Category: interviews

Sensitivity to Life – Jean Nagai & Benjamin Murphy

Jean Nagai
Stars    ink on paper   28cm x 20cm    2005

Benjamin Murphy – First question then: why are you an artist

Jean Nagai – When I was 2years old, I fell from an apt window and died for a few minutes. Somehow being an artist was the next logical step
I had some colorful visions while I was between the two worlds.

BM – Holy shit. So do you remember it?

JN – Yes, I remember it. Not specific shapes colors or shapes, details, memories get more vague over time.

BM – How old were you?

JN – I was 2 yrs old. I also remember there was a figure near me as I floated upwards

BM – Do you ever wonder what you would have become if this never happened?

JN – No, I have not had that thought. I was so young, I wouldn’t know if I would even consider myself conscious at that time.

BM – Or what your artwork would be like has it not happened.

JN – Maybe I would have not taken the path of art? Maybe I would have become a cook, like my parents

BM – If for some reason you couldn’t make art any more, do you think becoming a cook is something that you’d consider?

JN – The possibility of what i would do with my life without art seems quite depressing. I don’t know.

BM – Yeah it’s hard to imagine. So what else do you do besides making art?

JN – Hmmm, these days I’ve been traveling a bit. Just spent a couple months in Thailand, and made a large painting for a solo show. I saw the most incredible show in Tokyo where I saw my friends MSHR open for Incapacitants. Honestly it may have been the best show I’ve ever experienced! The sounds, the energy, I felt so proud to see these old Japanese men create a sense of ecstatic bliss out of what could be described as chaos. I also like going on long hikes.

Jean Nagai
Wildlife Refuge 3   acrylic, sand on canvas  140cm x 274cm    2017

BM – So what art movements or artists are you particularly interested in?

JN – Oh geez, too many to answer… i like art that is hopeful, I like art that is spiritual and I also like when an artist reveals some darkness within us, like Santiago Serra or Bruce Nauman. Georgia O’keeffe is someone I admire greatly.

BM – What do you do when you’re struggling for inspiration?

JN – Oh my. So many things I do to stay inspired. These days it’s running or experiencing art through galleries or talking with other artists. Nature is key for me, and not just mountains but also all the energy that’s just blasting around the city is also nature for me.

BM – What is it that you want your artworks to do?

JN – Maybe what I wanna say with my work is to project a kind of sensitivity to life. Not necessarily fragility although life can be. I think it’s important for people to show that feeling, in art and in the real world.

BM – So one last question: fantasy dinner party, which people living or dead would you invite, you have 6 seats.

JN – Oh geez…your questions fill me with more questions and with endless possibilities…someone from the Denisovan tribe, ghengis khan, nikola Tesla, someone who has worked at area51, Ana mendieta, Jean Michael Basquit

Jean Nagai
Mushroom Head   acrylic, pumice, on canvas  200cm x 150cm  2019

For more conversations

Michael Swaney

Taylor A. White

Richie Culver

For more from Jean Nagai, here is his Instagram

Special edition of the Delphian Podcast – Episode 20 – Questions about the art world you were afraid to ask

special edition
From left to right – Benjamin Murphy, Charley Peters, Jemma Hickman, Nick JS Thompson

In this special edition of the Delphian Podcast we have a recording of a panel discussion that we were invited to lead by Maddie Rose Hills as part of her programme surrounding an exhibition she curated entitled “Where you are not” at Copeland Gallery in Peckham, London.

We chose the subject of “Questions about the art world you were afraid to ask” and invited artist and art writer Charley Peters, and Bo Lee Gallery director Jemma Hickman to join us on the panel to discuss the topic. We talk about the different ways in which to approach galleries, how to make yourself discoverable on social media, the different ways to approach your social media output, and the importance of networking to an artists’ career among many other topics. 

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

Please don’t forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe!

Richie Culver – Episode 19 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

episode 19

London based artist Richie Culver joins us on the Delphian Podcast. He tells us about his background and his very different beginnings working in caravan factories in Hull to his current life as an artist and father.

His work provokes strong reactions with viewers and we talk about this and the impact that this has on his work. We also talk about his new body of work of bold text pieces in which he is trying to move away from the working class tag which has been associated with him and the reasons behind this

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

Please don’t forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe!

More from Richie

Making Bad Decisions

His Website

Aindrea Emelife – Episode 18 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

Andrea emelife

Art critic, curator, art advisor, and presenter Aindrea Emelife joins us on the Delphian Podcast to talk about her route into such a varied career. As well as the aforementioned, she is also one half of Plop Residency and she gives us the low down on the history of the residency who she runs with Oli Epp. Other topics discussed are the role of the critic, how that is changing in the modern era and how it can inform a practice. 

