple of years, I might look at the work I’ve produced now and see what was going on in me proper. Who knows? 

 How is your mental health at the moment & what are you doing to stay positive?

My mental health has always been questionable. Something that’s pointed out to me regularly. But when the art fairs, galleries, auctions houses all shut down in the space of a week it’s pretty easy to start to panic. I’ve learned for me working on edge of panic seems to be the only way I will get anything done. I can’t control what is happening in the world around me. I can only keep working and hope we all weather the storm. I also want to keep perspective on it all. Outside in the world, people are losing loved ones, livelihoods and whatever else. There are certainly people in dire straits! The one positive I try to keep is that maybe the world might be better on the other side of all this. I’m just working. Dario, who owns Jealous gallery/print studio is self-isolating at home and cooking meals for the homeless among looking after his artists and staff. Locked up at work I’m just worried about finding loo roll and if I should use alizarin crimson or lake. Working helps, but I must keep things in perspective. To stay positive, I find it useful to get smashed occasionally and think about nothing more than what salty snacks are left in the house. For me, it’s a brief holiday from all the despair and the unknowns we’re facing at the moment. It’s a method that can be used for other problems in life too.

With all this potential free time, what are you going to do/ learn anything new?

I haven’t seen it as free time (do artists have free time? Is all the time artists have free?) I’ll keep working while I can, and then there are always plenty of jobs to do at home when I can’t. With the shops as they are maybe it’s time to start growing my own vegetables.

What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners?

Especially starting out on a career in art- don’t do it, get a proper job, get a trade, learn something that will earn you money and work with people you like – all the things parents say to their children when their children say they want to become artists. At the moment I wish I had a job that was needed. For this time- who am I to give anyone advice? I think we’re all muddling through this in the same way. I suppose just keep working at something. I always like that Churchill quote (Winston, not the nodding dog) – ‘When you’re going through hell, just keep going.’

What have you been listening to on Spotify since this madness really kicked off?

I don’t often listen to Spotify. I hate the way streaming sites try to tempt you with ‘music you may like’. It’s always wrong, and annoying, it’s like having music in your collection that you would never want in your collection. I sound old. The madness did prompt me, though to set up my old record player. Now I sound properly old. I listen to a lot of music. I have very catholic taste.

 

Steven Lowe

Steven Lowe

Steven Lowe

 How have the unforeseen circumstances affected your practice & how have you chosen to respond creatively? 

Apart from getting annoyed with the hysteria and doom-mongers, my mental health has never been better. I’m enjoying the downtime and just getting on with whatever needs doing. I’m naturally pro-active and optimistic. We’re just about to ship some Billy Childish painting to South Korea for a show opening in Seoul at the end of April. I think that’s a good sign that there is life post coronavirus panic, and not everyone died. 

With all this potential free time, what are you going to do/ learn anything new?

I hope to learn to take everything at a slower pace. Now my 14-year-old daughter is out of school she’s learning embroidery and Italian with the help of YouTube and online courses. I think that’s a good sign.

What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners? 

Remember to laugh and don’t pander to the current scenario too much. If everyone makes work in response to this, it could get incredibly dull. Stay above it.

What have you been listening to on Spotify since this madness really kicked off?

 We’re making our own soundtrack, so I haven’t been listening to much else. If I did, maybe I’d have Punch-Out by Pussy Galore on loop.

How to Isolate

Nimrod Kamer

Nimrod Kamer

 How have the unforeseen circumstances affected your practice & how have you chosen to respond creatively?

I’m hosting talks in the various Soho houses, it all got cancelled. I’m waiting to get some universal basic income. I also write people’s Wikipedia, that’s still going on. Wikipedia would last a lot longer than Instagram in the future 

How is your mental health at the moment & what are you doing to stay positive? 

To stay activated, I’m using the uber jump bike. They’re electric, so you don’t sweat at all and not get close to any human while doing it, cause it is so fast. 

