This is a conversation between myself, Tate Curator Linsey Young and KMA artist Laura Aldridge. Lindsey got in touch and was very interested to hear more about KMAdotcom and my work.
We met over Zoom during lockdown and talked about my ideas – understanding them a bit more. It was great meeting Lindsey; I enjoy talking to new people and I hope to visit Linsey in person – and take up her offer of a tour of the Tate, and find out what she’s doing.
MS – it’s good speaking to different people, I like finding out about what people do, finding out what they are about and I like finding out what people think of my work.
LY – I wanted to ask, how long have you been making artwork? How did you come to it?
MS – Yeah, I make work everyday but it’s different now (because of lockdown) – I’m working in different ways and thinking about things differently … my mum always encouraged me, but when I moved to Scotland she asked if I wanted to try it out…I’m from Morecambe – its by the seaside. I moved up here a while ago.
LY – Nice! Are you near the sea now where you are?
MS – No, not really (laughs)
LY – But you can see outside?
MS – Yes, I can see into our garden, and see all the birds out there. I like looking outside at everything going past.
LY – That’s brilliant. So it was your mum’s idea? So she knew that you had lots of creative ideas and the workshop would be a good place to get them out? Laura’s been telling me all about what you guys do in the workshop, and I think it looks amazing…
MS – Well, yes! It’s great to be in a creative environment and meet lots of different people understanding what everyone is about. We start the day by arriving at the studio – we all come in and sit down and have tea, we catch up on what we have been doing.
LS – I know you work collaboratively too, you work with some of your friends and make things, do you enjoy that way of working?
MS – Yeah sometimes, yeah. I like going out to different places – understanding what’s going on and having my own free space.
LY – And what materials do you like to use when you’re working?
MS – I like drawing and making pictures and things like that. I draw words. When I draw it helps me to think about things – I watch TV, I watch the news – I can hear people saying things. I take it all in and then I can draw a picture out of it.
LY – So you’re like a filter for information.
MS – Yeah, I use words to help people think about what’s happening, to tell them about things.
LY – What do you enjoy about the studio environment?
MS – I like the colour of it, I like putting that colour in my work. I want the workshop to open again. When I get to the studio, I like to get used to it first – being there, then I decide what I’m doing, and then we’ll get to it. I like it because you can see for yourself what you feel like.
LA – I think that’s typical for how you like to work isn’t it? It’s very much about what you’re in the mood for that day. We sometimes try and steer you away from drawing, to get you to try other things, but you always come back to drawing don’t you?
MS – Yeah – I just DO IT!
LY – Do you want to tell me a little bit about why do you find drawing such an appealing way to realise your ideas?
MS – I love doing bubble writing…
LS – I saw that like in comic books. That’s something you’ve done for a long time using that form?
MS – Yeah, like in comic books I love watching TV. I can get my inspiration from there, the news, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks…
LA – Hollyoaks?!
MS – (laughing) Yes!
LA – I did not know that! you’re a whole different person to me now. I didn’t know you watched Hollyoaks!
MS – (laughing) Well I’m from Liverpool! So it’s true!
LA – Ok, we’ll let you off!
LY – That’s interesting that you really like the news because some of your larger works, they look like placards? You know the things people hold up on a protest, when you’ve got a big slogan – they look like that to me. It feels like your work very political. You’re talking about what is happening now.
MS – Yeah, I think so. I also love it when when people do story books – like the ‘Famous Five’.
LY – Oh I love the Famous Five. I love it. And they’d all go and find a cave and roll around and have a picnic. Brilliant. And the statements you write seem really positive. They seem like they’re really looking at the world and thinking about what might make it better.
MS – Yeah. It’s about something that’s important to me and to the people, to look forward – people can look at my words and then to say them out loud and also say what they like about it
LY – And it’s important isn’t it to have a space where you can talk to other people – it’s not easy to understand- where you can just say something and it’s clear! and someone else can feel what you’re feeling!
MS – Yeah, so they know what they’re doing
LY – I mean, who knows what they’re doing?
LA – Not me!
LY – Do you know what you’re doing?
MS – (laughs) Sometimes! I like doing big words, and I like to make colourful pictures – so people pay attention – so they can understand my message and see the words!
LY – That’s a very good way of working – to be very kind of….clear , direct….
MS – Yeah. It makes them understand a bit more as well. I do different things. I have been writing poems lately. I make drawings too, but mostly I am thinking. I finish things off if they’re not finished. I make things bigger in the studio as I have a drawer to keep my drawings in.
