09 Apr Monopol Art Interview
Interview with Sam Peacock: Conversation between Pack of Patches Gallery and Sam Peacock, January 2016.
Coming to Pack of Patches gallery in Jena this spring is London based artist, Sam Peacock. Peacock introduces elements of mysticism, caution and the raging intensity of the inferno within. Seemingly, Peacock’s intention is to create work which challenges the concept of regeneration, urbanisation and the procurement of energy. We caught up with Sam on his visit in preparation for this solo show to discuss the process involved in creating his work. Peacock has so far had successful solo shows in both London, Sydney and now Germany.
Peacock has shown work in Berlin previously and taken part in the Affordable Art Fair in Hamburg, something in which Peacock enjoyed a certain success. He began his painting career alongside teaching art after graduating from Coventry University in 1998. He was also arts director for the Stratford Fringe Festival. Peacocks work focuses around combining steel sheets with organic materials such as coffee, sugar and liquorice whilst altering surfaces of the applied paint with an array of heat from various sources.
Hello Sam, how are preparations for the show going?
The show itself will include work directly from the “Province” Collection. Province bases itself around Sussex towns such as Hastings, Brighton and Bexhill. It’s a visual map of the area taken from an artist’s perspective whilst spending time walking on forgotten paths around the area during the summer of 2015. The work has been built using a model of site visits and sketches of the location, then taken back to the studio to be put into practice. The south of England is a stunning place with towns and town names that have stood the test of time since before the Norman invasion in 1066. It is steeped in Celtic and Saxon history and some of the fields that you see are still the same fields that were worked and ploughed by our forefathers thousands of years previously. In essence, as our cultures were once the same, I wanted to bring this to Germany.
Your last solo show was based on Fracking (Hydraulic Fracturing). How did that go?
My sole aim was to highlight what was happening inside the industry. There was so much coverage on the news both locally and nationally regarding Hydraulic Fracturing, commonly known as fracking, and I had become concerned that it was being played out as being a safe and affordable way of procuring energy, so as a painter I wanted to meet the challenge and inform others through the mode of art to the real environmental dangers of this. Local bloggers and internet forums picked up on what I was doing and covered the show. Looking back on it, maybe we went overboard on the political side. Members of Parliament were asking me if they could use some of the work on their own personal websites, The Wall Street Journal ran a story on me during the show. It had become a huge event.
Do you see your work as abstract work, or is it rooted in the landscape? I can see connections to both.
My work has developed into a more abstracted version of what I had originally set out to achieve maybe 5 years ago. The connections to the landscape come in the form of the burned path of industry which cuts a swathe through the centre of the work. Sugar and coffee is intentionally used as it was such an important part in England’s role in its own industrialisation, the line in many way resembles this path in which trade has been shipped from port to city over the years. Underneath the earth lies this red demonic beast becoming angrier at how we are becoming as a nation. The abstraction begins at this point for me. The top half of the painting has always represented regeneration. Lots of layers of materials scraped away to reveal a new playing field to work with.
From what I have seen of your work, it includes lots of variations on the colour red, is there a reason for this?
There has always been an element of mysticism in the work. This is due to an interest in how the landscape has been shaped by ideologies over the years. Either redevelopment of cities or expansion within roads and rail networks. I focused on the roads which lead to London from the ports and towns surrounding the Sussex coastline for the “Ironsea” collection. The red has signified a beast which swells and creates mayhem underneath the earth and tears into the landscape in volcanic fashion when over disturbed. Red has so many connotations and links to it, it was a colour in which I wanted to build a base of work around.
Did growing up in the midlands play an important role in the development of your artwork?
Where I was born, Hillmorton, Rugby, was looked over by a set of pylon masts which connected the nearby transmitter to submarines in the sea. At night, the masts lit up. On journeys home in the dark. You always knew you were approaching Rugby and home was near as there was stacks of lights in the dark. At Art College we used to go and draw abstracts of the area in charcoal of these steel uprights, which may have been the earliest incarnation of me as an abstract painter. Living in the shadow of the cold war through the 80’s fearing a nuclear war, knowing that Rugby was amongst the first places to be targeted if war ever took place. Art was a natural escape from the mundane existence in Rugby. Art College was a place you could go and just explore and create.
In previous interviews, you have described in detail how much you put into getting the colour right before you treat it with heat. Is there a colour which you traditionally struggle with?
Being very much process driven as a painter, layering the colours up so when manipulated by heat they can peel back and eventually reveal previous incarnations of pattern below the surface. The main colours in which I have never been comfortable in getting as I want represented is blue. Blue has had to evolve, pretty much as I have within the focus of the work. As all the colours are mixed and layered previously before heating, blue is the one colour in which without a hint of yellow never seems to look right.
What are your views on the world of art and the gallery scene in London?
London is a very much fragmented art scene when you look away from the big gallery shows at some of the top institutions. I can only really speak from my world, but I am represented by 2 galleries over here. One who I would exhibit regularly with, and another one who I do shows and interior design projects in Germany with. Both galleries take me to Art Fairs in both London and Germany. Social media plays a massive part in artists becoming more recognised nowadays and a lot of galleries have shifted to online spaces and focusing on pop up shows as the rents of space in London are sky high, not only for galleries who are just starting out, but for the more established galleries. Speaking regularly to a variety of galleries, you get the feel for the pressure that they are under to sell a quantity of work each month whilst increasing the client lists. Appearing at pop up fairs within the financial districts is one way of achieving this, but also doing the Affordable Art Fairs in London not only boosts sales, but attracts a variety of clients to your business also. So many artists also take on the Do It Yourself attitude in London which is also a good thing as it gives more control to the individual. My last solo show was near the Barbican at the Curious Duke in London, March 2015 and the show was based on what the effects of Hydraulic Fracturing would have on the environment. The biggest challenge for a solo show is to get as much press and PR writing about your show in the run up to the opening, and getting as many people from the client list through the door on the opening night. It’s a very much commercial event blended with an aesthetic project in which the gallery and myself truly believe in.
Would you collaborate with an artist on a project in the future?
I am at present working on several projects with artists where we are collaborating on a series of ideas. One of the projects, is going to be based around sound and that is with another London based artist. The plan being however to take the project right across Britain. This is something I am in the process of organising as we speak. It’s a collaboration of digital sound and that of a stationary object. The objective being to do something more challenging away from the commercial side to the art world. The main challenge being getting the right funding to make the project work and the correct exposure for this.