With all this potential free time, what are you going to do/ learn anything new?

Survive

What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners?

My advice for isolated people is to realise how unimportant they are in society. Food delivery personnel & drivers appear to be much more crucial than you. That is a comforting thought.

What have you been listening to on Spotify since this madness really kicked off?

I’ve been listening to the soundtrack of Cinema Paradiso all day.

How to Isolate

Henry Hudson

 Henry Hudson

How have the unforeseen circumstances affected your practice & how have you chosen to respond creatively?

I’ve just started painting every day. I’m painting day to day experiences. My walk, the supermarket, my gloves, the streets of east London. An empty shelf . I’m making a diary of this moment. I’ve never felt more creative which is weird. 

I work every day of my life, so the routine hasn’t changed much. However, I employ nine people and their lives are about to be affected as 12 weeks of closing that studio down is about to take place, but so far we all still working. It’s a daily thing. Some staff at home is already working on the website and HR things. 

How is your mental health at the moment & what are you doing to stay positive?

 My mental health is ok right now, actually. In fact, it’s never been better it this is because I was sent to boarding school at seven and bullied for 16 years. So I’m tough in these situations as they train you to be like this. I love being institutionalised; basically, it doesn’t get bigger than this. I go on long walks and routine of painting in the afternoon the things I’m experiencing in the morning keep that focus. Being productive right now is essential 

With all this potential free time, what are you going to do/ learn anything new?

Learn the flute 

What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners?

This is the best time to zero distractions so work your arse off, our economy has/is/will tank so get going on making work, so you have a great body of work to show when this shit show is over. Obviously, some of the greatest art comes out of these situations. 

What have you been listening to on Spotify since this madness really kicked off?

Funnily enough I usually only listen to opera and film soundtracks or what Spotify calls “alternative” music. But in the last week I’ve been listening to 90s music from when I grew up, it’s comforting I guess and nostalgic.  

How to self isolate

India Irving

India Irving

How have the unforeseen circumstances affected your practice & how have you chosen to respond creatively?

I think if anything this whole situation is humbling. We have all been reminded that we are small cogs in a huge wheel. But I do believe that what can lift us out of this, both emotionally and spiritually, is art in all its forms.

I am taking time to speak to artists all over the world and making sure they’re ok. I am

working with them to help them make sales during this time but I also am just trying to be there for them as a friend – same goes with collectors.

On my Instagram, I am continuing to share art with my friends and followers because I find that seeing the beauty humans can create is therapeutic for me during this time and I hope it can also bring some relief to others.

How is your mental health at the moment & what are you doing to stay positive?

My mental health is definitely up and down. Sometimes I feel hopeful and other times I find myself catastrophizing big time, but through the emotional ups and down I am doing my best to stay positive and productive. 

I’ve been exercising every day and trying to get fresh air, which I find helps a lot. I have also been making an extra effort to speak to friends and family and try and help my community in whatever ways I can. 

Speaking with artists and interacting with art also helps me stay positive and gives me hope. 

With all this potential free time, what are you going to do/ learn anything new?

I am absolutely taking this time to learn both more about my craft and about myself. I also think reading fiction helps because it’s important to have an escape – in particular one that doesn’t involve a screen. At the same time, there are moments I just want to drink wine and binge watch a show and I let myself do that too! It’s all about balance and being kind to ourselves. 

What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners?

I would say stay connected to those you love and reach out to someone new every day. Whether that be a creative you admire or an old friend – human connection is so powerful and can make a huge difference. 

If there’s a creative pursuit you’ve never tried but had always wanted to – go for it! Make sure you are aware of what you’re consuming and be certain that there is a greater amount of positive content than negative.

 What have you been listening to on Spotify since this madness really kicked off?

Two of my friends I met through the art world have made sick (literally) Corona playlists that I can’t stop listening to. Links here & here 

Read More Interviews From Isolation



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