Melbourne Monthly Madness – July 2013 (belated)

Apologies for the delay posting this. I have had to hold off posting it due to Illegal August.

HAHA - Photo by David Russell
HAHA – Photo by David Russell

Metro Gallery started off the month with the opening of their group show “Writing on the Wall” with works from local and international artists such as Swoon, Rone, Matt Adnate, HAHA, Word to Mother, E.L.K, Dabs Myla and D*Face and more. Some shots from the opening below and more here.

Rone - Photo by David Russell
Rone – Photo by David Russell
Word to Mother - Photo by David Russell
Word to Mother – Photo by David Russell

The day after the opening Metro hosted more live painting, this month featuring work by Unwell Bunny, Two One and again E.L.K. More shots here.

Unwell Bunny - Photo by David Russell
Unwell Bunny – Photo by David Russell
Two One - Photo by David Russell
Two One – Photo by David Russell
E.L.K - Photo by David Russell
E.L.K – Photo by David Russell

Chaotic Gallery’s 1st show BRUISER by Creature Creature was a cracker. A massive turnout for the Southside’s newest gallery. The works were amazing; a combination of the two artists styles which mesh so well together, featuring influences from the samurai era throughout. Check out some of my favourite pieces below and more here.  Also check out some of their recent paste ups, which I also love, here.

Creature Creature - Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature – Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature - Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature – Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature - Photo by David Russell
Creature Creature – Photo by David Russell

Continue reading “Melbourne Monthly Madness – July 2013 (belated)”

Tim Hans shoots… Word To Mother

Word to Mother 1

While on a recent visit to London, Tim Hans photographed with seven artists for our continuing series of photo-portraits by Tim. This week, we have Tim’s photographs of Word To Mother, along with an interview by Shower.

Also, Word To Mother has been as he puts it ‘analogue’ since we met him. In a small attempt to contribute to the digital world, he has got himself an instagram. Go follow him for regular updates on his work – @wordtomother.

Shower: I expect you have been asked this on numerous occasions but where did the name Word to Mother originate?

Word To Mother: It was never supposed to be a name. I started writing Word To Mother next to my pieces in about 2003…I like the expression, it’s affirmation of the Mother’s and classic Hip Hop phraseology, perfect! Illmatic is also one of my favourite albums so I guess that had a part to play in it all.

I started using Word To Mother as a name when I wanted to make a distinction between the fine art I was producing and everything else. I like the anonymity a pseudonym allows, it means the art is at the forefront and I am somewhere in the background.

S: Your style is very distinctive, your characters tend to be warm and welcoming with a strange complexity, and are usually found juxtaposed against stylised typography. What influences you and this style?

WTM: I have never knowingly tried to construct a style, it’s an ongoing process that is continually changing…I just try and do me, not look at what others are doing for inspiration, but to outside sources; architecture, sign writing, vintage cartoons, nature…

My strongest works are produced when I’m not thinking about what I’m doing, the images almost draw themselves. You can see by the weight of line in my sketches when a drawing is going to work. If the line is heavy then I’m not chilled and the drawing is forced. The best stuff is super fine and is like a subconscious wandering of thoughts.

S: On the subject of characters, Disney and other cartoon varieties feature regularly, which is your favourite and why?

WTM: I don’t have one favourite and the list is endless so let me just give you my starting five:

Early Mickey Mouse

Sponge Bob

Marvin The Martian

Big Bad Wolf (early Disney)

Ren and Stimpy

S: Do the influences differ between your gallery work and outdoors?

WTM: I have no interest in producing what I do indoors, outdoors. They are two separate things to me.

S: Which came first, indoors or out? Which do you prefer and what keeps you painting outside?

WTM: I’ve always drawn, so working inside came first. Working outside started with graffiti in the late 90’s. If I’m painting outside it has to be fun, and trying to replicate what I do in the gallery, outside, just stresses me out. If I’m painting outside it’s going to be letters but I don’t refer to myself as a writer or street artist, just an artist.

