Sunday, 13 July 2008

Artist of the Week - Stephen Maxwell Campbell

Stephen is my business name and Stephen is my name, but more commonly people call me Stiven in Torun and Staszek in Krakow

My work is;
Not cool, not didactic, not famous, not shocking, not incomprehensible, and hopefully not boring, but peacefull
Film about Stephen Here

Money spent on Cherry flavoured jaffa cakes is never wasted
I wanted to say coffee, but I need to calm down on my caffeine addiction. Nothing is worth spending money on, if I didn't have money I'd still be doing what I'm doing but probably wouldn't earn very much from it. I can't say money spent on art is never wasted, hmm. In Poland they have Cherry flavoured jaffa cakes, so money spent on them is never wasted.

One favourite living artist?
Jacek Yerka, because he has the sort of imagination I'd like to crawl into and never leave.

One favourite historical maker?
Mother Nature, well it's self explanatory, she's made the best things

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
I think it was sitting on the parquet floor behind the sofa at my Grandma's house drawing on computer paper from one of the very first computers, I think it had UMIST or Victoria University of Manchester written down the side, with felt-tip pens that would pierce the thin paper at the edges of the wooden tiles.

Do you work best on your own or in collaboration?
I like working in collaboration, but probably not with painters. I've worked with musicians and sculptors and its been fun, I've not had to see the final piece and think, 'god what have you done to my painting?'

What was the last art thing you purchased?
I think it was a pair of large prints by Szymon Rychlik one rather macabre of a trickle of bright red blood coming from a washing machine, and another of a woman with a 1970s washing machine full of rubber toys. I saw them in the best launderette in Krakow if you ever go its on ul. wrzesinska number 6. They had the old washing machine from the photographs there, which I thought was rather endearing until I moved into a flat with one, now I hate them, it eats my clothes. Launderettes in Poland are nothing like the ones in England, they serve coffee, they're clean, the staff are friendly and helpful, there's one in Torun that's half restaurant, cafe, half launderette. hmm seem to be more enthusiastic about the launderette. It was quite strange buying the photographs, I didn't realise we already knew each other, he and his girlfriend make shoes. I like the colours and composition, the humour, the retro element, even though I'm not keen retro things, and how the light is cast on the objects.

Last best read?
Oooh at the moment I'm reading house of day house of night by Olga Tokarczuk, its fascinating but quite morbid, its full of recipes for poisonous mushrooms, but so far Ryszard Kapuszinski and Tadeusz Konwicki are in the lead. It's not easy getting Polish books in English in England (actually its probably harder in Poland) but if you're interested in the world, Kapuszinski is amazing, he's been everywhere, seen things I had no idea happened. The other journalists used to watch wherever he went because they knew that if he was going somewhere, something truly historical was about to happen.

Who would you say buys your work?
All kinds of people. Barmen, people who work for the post office, millionaires, drunk people who go to the cabaret where I paint, a Nano-scientist, mostly people who see me painting.

How do you set about starting a new project?
I procrastinate, then find out if I can get the materials I need for free in order to experiment. I've just started some experiments this week, I got the free materials by helping some friends take furniture from their parents house in the country. Next door, who happened to be relatives (I don't want to make any snide comments but the whole village seemed to be related) were having a party to celebrate a baby's 1st birthday, which involved bottle after bottle of vodka and a huge spitroasted pig with radishes for eyes. After a few bottles of vodka everyone loves you and will gladly give you all the glass and steel you can carry, as well as freshly picked cherries from the orchard. I almost forgot to mention the half blind old man tanked up with vodka tearing around the garden on an enormous quad bike. So hat's off to procrastination

What do you have on your pinboard?
I don't have a pinboard but I've got little sketches of shadows on my wall, a photograph of a woman shaving her face with a cigarette in her mouth, and post it notes all over the place with polish vocabulary.

Where and what is your studio?
Mainly I prefer to work outside, so my studio is everywhere and vast, in this case I prefer to work to the sounds of what's around me, this is very important if you want to paint more than just what things look like. I think there are the sounds, the smells, the temperature, the emotions of the environment in the painting. I make my paint in this case in my space ship, which is my travelling studio, its a van really, but I call it my statek kozmicznego (space ship). When I ran out of space and ended up having to paint over previous paintings I got a flat and now sadly I paint outside and add the never ending layers of glazes indoors to the sounds of car crashes outside (I have a view of an infamous junction) and contemporary classical music.

What is your favourite website? because it encourages me to do more than just paintings, and its fun to spot the work when you're travelling. I have a regular pub I go to in Berlin when I pass through, I came outside because it was getting too smoky and right in front of me was an enormous mural I recognised from the website, it made me feel quite, I don't know, pleased? educated?

Surprising activity?
Watching tower blocks on Monday nights when everyone's watching the same television programme.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
No, if I have a project that's in full swing its hard to do anything else, I get frustrated with having to go to work, I'm thinking of pretending I'm crazy.

Would you rather be doing something else?
I'd like to be a blacksmith, I always prefer to be doing something else, when I'm with my friends I'd rather be painting, when I'm painting I'd rather be with my friends. No, I love painting, but I don't like exhibiting or organising them, I think it would be fun to be a ghost painter.

Do you think art and craft has any real importance?
If the world is going to continue for a long time then yes, if it's about to end then probably no.

Are their other fields that you'd like to apply some facet of your work into?
Yes I want to conduct an orchestra on a ferris wheel in a factory

Can anything be 'art'?
Could that be rephrased into 'Is anything 'art'?'. Some people say that if an artist says its art then it is, but who says who an artist is? So much art is only 'art' because it's in a gallery. Apparently there was an art competition in Poland, but they were doing repairs somewhere in the gallery, the workers went on a break and when they returned they'd won first prize, I don't know if that's true. Someone told me that I'm an artist, someone else told me that because I'm an artist, everything I do is art, this made me feel rather nice, but if I tell someone they're beautiful, they're only beautiful to me. I think the only people who can say whether something is 'art' or not are people with no education in art, if we let art get so over intelectualised like it is, it stops being special, ok Duchamp's fountain is art, it worked like art - it got people thinking, and made people angry, happy etc it doesn't mean that we should start bowing down to everything like the idiots chasing Brian in the monty python film. However if you think something's art, why not? I don't have to agree with you.


brainturnip said...

Nice one Steve

brainturnip said...
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