AR: What was the inspiration behind ‘Grate Britain’?
Like many artists in the last year, I expected to be painting like crazy over the whole lockdown period. But instead, I felt totally uninspired, questioning everything I was doing or thinking about and second guessing every idea. I found myself focusing on other things to pull through the first lockdown creating 3D printed PPE Visors for the NHS and Key Workers.
As an artist who draws hugely on social interaction and the immense lack of that as the lockdowns continued, I turned to social media and news, but the more I did, the worse I felt, and it seemed to me everyone else was feeling this. I wanted to find a way to capture this moment in time and sum this feeling up. No matter where I looked or listened it seemed everything was “grating” on us! As with many of my ideas, the moment I have that internal thought, a rush of ideas trigger off each other to form an image almost instantly… Grate Britain!
AR: Do you see this work as a continuation of previous work or a series, or a new departure in your practice?
Much of my work is drawn from the world around me, picking up on social commentary, trending phrases etc and applying them to objects or repurposing objects to convey the idea in an interesting, appealing way. So for me the idea of Grate Britain fitted perfectly into my Pop Art style of work.
AR: What does a typical day look like for you?
My day usually starts with packing up and sending my prints orders out, checking emails etc and getting the admin out the way! If I have a piece I am working on, I will try and do 3 or 4 hours work on it, then have a break and either do some research or work up ideas on the computer or get back into the painting if I am able with the drying times of the oil paint. I am extremely fortunate that I have another side to my work, creating experiential installation art for commercial clients, much of my time is taken up with creating the weird and wonderful that go all over the world. It’s a great way to find new techniques and methods that I can take into my art practice for sculptural and digital pieces. I try to get out for a walk most days or living near the coast, out on the water to paddleboard or sail if the weather allows!
AR: Which artists inspire you, or you admire?
I don’t really have a particular artist that inspires me, I have an obvious love of the original Pop Art genre and all the great artists of that time. Instagram is a great way to see a whole world of different art and be inspired by what people are creating, but find the whole ‘money backed trust fund kids’ along for the attention types very boring! Look at me I’ve just painted a Bugatti Veyron... pfft, so what!?? Ha!
AR: When did you know you wanted to pursue a life in art?
I have always loved drawing and painting from childhood, but I was very lucky when I first started school. It was a small newly built one, they had great art teachers that allowed us to experiment with all sorts of mediums. But the caretaker was an incredible artist too, and he taught the kids at an after school club. He showed us more of the foundations of art, how light and dark worked, shading, perspective, even airbrushing. It was then that I had found my true love of the creative processes.
AR: What is your earliest art memory?
Probably doodling as a kid, always sloshing paint around! Ha!
AR: What did it feel like when you sold your first artwork?
I can’t really remember selling my first piece, as I have been making art for many years, but I do remember very well the first time I sold a piece in an auction. I was lucky enough to be asked to submit some pieces to a show at the Saatchi Gallery. There was a live auction to take place on the last evening and my piece the “Fuck It Bucket” found itself in the middle of a bidding war. It was amazing and exciting to see people coveting the work like that and pushing up the price, it became the biggest seller of the night!
AR: What’s your favourite creative work (artwork, music, play, film, etc)
Not sure I could put my finger on just one piece, I love so many different works for different reasons. I do have a huge love for the massive sculpture, I love the idea of creating a huge piece in bronze, stainless or ally that will be around long after I’ve gone. The huge pieces Damien Hirst creates, KAWS and many others, all give me a sense of awe and wonder, the feeling of being so small next to them, just magical. I am lucky that I sometimes get to create some big pieces in my company (www.ahstudios.co.uk), that produces the weird and wonderful for the corporate and film world. A couple of years back I built an 11m Eiffel Tower covered in Lancome Perfume bottles that was set in Kings Cross Station over Christmas. Hopefully one day I will get a chance to create one of my own.
AR: What’s next?
I have some ideas I am working on currently, a new painting, some quite technical sculpture pieces that I am hoping to complete soon, what can I say… watch this space!! Ha!
Click here to check out Antony 'H' Haylock's new and exclusive release 'Grate Britain'