Word to Mother 2

S: If I was describing your art I would say that much of it is illustrative. Would you agree? And have you ever had any professional training to achieve this style or are you self taught?

WTM: I love to draw so I would agree that my work is rooted in illustration. I studied illustration and animation 3 years full time, before then I was like every other small town youth that thinks they can draw…I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. Those 3 years were imperative in deconstructing and rebuilding my drawing. I wouldn’t say that anyone taught me how to draw but that course guided me in the right direction.

S: The first thing that strikes me when I look at one of your pieces is the exceptional level of detail. How do you go about starting a painting to achieve this depth?

WTM: I’m always intimidated by a blank surface, so I begin with loose mark making and tags to create a base to work on. Then it is just a case of building layers and layers of tones, pattern, characters, text etc until the piece comes to life.

S: Your art tends to be found adorning weathered surfaces using a range of mediums – wood, brick, plaster, spray cans or paint brushes. Do you find each piece is dictated by the surface you paint onto or do you look for surfaces with the content in mind?

WTM: I love weathered objects, stuff that is decaying and has existed with another purpose for years, then adding your story to it. When I am painting on these types of surfaces, I try to retain as much of the existing qualities as possible. I’m always on the lookout for those little gems to hoard in my studio. Some stuff I get way too precious about, I have objects and panels that I have had for 6 years that are still yet to be worked on as they are so beautiful already…this is now becoming a problem as I am relocating to a much smaller studio and am going to have to let go of a lot of things. Also, the cost of shipping heavy objects overseas is crippling financially. As a result, my new works are going to be on canvas…you have to adapt with the times…this recession is bullshit.

S: In some of your pieces I have seen nods of appreciation to fellow artists; Sickboy, Ronzo and Roids come to mind, and you have also worked in collaboration with Sickboy on a few projects. Do you enjoy collaborative work and do you feel it brings anything additional to your solo pieces?

WTM: I know the painting you are talking about, it had a section of tags in it which shouted out a few of the homies…it was based on the gallery front on Redchurch street where they buff over all the tags in the same colour…

In terms of collaborating, I have to work with friends. I’m a perfectionist so it has to be a certain way….Sickboy and I moved to London at the same time and were introduced by our friend Stella Dore. We are complete opposites but somehow it works. I am a massive fan of what he does and we both love the same things visually. Whenever we work together it is a succession of sleepless nights and too many jazz woodbines but we always laugh ’til it hurts and end up with something we’re proud of.

S: I rather enjoyed your recent edition of ‘fuck you, pay me’ baseball bats? Is there a hidden story of personal experience?

WTM: A decade of self employment in the creative industry.

S: You seem to be a big fan of tattoos. Are any of yours self designed or influenced by other artists?

WTM: I love tattoos and am lucky enough to own work by Thomas Hooper, Saira Hunjan, Josh Sutterby and Frank Carter to name a few.

T: Do you tattoo others yourself? If not, then would you ever consider a change of career?

WTM: I have been known to tattoo friends but I am certainly not a tattooer. If I wasn’t painting I would consider it, I think it’s a great career for someone that loves to draw. If I were to do it I would stop making art and concentrate on it fully, it is an ancient craft that demands a huge amount of respect.

S: Finally, have you got any specific plans for the future?

As I mentioned I am in the process of moving from my enormous studio to a much smaller space. It’s a shame as I am having to part with a lot of things that I have accumulated over the years…Once that is done I am going to be concentrating all of my energies on making my largest paintings to date for my upcoming show in the incredible new White Walls Gallery space in San Francisco. I’m hoping to work with the incredible Angelino Milano again this year on a bespoke run of screen prints. I haven’t shown in London for a couple of years so 2014 will see another solo show with the StolenSpace family… Other than that I’ll be drawing as usual.

Photos by Tim Hans

Weekend link-o-rama

Kid Acne
Kid Acne at Village Underground in London

Sorry for the late link-o-rama. Caroline came to visit on Thursday, so I’ve been trying to stay offline.

