DURING THE SURFACE GALLERY'S ANNUAL STREET ART FESTIVAL, THIS YEAR LUCY MUSSON HAS BEEN INTERVIEWING THE ARTISTS ABOUT THEIR PRACTICE, WHAT STREET ART MEANS TO THEM, AND QUESTIONS SURROUNDING THE GENRE MORE BROADLY.
FIRST IN OUR SERIES OF INTERVIEWS, IS SOCIAL ARTIVIST...
Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistic background. How did you get into creating art and/or Street Art?
When my daughter was born 9 years ago this changed my world. My perspective towards myself as I stepped up into this new responsibility shifted, as well as my outlook on the world she would be growing up in.
As a result, it was around this time I became more political engaged and I explored this new passion through creative acts. I’m a self-taught artist from the city of Nottingham, trying to stamp my mark on the world using political art as my weapon. I believe art can be used as a tool to see positive change happen. And perhaps, in the same way that becoming a father made me look with fresh eyes at myself and society, so can art produce a similar type of push, jolt or momentum for change.
Why do you create art and/or Street Art? Why is it important to you?
I create art as a way to explore and visualise my frustrations and worries about our society. Ultimately it is made to be shared and seen by people; to encourage others to see things from a different point of view, to make people think.
Do you have any key influences (for your work in general and/or the specific body of work in this exhibition)? What does your creative process look like? How do you go about creating your work?
The source of my ideas and work comes largely from my own engagement with topical issues through reading books and being aware of stories that are developing around me - in Nottingham, in the UK, or the world at large.
The style and techniques I use in my work come from experimentation. If something feels like it’s working, then I run with it.
You’ve spoken about how your work draws from themes and issues in society. Can you talk about this in more detail?
To use an example from my work on display at the gallery, We Extract uses the familiar and iconic image of Marmite. It is meant to be visually playful and asks people to tune into the subtleties of the image in relation to the text: ‘We extract minerals…’ and the overall connotations of British culture, specifically the monarchy. But ultimately my work isn’t closed to only one opinion, rather I’d like it to open up questioning around a particular facet of our society. The person looking is given a visual space to work out their own response and ideas. Like I said before, I ultimately want my work to help people think.
Street Art is everywhere: from LA, Egypt to Moscow, and it’s also one of the Surface Gallery’s most popular annual shows. What is it about Street Art in your opinion, that makes it such a popular art form?
It offers an outlet away from mainstream art galleries and culture. It has a grassroots and underground basis which helps make it relevant and powerful. It also gives artists and viewers alike a chance to speak their mind about the world. It forges a community; it is a public expression.
One thing I often tell my daughter is that anything creative must come from the heart. It’s cliché I know, but it’s true. Also have patience – developing your style can take time