Gavin Mitchell Lockdown Special

Multi-Media artist Gavin Mitchell answers our lockdown special:

    Right now I am... excited to be back in my studio after lockdown.. working on getting my mojo back

    At the moment I am working on… taking off the dustsheets and re-promoting my Solo Show which started one-week before lockdown. I have taken the opportunity to shoot video & photographs of the show to create in a virtual tour/gallery.  I think this is becoming the norm for promoting /showing work alongside physical shows & art fairs.

    Over the course of lockdown, I have challenged myself to… tidy up my digital artwork files on my hard drive so that I have a comprehensive catalogue of my finished work.. I have had to work through 3TB of what is effectively a digital scrapbook.. I am still only half way through!

    My biggest mistake this year was… laughing at a friend who bought 100 facemasks at the beginning of March.

    Recently I’ve been inspired by the work of… Larry Poons.. He featured in an excellent documentary called ‘The Price Of Everything’ It examines how the work of some artists draws huge multimillion-dollar bids at auction houses while the work of others, for no easily graspable reason, goes barely noticed..  Didn’t really know Poons work before but firstly loved his work/process and secondly his attitude. It provided a stark contrast to the commoditised art world exemplified by Jeff Koons.

    When I’m stuck for ideas I usually… I’m genuinely never stuck for ideas.. I always have fresh ideas on the back burner and as a mixed media artist actively look to collaborate with other artists working with other mediums. As well as my own work I’m currently looking at projects with a ceramicist, furniture maker and projection-mapping artist.

    I have always been fascinated by artists who… challenge boundaries and work to their own narrative.

    Lockdown inspires me to try a new way of working because… by making my art more accessible I have created new interest in my work and from a larger group of art collector.

    The biggest thing I have learnt in lockdown is... For many people art continues to be a panacea to all the worries and uncertainties we are facing.

    When I was a child I dreamt of… being a brain surgeon called Fred  (I really didn’t like my real name)

    My first job was… a paper round while dreaming of becoming Fred the brain surgeon

    My first big love was… My Teddy Bear obviously!?

    The first piece of art I ever bought was… To be honest over the years I have been lucky enough to collect so many great pieces of art through ‘swaps’ with other artists I rarely look to buy work outside that world.  My first big investment though was two early art deco tapestries first shown in the Paris Expo of 1910.. I paid for them with a tax rebate, which felt like a windfall at the time. Sadly I’m not that keen them anymore!

    My favourite record cover of all time is… The Clash by The Clash.. The music, energy and anti-establishment feeling of Punk Rock was a game changer for disaffected youth.

    The best film I have seen in lockdown is… Toss up between; 1.Lagaan, an epic Indian Bollywood movie set during the British Raj and about discord between rural Hindu famers and arrogant colonialists. 2. Bait, a low budget black and white movie about tensions between local fisherman and wealthy holiday homeowners in a small Cornish fishing village.

    Coincidentally both films centre on the same theme of privilege & struggle.One film is extravagant and sumptuous, the other simplistic and claustrophobic. Both are utterly compelling to watch.

    If I could see any musician (past or present) performing live, it would be... Two acts I that haven’t seen, Sufjan Stevens and Thievery Corporation and two that I have but would watch again and again Radiohead and The Clash

    My Avatar would be… Pigpen from cartoon strip Peanuts. He refers to the cloud that surrounds him as "the dust of ancient civilizations"

    My guilty pleasure over lockdown has been… More expensive Wine.. saved a fortune on not eating out!!

    Over lockdown I’ve found myself cooking… Anything with the fresh ingredients I find in our local high street shops and delis. I’ve realised how lazy I had become relying on large supermarkets as a one stop shop. One of the positives about lock down has been finding out about so many small shops that have continued to provide great quality produce throughout lockdown which is more than can be said for the supermarkets. I do believe that there will be a re-birth of small local businesses in the high street in the future.

    My lockdown routine includes… The only routine I have is to grind my coffee beans in the morning and make freshly brewed coffee. Nothing will happen until that first slurp!

    I am currently reading… listening to Audio Books now rather than read as it works so well for me in my studio when I’m working. It also allows you to pick heavy hitting classics which you don’t normally don’t have time to read. I recently listened to The Count Of Monte Cristo, which was 53 hours long.. I was captivated by the richness and ambition of the story.

    I am currently listening to a contemporary novel called American Dirt a novel about people caught up in Drug Cartels and illegal crossing of US/Mexican border. Really fascinating insight into a very human story

    My grandfather always said… “You are my little Spartan Boy”

    If I was offered a billion dollars on the condition I had to give it all away, I would… The benevolent me would try to end homelessness in London as far as a billion dollars would take me.

    The altruistic me would spend the money on converting buildings into free/subsidised art studios/communities especially for young/emerging talent

    The hedonistic me would support music venues as long as they booked Sufjan Stevens, Thievery Corporation and Radiohead at least once each year

    Post-lockdown, the first place I plan to travel to is... France. I spend a lot of time in the South West and the Pyrenees. It’s calling me..

    If air travel was no longer possible I would… get a new paint job for my vintage VW camper van (with spare change from the Billion Dollars) and set off into the sunset. I have a plan one day to head off into Europe and choose which direction I go each day by spinning the wheel of fortune randomly selecting a point on the compass

    If I were a superhero I would be… Anti accident-prone man. It seems to take a super human effort for me to avoid injury on a daily basis

    And my costume would be… A super thin Kevlar body suit capable of resisting injury from all the tools I use in my studio and other objects that seem intent on damaging me

    If my art could work for a worthy cause, I would dedicate it to… art in general as a powerful force for good. I have worked with a number of charities using art as a tool to engage people in need of confidence, in need of reflection, in need of a voice. Working with people through visual arts allows them to express themselves without judgment or expectation.

    I imagine the post-lockdown future to be... Many people including myself have admitted to enjoying the results of a slower more considered way of life during lockdown. The reduction in pollution due to less human traffic has had a positive impact in the UK and the rest of the world. Dolphins swimming in the Venice Canals for example. We could learn so many lessons but I fear we will selfishly rush back to into the old norm as quickly as we adapted so well to the new norm..

    If I could live in any one period of time, I would choose… London in the 60’s.. When the youth cut away from parental apron strings.. A cultural revolution, fun loving hedonism, great music, great fashion great art, great time 

    The most valuable lesson I have learned through lockdown is… Humanity has been put on the naughty step. I believe that this terrible virus is nature’s way of saying you have been warned!

    If I were to get a tattoo to remember my lockdown experience, it would be…a cooking pan and wooden spoon. Made a big noise rattling this every Thursday evening at 8pm along with the rest of the UK to thank the amazing people working in our NHS who worked so hard and sacrificed so much.

    Now is the time for artists to go digital because… promoting and creating awareness around your work on a digital platform is a powerful egalitarian tool that should be embraced. No excuse anymore for hiding away in your freezing studio feeling sorry for yourself and waiting for the fickle finger of fate to discover you..

    I do think artists have a responsibility to push the boundaries and… to create work that evolves, challenges, excites and gets people to pause a while.

    I don’t think artists are best placed to understand the future before everyone else because... artists are not soothsayers, however they can be the expression of the soul in the future

    They say fact is stranger than fiction because take a look at the world right now!

    If I wasn’t so busy making art I would like to… breed goats and make goats cheese in South West France

    In the next year I hope to achieve… sales, creating new work and buying some goats.

    Visit Gavin's Gallery to see his beautiful work...