Photo by HowAboutNo!

Weekend link-o-rama


It’s the weekend…

Photo by Jade

Weekend link-o-rama

Lush. Photo by Lush

It’s that time of the week again… Here’s what I’ve been reading across the rest of the web:

  • Caber’s drips are fantastic.
  • Yes, there’s a new Banksy. Moving on…
  • I’d like to point out two fake Banksy social media accounts that I’ve been enjoying late. The first is the @BanksyIdeas Twitter account. It’s full of ideas for future Banksy pieces that will hopefully never be made. The other is The Real Banksy, a tumblr account made by Cardinal Burns. They are a comedy duo with a new show on E4 in the UK, and the guys behind this video. Their suburban Banksy character will feature in every episode of the Cardinal Burns show on E4. Here’s one of their new Banksy sketches.
  • Shepard Fairey has worked with Neil Young to make paintings inspired by Young’s latest album. The work will premiere at Perry Rubenstein Gallery’s brand new LA space in June during a one-day private event. Of the one piece previewed so far, the work looks distinctly Shepard Fairey, but also distinctly un-OBEY. I like it.
  • Saber is upset and taking to Twitter because this fantastic mural was buffed. While Saber seems to think that the wall was buffed for something related to the show Sons of Anarchy, The LA Weekly has the least biased overview of what’s gone down. Whatever reason though, it’s a real shame that that mural was destroyed. I must note that I find it interesting how, in the past, Saber has been all about the rights of property owners to do whatever they want with their walls, but now he has suddenly changed his tone and begun speaking out against public advertisements now that work by his friends has been destroyed. Glad to see the change of heart, but I’m disappointed that it took such an unfortunate incident for Saber to see some of the downsides to public advertisements.
  • Galerie F, possibly Chicago’s next art gallery focusing on street art, has taken to Kickstarter to help fund the repairs to their space that will make it usable a gallery.
  • Jordan Seiler’s latest endeavor is something quite different from PublicAdCampaign… It’s an augmented reality app for Android phones that will insert 3d murals onto potentially any building. Right now, it’s in the beta stages, but this could be huge. Sort of like what FriendWithYou did with Becks, but with even more potential.
  • Word To Mother’s show at White Walls looks great. That said, Word To Mother still seems to be finding his voice. He, as usual, experiments with some styles that are little-more than his own riffs on ideas by Barry McGee, Phil Frost and possibly Saber. In the past, he’s fiddled with things very reminiscent of Swoon and Monica Canilao. But the funny thing is that Word To Mother already has a style that is distinctly his own and almost all of his best work is in that style. While yes, the baseball bats inspired by Phil Frost are cool, it’s the original works on wood featuring characters and bits of text that are the stand-outs and the pieces that are most unique to Word To Mother. I understand not wanting to be boxed in and the urge to experiment, but this piece which clearly developed by spending a lot of time looking at Barry McGee/Phil Frost/maybe Saber is not the way to experiment. Still, overall looks like another cracker of a show from Word To Mother.
  • Two bits of Kaws news this week: He has a show in Hong Kong that his fans are going ga-ga for. I love the red Chum painting, but otherwise I’m not really bothered, although I think Kaws is, surprisingly, someone whose work is best appreciated in person so maybe I’m just plain wrong for being unimpressed by the jpegs. The big news for Kaws though is that there will be a balloon of one of his Companions in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this November.

Photo by Lush

Word to Mother can’t afford to be broke

Word To Mother is busy preparing for his upcoming show in San Fransisco at White Walls Gallery, Can’t Afford to be Broke. After years of successful solo shows in London, it’s great to finally see Word To Mother getting the attention he deserves in the USA too. The show includes new original pieces on wood, painted baseball bats and zines with a screenprinted cover.

Can’t Afford to be Broke opens on May 12th (7-11pm) and runs through June 2nd.

Photo courtesy of White Walls Gallery

The Caravan King – An interview with Sickboy

Book Shredding. Photo by Colin M. Day

In the aftermath of another fantastic gallery show, this time at White Walls in San Francisco, Sickboy took some time out from painting massive walls with Eine to answer a few questions.

Shower: How did the concept of the Wonder Club arise? Can you give some examples of the daydreams that have inspired this body of work?

Sickboy: I used to have an illustrated picture of the Mad Hatters Tea Party in my bedroom as a kid, and it’s still in my family home. To this day I pondered on the thought of its inspiration on my life and that opened up a chasm of ideas. I have also been known to have some crazy dreams, I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s possible to transcribe some of them from the Wonder Club body of work.

You delved into the world of ‘mixed media ephemera’ as part of the show. Can you explain how and why?

Yeah sure, I spent the month prior to the show working and living above a studio in San Francisco, courtesy of the gallery. In that time I collected many story books from local shops and found some great surfaces to paint on including some metal drawers. All of these were included in the show. Many of the books were used in the temple assemblage. I’d remove the covers and paint on the backs of them. It’s satisfying to know that those pieces would never have been created without spending time in San Francisco.

As part of the Wonder Club you aimed to revisit your inner child for inspiration. When I was a kid it was all about Lego and Thunderbirds. Was there a certain toy, film, comic or fairytale that inspired you?

I guess I refer more to what art has represented to me in my youth. I copied Sweeny, the toddler comic strips, and gave them as Christmas presents once, and later down the line my first graffiti pieces mean a lot to me in their naivety. I lost a big bag of photos that had my first pieces in it but I can remember their metallic holts duplicolour essence, that to me is my inner child. Continue reading “The Caravan King – An interview with Sickboy”

So many shows about to open

Bom.k and Sowat of Da Mental Vaporz

There are so many interesting shows opening in the next week or two that I thought I’d just throw them all together into one post. Here’s what I think looks worth checking out:

  • Yesterday, the Museum of Sex in New York opened a show that sounds absolutely awesome called F*ck Art. It’s on through June 10th and features artwork by Aiko, El Celso, Lush, Mode2, Cassius Fouler, Miss Van and many more.
  • Love & Hate is a group show opening at StolenSpace this week and runs through March 4th. D*face, Dan Witz, Ronzo, Word to Mother, Jeff Soto, Eine, Charles Krafft and others are included.
  • Chris Stain, Veng and Taka Sudo will be showing together at C.A.V.E. Gallery, beginning February 11th. Brooklyn Street Art has a preview of Chris’ work.
  • Zes and Retna are together at Known Gallery in LA. LA TACO has the info.
  • Nick Mann aka Doodles, Brett Flanigan, Craig Rodgers and Dan Bortz are collaborating with one another in Oakland, CA.
  • Another collaborative group show will be in Da Mental Vaporz‘ (Bom.k, Blo, Brusk, Dran, Gris1, ISO, Jaw, Kan, and Sowat) show at Melbourne. That show, Le Venin, will be at RTIST Gallery from February 16th through March 4th.
  • All Talk at Pandemic Gallery will include Aakash Nihalani, Cassius Fouler, Gabriel Specter, Jesus Saves, NohJColey and others and runs from February 17th through March 11th.

Photo courtesy of Da Mental Vaporz

Secrets and Sins – A look back at Sickboy’s Heaven & Earth

Despite an afternoon of heavy rain last Thursday, a large crowd was on hand to watch security struggle (literally) to open the doors of the Sickboy’s 3 day London show – Heaven & Earth.  However that delay, plus the relatively slow name checking procedure, mattered for no one as they caught a glimpse of the collection of visual delights that lay beyond.

First up, upon peering into the large open room your eyes were drawn to a caravan standing proudly in the far corner.  Kitted out in the famous red and yellow Sickboy colours, it soon became apparent that this was actually the bar dishing out a variety of booze, and not surprisingly a large queue quickly formed.

