Category: interviews

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.

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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.

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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

Collaboration

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!

RSVP for FREE TICKETS


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!


Ellie Pennick – Episode 14 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

Ellie Pennick – Episode 13 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

Ellie Pennick

Ellie Pennick is the founder of Guts Gallery, who aim to provide financial support and exhibition opportunities for artists less platformed within today’s contemporary art scene. Their desire is to facilitate space and exposure for BAME artists, female artists, working-class artists, queer artists, and artists outside of London (bridging the North/South divide). She joins us for this episode of the Delphian Podcast as we talk about the varying landscape of curation and artist opportunities as well as our collaborative exhibition ‘Delphian x Guts’.

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

Join us for our panel discussion which features Ellie TOMORROW – register for free tickets HERE

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Rachel Mccully – Episode 13 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

Rachel Mccully – Episode 12 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

Rachel Mccully

Whilst Australian artist Rachael McCully was in London she joined us on the Delphian Podcast to talk about her process, taking inspiration from everyday objects, and juggling a home life with producing work. We also talk about the subject of using art as a form of therapy and her experiences with this. Rachael’s abstract works combine bold and muted colours to create perfectly balanced, harmonious compositions which are calm and serene – an antidote to our often hectic lives.

 

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

 

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


We asked 40 artists what is the one book they wish everyone would read, here are their answers…

Paul Weiner (@POWeiner) – The book that I’m writing and releasing in about twenty years. Keep your eyes peeled, friends.

Charley Peters (@CharleyPeters) – ‘A Room of One’s Own’ by Virginia Woolf. It shows really well how artists need space and time to be creative – because only once we have that we can discover the truths in ourselves and what that means for our work.

Remi Rough (@RemiRough) – The Hagakure

Jonny Green (@JonnyGreenArt) – The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhem Reich. Written in 1933. Happening in a country near you right now. The politics of the sexually repressed.

Richard Stone (@Artist_Stone) – The Last Wave by Gillian Best, its a great book, a love story to the sea and ahem, it was inspired by a painting of mine of the same name.

Kevin Perkins (@Kevin_Perkins_) – In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan

Sally Bourke (@Justondark) – The god of small things.

Lee Johnson (@LeeJohnson.eu) – Knut Hamsun’s Hunger

Jenny Brosinski (@Jenny_Brosisnski) – Le petit prince

Andy Dixon (@Andy.Dxn) – Balzac’s Lost Illusions.

Klone Yourself (@KloneYourself) – 100 years of solitude.

Daisy Parris (@DaisyParris) – Nasty Women – a collection of essays and accounts on what it is to be a woman in the 21st century

Jake Chapman (@JakeChapmaniac) – Accursed Share.

Tom Anholt (@TomAnholt) – The Hypnotist, Laurence Anholt

Spencer Shakespeare (@SpencerShakespeare) -The book of John.

Hayden Kays (@HaydenKays) – ‘Happy’ by Derren Brown. It’s witty, informative and hugely rewarding. I’d go so far as to say, a life changing read.

Andrew Salgado (@Andrew.Salgado.Art) – Susan Orlean’s ‘The Orchid Thief’ is about obsession, and its non-fiction, and its brilliant. thats my first pick. a much more obvious choice for artists would be Art/work by Heather Bhandari as its like, ‘everything you need to know yesterday about an art career’.

Benjamin Murphy (@BenjaminMurphy_) – In Search Of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. He understood the human condition better than anyone else, and most of what you could ever want to learn about life is contained within ISOLT.

Richie Culver (@RichieCulver) – Floyd Mayweather’s autobiography.

Jordy Kerwick (@JordyKerwick) – The Rum Diary – Hunter S Thompson

Danny Romeril (@D_Romeril) – JG Ballard; Cocaine Nights, Crash and Empire of the Sun

Florence Hutchings (@FlorenceBH) – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Soumya Netrabile (@Netrabile) – I think Interviews with Francis Bacon by David Sylvester is essential for every artist. Bacon deftly elucidates some of the important nuances of the art making process in response to Sylvester’s brilliant questions.

Luke Hannam (@LukeHannamPaintings) – Matisse -The Life of a Master by Hilary Spurling

Hedley Roberts (@HedleyRoberts) – One book? Phew. That’s tough. Either Brave New World by Huxley, or Narcissus and Goldmund by Hesse.

Matthew Allen (@Matthew__Allen) – I would recomend everyone to read the poetics of space, by Gaston Bachelard. Its a beautiful read and lead me to a deeper appreciation for the everyday spaces that I move through and dwell in.

Nick JS Thompson (@nickjsthompson) – The very hungry caterpillar.

Neva Hosking (@NevaHosking) – I reckon To kill a Mockingbird is always required reading.

Justin Long (@_JustinLong) – #wherethewildthingsare

Erin Lawlor (@TheErinLawlor) – Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut.

Justin Lee Williams (@ArtJLW) – To many to mention, but I would start with all the major religious books, I’m not religious but it does give a understanding to why humanity is so fantastic and fucked at the same time

Wingshan Smith (@wingshansmith) – Everyone should read what they want.

Fiona Grady (@Fiona_Grady) – “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – I think the title is pretty self explanatory. The aim of the essay is to remove the negative associations of the word feminism and embrace the idea of believing in equal rights.

Obit (@LazyObit) – Mr Bump by Roger Hargreaves. No matter how many knocks you take and how shit you are at life in general you’ll eventually find something that is perfect for you if you stay positive.

Anthony Cudahy (@AnthonyCudahy) – Paradise – Toni Morrison

Johnny Thornton (@_JohnnyThornton) – Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard. It really opened me up to a lot of interesting ideas when I was a bit younger and some of those ideas still resonate with me today

Magnus Gjoen (@MagnusGjoen) – The Prince by Machiavelli.

Jesse Draxler (@JesseDraxler) – Freedom From Anger – a book I lend ppl, who then want to keep it. I’m on my sixth copy.

Martin Lukac (@Martin.Lukac) – Kamasutra

Mevlana Lipp (@Mevlana_Lipp) – “The color of magic“ by Terry Pratchett.


Charlie Mills – Episode 12 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

Charlie Mills – Episode 12 of the Delphian Podcast is now live!

Charlie mills

Charlie Mills is this episode’s guest for the Delphian Podcast. He is one third of the curatorial group Collective Ending as well as working for Bold Tendencies and Hannah Barry Gallery in South East London. In this episode we talk about Charlie’s numerous projects, past and future, as well as the changing role of the gallery in the current digital era and the difficulties and challenges of site specific works.

 

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

 

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