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

Please don’t forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe!

Make the Worst Possible Joke about Yourself – Benjamin Murphy & Michael Swaney

Benjamin Murphy – Why are you an artist?

Michael Swaney – I have no idea. Except that it probably has to do with being raised in a creative atmosphere by my parents who both had hobbies when I was young.

BM – So both of your parents are artists?

MS – Yes. My mum was always the artist figure in my family and I learned a lot from her. But now in hindsight I see that my dad has always been an artistic figure in the family as well. He’s a retired chemical engineer, but is also a HO scale model railroad fanatic since as long as I remember, he can paint backdrops, make trees out of rope and rivers out of resin, make a house or train look dilapidated. He also pretty creative with his gardens anti-deer arrangements, which I often photographed and admired.

BM – Tell me more about these anti-deer arrangements…

MS – The anti-deer arrangements are these piles of organised crossing sticks that didn’t even work. But they look amazing. My dad gets pretty experimental with the ways of keeping animals away from the garden. He’s sprinkled his own hair around the fruit trees. Hung soap off the branches. Etc.

BM – Hahaha does he have any reason to think these things will work or is it all trial and error?

MS – It’s mostly trial and error based off of common knowledge of wilderness in Canada.

BM – Do you think you have a similar approach to art-making?

MS – Definitely. It’s about jumbling around with everything and utilising it all, as well as the scraps. Like a garden.

BM – Why are you trying to say with your works?

MS – I’m not trying to say anything specifically.

MS – I think my attitude and philosophies in life show through in the art, and I hope that when I’m no longer here it will be fairly evident what I was saying.

BM – Do you see a distinction between what is sometimes called “high art” and “low art”, or highbrow and lowbrow.

MS – Well, right now everyone wants to blur the boundaries of high and low. I didn’t necessarily agree with that. Categories are helpful in distinguishing marginal art forms from the academic ones. I am happy that outsider and folk practices are finally being placed in the same museums as artist who have studied, but to me marginal art forms are far more interesting than academic ones and so, should be categorised as such still. Art Brut is virtually impossible to come across any more and therefore it is a rare prestigious category to be part of.

BM – Do you identify with the Art Brut movement?

MS – I identify way more with ways of working in marginal movements, but would never dare placing myself in one. I’ve been thinking what I do is parallel to them. I didn’t go to art school but have been extremely influenced by popular culture in my life, as well as the notion of an audience and a market. Those things disqualify any artist from any outsider category in my opinion.

BM – Do you feel any affinity with Pop or CoBrA?

MS – Cobra for sure. And Dubuffet is a mentor figure to me.

BM – The juxtaposition of such a traditional medium, ie mosaic, with your contemporary subject matter is interesting, what drew you to this medium and what are you able to say with mosaic that you are unable to articulate with other mediums?

MS – I’ve always lived mosaic work primarily through my admiration for Hunderteasser. Then I moved to Barcelona and discovered Gaudi’s work in person. Niki de Saint Phalle too. I feel like it’s a medium that people are ready to see again. A humble artisanal medium that requires sweat and blood, and contrasts our digital obsession. Brings you back down to earth again.

BM – Aside from artists, what would you say informs your work?

MS – Humour. Nature. Love. Stress. Music. Movies. Food. My child. Conversation.

BM – What are hinderances to your practice, and how do you overcome them?

MS – Usually other people’s opinions. I’m way better off working reclusively than knowing what people think and having them see the process. Also not having a big enough studio to work on many disciplines at once.

Yet. That will soon change.

BM – Do either of these things ever force you to work in ways that provide unexpected benefits?

MS – Well, studios that are small can be helpful in not sitting back and looking at the work from a distance for ages and just committing to them being done. Then it’s a surprise seeing it installed.

BM – Yeah that’s true.

MS – As far as opinions, yes it’s beneficial not knowing what others are doing and for them knowing what you’re doing. All artists know that I guess.

BM – Where did the hand motif come from and what is its significance?

MS – My daughter got hooked On these videos, and I got even more hooked.

BM – Nursery rhymes are an interesting topic for art, I’m not sure I’ve seen that before

MS – I can’t think of anything that stands out to me immediately. I’m sure there is. I love the Mike Kelly stuffed-toy sculptures.

BM – What were you making your work about before your daughter was born?