But whilst your gaze initially descended upon the brightly coloured mobile holiday home come drinks dispenser, it was impossible to ignore the plethora of meticulously-detailed paintings, riddled with their religious undertones that covered the walls.  Appropriately titled with names such as “King of Undesire”, “Critically Zen”, “Forget” and “Forgiven” these colourful masterpieces encompassed Sickboy’s own notion of heaven and earth. Fantastically detailed with sickly looking characters, rockets, angels, tags, trains, and the odd temple, this body of work was exceptional and a perfect example of how a street artist can translate their work from street to gallery. In fact many other artists should take note!

Prior to the show Sickboy allowed his website visitors to confess all, and get any sins they may have committed off their chests.  Promising to display each and every one, these unedited misdemeanours were projected onto a big screen for all to read.  I rather enjoyed the West End drug dealers who admitted to lacing their wares with a bit of laxative to ensure a messy end for their clients.  And of course there were plenty of sexual references to teachers and their daughter’s, girlfriends and their mum’s.

For all those last minute sins, or for those that just couldn’t think of one before the show opened, a large confessional booth equipped with a priest was on hand.  Although to be honest I am not sure how many visited the booth to confess or to just explore and view more of Sickboy’s artwork which adorned both the outside and in.  Maybe if the priest was hidden behind a screen some may have been more forthcoming, I certainly found it a little weird to just be stood in a small room with another bloke, let alone go ahead explain any times I may have misbehaved.

Whilst the show was billed as one based around four major installations, I personally felt they seemed to blend into each other and consequently it was hard to see each as individual entities.  However I have to admit that that was not necessarily a bad thing and the fourth and final of these installations was perhaps the one I was most looking forward to – a collaboration with 12 of Sickboy’s fellow artists and friends. It came in the form of a series of wooden bricks, a medium Sickboy has visited before, which were then stacked to form a wall. Designs and editions varied but I was most taken by the Word to Mother and Paul Insect collabs and a couple of the Conor Harrington’s. From a sales perspective the installation certainly seemed popular, but it may have just been the due to the sheer size of the space that I felt it became a little lost, maybe it was the fact that the bricks were not over the top.  Nevertheless I really liked the concept and execution of the individual bricks.

In short this was Sickboy at his best and by far my favourite show of the year so far, and I am sure that many in the packed out venue will agree.  This was street art meets gallery, street artist becomes fine artist. It’s just a shame it only lasted 3 days.

For more information about Sickboy head over to his website, and make sure you check out the gallery section as Ian Cox has done a much better job, that I have, of taking photos of each of the pieces from the show.

Photos by Shower.

Sickboy’s Heaven & Earth

Best known for his iconic red and yellow ‘Temples’ sprayed onto walls and wheelie bins worldwide, Sickboy returns this Thursday (November 3rd) with only his second major London solo show. Personally I’m quite suprised it is only his second!

Inspired by semiotics and symbolism, Renaissance paintings and the surreal landscape workings of artists like Hieronymus Bosch, this new body of work promises to demonstrate “a deeper development of the artist’s visual vocabulary.”

A celebration of earthly sins and heavenly fantasies, the show is to be comprised of four major major installations, including a walk-in confessional booth and an additional exhibit of confessions from members of the public anonymously revealed before the show.

But for me I am most looking forward to seeing Sickboy collaborating with a who’s who of eminent artists on a third element; D*Face, Eine, Anthony Lister, Paul Insect, Vhils, Conor Harrington, Xenz, Word to Mother, Will Barras, Eelus, Mudwig and Hush.

With the final surprise installation to be unveiled on the opening night, this show sounds like one not to miss. But be quick as it only lasts 3 days, located at Dray Walk, 91 Brick Lane, and ends on Sunday 6th November!

For a bit more info about the show and for those of you who would like to know more about Sickboy then I recommend 3 interviews he has recently completed with Londonist, The Playground and Zeitgeist Magazine.

Video courtesy of Sickboy. Photos by Viktor Vauthier.