LA – You work quite quickly I think. So typically in a workshop you get about five drawings done in the session, but it really depends on the message you have chosen and how you decide to convey it.
LY – And is every day in the studio different? Do you just see how you feel on that day or do you go in with ideas or you see what’s around?
MS – Well, I see what is around first, and if I want to draw it, then I will. I will say if I want to go slowly, slowly, yes.
LA – I’m interested about where your ideas come from – so often when I watch you work, you don’t talk about it or write things down, you just suddenly… out of nowhere…out comes your idea. Where do you get your from ideas Marc?
MS – Things just go into my head, I get my ideas everywhere really – it’s just what I see, it goes into my head and then it comes out really… it’s like a flower or something.
LY – A flower?
MS – Yeah. Growing flowers and giving them to people. I think when I see people, when I see people are sad, what I want to do is help them.
LY – That’s a very good reason to make artwork.
MS – Hmm, definitely.
LA – Lauren and I have been sending you, what we call ‘INSPOOO docs’, that features particular artists or artworks we think you might enjoy – Do you remember the one about Andrea Bowers?
MS – Yeah, she makes work about what’s going on.
LA – Exactly, we thought of her in relation to your work because of the way she fuses activism with making artwork. My favourite work you’ve made so far in this lockdown was your response to the works she makes of protestors holding placards – you drew someone holding one of your works, what did it say?
MS – Was it about the government? It said ‘LET THE WORLD GO ROUND– TELL PEOPLE ANSWERS.’
LY – And you made a lot of work about Brexit…Do you like Boris Johnson, Marc?
MS – He can’t think about what he doing, he can’t remind himself what he is doing, he just forgets, he’s not very good. He has messed it all up – that’s why I think they are getting slow with it – he can’t work it out.
LY – I’d imagine from what you’re saying and looking at your work, It’s because you like the idea of everyone being friends and working together?
MS – Yes, I don’t really think they (the government) understand what they are doing.
LY – No, I think you’re absolutely right
LA – It’s all got muddled up, hasn’t it.
MS – I think so. And now with what’s happening it’s almost been forgotten about.
LA – I sent Lindsay an image of your ‘GO DOWN BREXIT’ sign that you made for our studio we had on the door for everyone to see!
LY – Boo! (laughs) So you’re very much a political artist?
MS – Oh yes, as long as I know what it means, what it’s worth for me.
LY – Well, you know what you mean, you don’t necessarily need to know what everyone else means.
MS – Yeah, exactly. I know what I mean, that’s the most important thing.
LY – Have you ever tried to make a sculpture or use materials to make things?
MS – I make sculptures and things…
LA – That’s in ‘The Makers’ workshop – Marc is such a social butterfly. He’s part of KMA, and he’s also part of something that’s called ‘The Makers’ and there’s a group of them and they all do different projects together, but you’ll do like a dance workshop, a sculpture making workshop – all different approaches. But you are a very reluctant sculptor when we work together! You always say to me…
MS – (laughing) ‘I cant be bothered!’
LA – (laughing)
LY – that’s what I’m like! I made a cup out of clay with Laura the other day and she was like ‘Oh, now you just need to finish it and polish it up’ I was like ‘I’m bored already’…
MS – I like things to be quick. I like to get down to what I’m doing.
LY – You don’t need to mess around. You can just get it out!
MS – Yeah!
LY – Impatient artists! That’s what I like.
LA – I like to call it a sense of urgency…
MS – That’s why paper is good, I can work quickly and keep all my ideas.
LA – Yeah, it would be nice to make a book or a website of your work. It works to see a group of them, doesn’t it? Like they gain a sort of power the more you see. In the past you’ve told me you make work to make people feel better, but also to make yourself feel better? I think this is a kind and generous act. What do you think about the people that read your works?
MS – I just hope that people will get to understand the work and what’s going on.
LY – And understand the different way that people live their lives maybe?
MS – Yeah, and then they can get used to doing it, used to being open.
LS – And so you live in a big house with lots of friends?
MS – Yeah, I live in the house with two other people, but we have support staff also that work for us 24 hours a day.
LY – So do you work with other people there? Are you inspiring everyone there to make artworks as well?
MS – Well, we can do what we want really, because it’s our own house.
LA – Gerald who lives with you started coming in about a year ago because he saw what you got out of the workshop – and now Frenchie has moved in and she will be joining us.
LS – Well, that’s what I was wondering – if that experience of being in the studio for you has brought more people to making art? And that must be such a lovely thing for you now to live in a house with other options?
MS – If people get to look at the pictures that I do, and they take the pictures…and to understand them.
LY – Yeah!