MS – I suppose they were sort of versions of what I used to do as a kid. Side-profile views of rooms with people. Family settings with bedroom details and dinner tables. It wasn’t a conscious decision to do that though, I realised it after the fact.

BM – What annoys you most about the art world?

MS – Artists ?

I’ve been realising I don’t like to have a lot of artist friends.

BM – Haha – what is it about us that annoys you?

MS – We are so ego based. So much social pretension and elitist bullshit.

BM – How do we counter that?

MS – Hang out with non-artists.

BM – Yeah I think that’s important.

MS – Right?

That was also one of Dubuffet’s things. He liked to hang out with bakers and bricklayers etc.

BM – As did Bacon, he hung out with criminals.

Michael swanky

MS – I recently told a young artist friend, you can never be too cocky Because this shit is so unstable.

BM – You think cockiness is necessary to survive?

MS – Also I’ve learned to be more cautious about who I share my ideas with ?

BM – Yeah it’s necessary for sure in some cases. Confidence. But not when it comes to having a new experience with another human being no matter who they are or what they do. If arrogance gets in the way you won’t have a genuine experience

MS – It’s hard to explain. Do you think it’s necessary?

BM – I definitely see what you mean, it’s essential to display confidence in yourself and your work, as if you don’t believe totally in what you’re doing then how can you expect anyone else to.

But it’s hard to not have this confidence spill over into arrogance.

MS – Exactly. But it bugs me when people are arrogant. In general. A sense of humour about oneself is fundamental in my opinion.

You have to be able to make the worst possible joke about yourself.

For more of Benjamin’s conversations:

Trying not to Breathe – Benjamin Murphy and Taylor A White

Rosie Gibbens – Episode 17 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

rosie gibbens


Performance artist Rosie Gibbens joins us for this episode of the Delphian Podcast. Her intense, often very personal performances raise questions of gender, sexuality and domesticity. We talk to her about tropes of performance art, how crowd reaction and participation affects her work as well as the importance of accepting criticism.

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

Please don’t forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe!

Christmas Crossover – Episode 16 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

christmas crossover
L-R Gary Mansfield, Nick Stavri, Elizabeth Power, Benjamin Murphy, Jessie Hilcox, Nick JS Thompson, Rowan Newton


For this special edition of the Delphian Podcast we met up with some of our friends who who also have their own art based podcasts. We had a chat with them over a glass of wine and a mince pie about art, podcasting, and why they got into the business, and each podcast will be releasing this episode on their own channels. Make sure you check out their podcasts as they are all great! They are the Artfully Podcast, Art Proof Podcast, and the Mizog Art Podcast

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

Please don’t forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe!

Trying not to Breathe – Benjamin Murphy and Taylor A White

Trying not to Breathe – A Conversation between Artists Benjamin Murphy and Taylor A White

Taylor White is an artist who’s paintings are a visual record of his violently-unique character. Sitting somewhere in between gestural abstraction and hard-edged formalism (with the odd bit of representation), his works are an overload of perfectly-ordered chaos. His online persona feeds into this entropic aura that surrounds his works, and it is impossible not to see the joy he has both in his work and life. I decided to have a little chat with him about his work, because scrolling through his Instagram was such an entertaining, and inspiring experience, that I couldn’t help but try to find out more.

The statement that he has about his work on his website is a perfect example of what I have tried to elucidate above, and for this reason I have decided to include it verbatim.

My work gives form to fleeting memories and the dormant mania crawling beneath the carpet of the western home. These images recount crisis and triumph, momentum and confinement, lust and low-altitude bombing. Finding stillness in the recording of arguments within the process of painting and drawing, I return to my childhood freezer filled with popsicles and secret passageways.

