Their practice manifests in a number of different ways with contrasting themes: from paying homage to the costumes of The Prince of Pop, Michael Jackson to creating a number of bespoke cabinets containing detritus and ephemera collected over a lifetime. We caught up with the pair to find out more about what they do and their past.
Who exactly are PatnDon?
P: PatnDon are Patricia and Donald. The ‘n’ represents the way in which we pronounce ‘and’.
D: We like to think that it’s Yorkshire dialect but really it’s just slovenly and common and can’t really be attributed towards slang.
How would you describe your work?
P: We have, with a varying degrees of success, incorporated painting, sculpture, screen printing, text video, utter nonsense and ‘cheap stand up’ in our exploration and yearning for Artistic endeavour.
D: I suppose that it is quite typical to describe our work as autobiographical, but it is the most appropriate term for it. But then I suppose that all artist’s work can’t be anything other than autobiographical!
P: We believe that our work carriers comprehensive pretensions, but we are just as satisfied if our work merely makes the viewer smile.
What would you say are the benefits of working as part of an artistic duo?
P: To a lesser or greater extent everyone strives to make their mark on this world. We just find that by working as a collaborative duo lessens the burden.
D: Our styles certainly complement each other.
P: I tend to paint things.
D: And I tend to build stuff.
What is the story behind your Michael Jackson inspired series of images?
P: For quite a while we had yearned to produce a series of abstract paintings. We had devised various formulas to create colourful compositions but everything that we tried seemed too forced, predictable and tiresome. We were beginning to get disillusioned. And then Michael Jackson died and we were suddenly inundated with images in newspapers and magazines of the ‘King of Pop’ and his rather questionable fashion. We suddenly had our source material.
D: The vast majority of the pieces featured glittered and highly glazed elements to represent the glitz and glamour of the man. Out of respect and necessity we set about producing 100 paintings based on the diverse costumes that Michael Jackson once wore. The series included his significant pieces as well as some of his other less obvious creations.
Do you listen to anything in particular whilst working?
P: We gravitate towards music that has a story. In the sense that it can be categorised into a beginning, middle and end. Music that allows you to embark on a journey. A climax and an anti-climax. An experience. Songs that have layers. We are not loyal to any one specific style. We think that Hip-Hop has a lot of merit. How sampling is a marriage of styles. A homage.
D: The work that we are producing at the time has a direct correlation with thetype of music that we favour. It seems to be a rather unconscious decision.Ironically, when we spent almost a year creating the Michael Jackson paintings we couldn’t bare to listen to even one of his songs. It would have been overwhelming. Pink Floyd are wonderful. Trent Reznor is a genius. Tom Waits and Nick Cave are incredible storytellers.
Where did you both grow up?
P: We grew up in Goole, East Yorkshire. The town is significant for previously having the honour of being Europe’s largest exporter of wood. And of course it’s iconic water towers that closely resemble Salt and Pepper pots
D: The town is now inundated with supermarkets and charity shops.
Where did you train? What did training teach you?
P: We completed our Foundation course at Selby College. It was an intense and a very humbling experience. It was the first time that we were amongst people who had willingly chosen to be students. We learnt so much.
D: Our Tutors at Leeds University were a revelation. They wouldn’t allow you to be dismissive of anything. Everything could be justified and rationalised. They really steered our practise in a very conceptual direction. Our final piece was to produce a manual, which the reader, our subject, was invited to use as a guide to realise our work for us. To realise language in a physical form. To expose and exploit assumptions. It was incredibly well received.
What would you say are the main themes you pursue?
P: Nothing is particularly off limits. And we think that this is true with the majority of Artists. We all seem to pursue and explore the same main themes.Love, Life and Death are obvious. We do feel that humour is quite understated and generally overlooked in Art. But yet, consider the premise of a joke with most of the Art that you observe and you’ll soon happen upon a punchline. Albeit, it a dark humour in many cases.
D: We certainly have a fondness for language and how language can be explored.Especially in the way we use everyday expressions. We all use expressions with little or no real consideration but if you were to interpret them literally you would conjure up some wonderful imagery.
Which of your works are you most proud of?
P: That’s like being asked to choose your favourite Child! We are proud of how all of our ‘projects’ have turned out. We are particularly fond of our on-going Collection Box series. This is by far our rawest and most honest creation. We make bespoke display cabinets and fill them to capacity with items that we have acquired throughout our life’s. They were initially inspired by disappointingMuseum displays and over cluttered charity shop windows.
D: When you begin to consider the designers involved in each item, or the individuals involved in the packaging of said items, or the amount of people involved in the distribution of each item then it becomes an incredibly considered project. There are arguably thousands of people indirectly involved in the manufacture of the Collection Box series.
What’s the biggest myth about artists?
P: I can recall with anger and frustration the time when a relative asked what I was studying at University. After my response he proceeded to ask if the windows were clean.
D: Even though this was a witty retort, the pre-conception that Artists don’t do a lot with their day is incredibly annoying. Being an Artist is not a 9-5. And there is certainly no such thing as an overnight success. You can trace any Artists success back by years.
What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
P: If in doubt, make it big. Make lots of them. And give it a fancy name.
D: That, the cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the dogs mat is!
What is the greatest threat to art today?
PnD: Damien Hirst.
P:- IIya & Emilia Kabakov, Fischli & Weiss, Martin Creed, Angus Fairhurst.
D: We admire Artists that just seem to do what they want. Individuals who appear carefree and uninhibited in the type of Art that they produce and don’t particularly conform to any assumed type.
What work of art would you most like to own?
P: A Thousand Years by Damien Hirst. It’s the perfect metaphor for life. I like the imagery of it being the focal point in the lounge and everyone having to live their lives around it.
D: Autumn Rhythm (number 30) by Jackson Pollock. I believe that it is without question the most striking image that I have ever experienced. It’s a knockout. It is arguably the most energetic ‘still’ painting out there. A juxtaposition. It’s passive aggressive. It’s also a reminder that an Artist with a relatively simple, yet original idea can completely change the perception of Art.
Finally please describe for us an average day in the life of PatnDon…
P: We’ll discuss, deliberate and disagree before finally settling on something to do. There is a lot of dialogue between us because we made the bold decision at University to discard our sketchbooks in favour of the actual realisation of work.
D: Having no tangible plan leads to all many of nonsense. It’s easy to start something. But it’s hard to go on. And it’s very difficult to finish. We hate endings.That is a start!