Meet our artists: Q&As
Part of an ongoing series, studio holders share insights about their work, their stories and what happens inside their studios. Visit this page to read more.
Would you like to tell us about yourself?
Born in 1951 in New York City, but have lived in London most of my life.
Married to the painter Chloë Fremantle.
A musician, songwriter, broadcaster, cartoonist – I also taught for many years at Warwick University (Creative Writing), the RCA (Senior Tutor in Visual Writing), and the Lucerne School of Art and Design.
What kind of art do you make?
For decades I’ve been using illustration to compare how we Imagine, Observe, and Remember. A book of that title about this ‘outsider science’ project was published in 2021 by Uniformbooks.
Since 2020 I’ve been making ‘Flightless Kites’ – mixed media constructions on cradled panels. These usually involve constructing an armature of wooden struts, which is then covered in glue-soaked tissue, painted and finally ‘rigged’ with string.
But I also draw – in pen and ink, charcoal, etc. And paint – in acrylics, watercolour and gouache.
What themes are you interested in?
Physics, Metaphysics, and most of all, ‘Pataphysics. Humour. Poetry. Encyclopedias – our nostalgia for the infinite and thirst to know everything (hubris). Model-making. Toys. Numinosity. Milk. Stone. Eros.
Who are your artistic influences / heros?
My parents were both artists from whom I learned a lot. My wife, our daughter and son are artists and we all influence each other in a healthy incestuous way. I like outsider art, Tantric art, Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Marcel Duchamp, Cornelia Parker, Paul Klee, Vija Celmins, Arschile Gorky, Edward Gorey, Balthus, Calder, Picasso, Matisse, Braque…
What inspires you to make art?
Curiosity. Love. Anxiety. Perversity.
What inspires you to keep making art?
Curiosity. Love. Anxiety. Perversity. And habit. By now I’m not fit to do anything else and I don’t yet have the courage to do nothing. And I like to think my work gets better the longer I keep at it.
What advice would you give to new artists starting out?
I might quote Jean Cocteau: ‘cultivate your flaws, they’re the truest thing about you.’
Did the lockdown change the direction of your practice or interests?
Being grounded during lockdown inspired the idea of the ‘flightless kites’ which I’m still making. It also eliminated a lot of distractions so I was able to finish my book ‘Imagine, Observe, Remember.’.
Do you have any upcoming shows?
Chloë Fremantle and I will be showing recent work at the new RWS gallery 3-5 Whitcomb St, WC2H 7HA from 1 – 12 November 2022. The show is called ‘Light Seeking Light’.