Taylor a white

Fake Zoo

Benjamin Murphy – Firstly, why are you an artist? Taylor A White – I don’t think I could enjoy my life if I wasn’t making art on a near constant basis. It’s something I seriously have to do to be able to sleep at night. I didn’t get really serious with it until I was 35 (I’m 40 now) and it totally took over my life. It was something that I returned to after spending my 20’s in the military, and it sort of transported me to a place I remember from my childhood. Making art kind of re-wired me after the military, and it seriously changed my worldview and how I viewed myself. BM – Was it that you felt like you needed rewiring post-military service, and it was art that did that job, or was the rewiring an unexpected thing that happened because you’d started painting? TAW – The shift in my thinking (or re-wiring) really happened unexpectedly. I started going to college for Psychology (mainly because I didn’t know what to go to college for, and it sounded responsible, lol) and I eventually took an elective art class which was the intro class you had to take before you could take the other classes. I was immediately hooked, as soon as I smelled the inside of the art department, I knew I’d found the place I was supposed to be. BM – Wow. I actually went to art school because I didn’t know what else to do, so it’s funny that you came to the same destination from the opposite direction.  So do you think that painting is something you could have very easily not discovered? TAW – Oh definitely. I actually almost quit the first painting class because I became so annoyed with my inability to do basic things painting things like creating a gradation between two colors. I was frustrated that it did not have the directness and speed of drawing, I was just pushing this hard to control goop around and it wasn’t satisfying. I had a great painting professor that really encouraged me to just draw with paint, and stop thinking about painting in such a rigid conventional way.
taylor a white

Taylor A White in his studio

BM – Do you think you could still quit now, or has painting become a part of who you are? TAW – Hahahaha no I could never quit, it would be like trying not to breathe. BM – That’s interesting, as you almost never found it. TAW – That’s true. I kinda stumbled into it and it immediately transported me back to my childhood. BM – Do you think you needed that? TAW – No, I didn’t realize I needed it at first, it kinda snuck up on me. Taylor A White BM – What is your work about? TAW – I don’t ever intentionally make work about a specific subject, or try to direct viewers to see it in a certain way. Often I can overhear a segment of a conversation or something like that, and it sort of becomes a point of departure in a painting. I’m always interested in letting the work completely become unhinged from that initial prompt, and I never feel any obligation to circle back and force it to make sense, to resolve it BM – So how does it make you feel when you look at it afterwards, and are there any signifiers within the work that you can identify as being related to certain things? TAW – I generally don’t let a painting survive if it makes sense, I find it boring. Sometimes symbols and shapes that I draw are interpreted as specific signifiers for something, but they’re most often based on my immediate interest in drawing them. Sometimes that can result in something that maybe points to things happening in the subconscious l, but I’m comfortable with letting people interpret it however they’d like. I also had a great teacher that once told me “you’re saying more than you might think”. So I just kept going, firing from instinct and impulse.
Taylor A White

Maybe We Should be Kissing

BM – In general, do you think that the most successful artworks are those that are least didactic? JFK once said something along the lines of “Art is not propaganda, art is truth”, and I think it’s really apt. TAW – I’d say I agree with that. I’m definitely most interested in art that I immediately find confusing. BM – If you had unlimited time, money, space, what would be your dream project? TAW – Hmm, ok here’s one thing I’d do immediately: I’d like to tie or affix Matthew McConaughey to objects and only allow him to repeatedly say “Alright, alright, alright”. Like just imagine him doing that, placed sideways at the bottom of a huge painting. I love it. BM – Haha that is wild. I’m going to end this interview there, because there can be no better way to wrap one of these things up than with that image. So thank you. TAW – Thank you.
Taylor A White

It’s Like You Don’t Even Care About Vitamins

For more interviews For more conversations Michael Swaney Richie Culver

Collaboration in the Art World


Delphian Gallery and Guts Gallery welcome you to join us for a free talk on the 3rd December at 7.30pm. To further pursue the themes of our joint exhibition, we will be discussing notions of collaboration and support within the art world.

Due to social, political, and economic disparity, we have noticed that subsequent divisions have emerged in the art world – people are pitted against each other in competition. We endeavour to work against this system, encouraging discussion of radical new ways in which art practitioners can work together and support each other, breaking down the competitive paradigm. 

Working together, we can collaborate on different ways to create a more inclusive, supportive, and progressive environment for the arts industry – with the potential of a more welcoming space for all. 

We are honoured to present a diverse selection of speakers, including Aindrea Emelife, Martha May Ronson and Delphian and Guts directors Benjamin Murphy, Nick JS Thompson, and Ellie Pennick. The talk and exhibition will be presented at the new creative complex The Factory in Dalston, where we hope to inspire new ideas. 

See you there!


Miranda Forrester – Episode 15 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

episode 15 - Painting by london based artist Miranda Forrester

In episode 15 of the Delphian Podcast we speak to the extremely exciting artist Miranda Forrester who has just completed the Plop Residency and was involved with the BBZ Alternative Graduate Show at Copeland Gallery. We talk about her work, the lack of diversity in art education teaching, and learning to say no to to opportunities that aren’t right for you. 

Listen now on our website HERE, or search DELPHIAN PODCAST in iTunes, Spotify, or Podbean.

Please don’t forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe!