One of art’s greatest merits is it’s all encompassing nature; able to include any theme, utilise any medium, and express any concept of the artist’s choosing. The later has been thoroughly explored by Bristol-based multidisciplinary artist, 45rpm. In his own words; “If there is a creative pie, then my painty fingers are in it.” The vastness of his artistic scope has been demonstrated time and time again, from his long running sketch-a-day series, to his recent solo exhibition at Moosey Art.
Since an early obsession with action figures 45rpm has long been fixated with witty and vibrant characters which now feature almost exclusively as his artistic practice. “I realised I could recreate battle scenes on paper with them doing anything was a big one for me!” He explained, describing the specific lightbulb moment during his childhood which began his creative career. “Cue me then drawing a million Ninja Turtles for hours on end.” It was when he first set eyes on a painted train carriage that inspiration truly hit though, he described; “riding the train with my dad and seeing the word Zelda go by a million times transfixed me. It mixed mischief with art, two things at the top of my fun list.”
Mischievousness became a central theme of ‘Back of the Net’, his Norwich-based solo show which reached it’s conclusion earlier this month. The exhibition showcased many of 45rpm’s pieces physically breaking free of their frames to cause creative chaos across the gallery’s walls, as well a unique original collaboration with Cambridge-based Mr Penfold. “If I think about it I guess I struggle with restrictions of a canvas. Being a writer at heart I’m used to going big and making the most of space. So I guess even with my gallery work I’m keen on exploring the idea of being different and working outside the boundaries. Always step over the line.”
As well as a sense of misbehaviour, verbal humour is core to all of 45rpm’s work; “The theme is always based around word play, not intentionally but it just always happens. I’m fascinated with slang and being English. So each piece would have started off from a saying I’ve heard in a pub or play on words.”
A lot of his pieces appearing in the show also began life as part of his highly successful ‘Sketch a Day’ series of 30-minute colour drawings. “Every artist has ideas bouncing around in their head whilst there trying to concentrate on the job in hand. That’s where sketch a day came from, I can’t concentrate on drawing a logo when there is a vision of an ant eater smoking a cigar in my brain. I decided that after the first coffee I would draw whatever nonsense was bursting to appear on a piece of paper. That’s why some are good and some are just weird.”
These sketches have become an ongoing muse for the artist, having since developed them further into all new ceramic pieces, stemming from a collaboration between himself, clothing and lifestyle brand Entrepreneurs and ceramicist Jasmine Simpson. “It something I want to do a lot more of.” He explained, with a sense of having come full circle from the days of drawing sketches of childhood action figures. “I’ve drawn hundreds of characters and now they don’t feel finished on paper, I want to hold them in my hands.”
Through this rapid creation of creative material 45rpm has noticed a marked growth in his style, which he described; “I’m definitely starting to understand character design. I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m getting there. I’ve done a few drawings I’m still proud off, but practice makes perfect. Weirdly I’m getting less neat and more messy, and definitely enjoying the simpler drawings. I guess my taste is changing. As long as they make people smile my job is done.” However, there is still a long way to go, as his recent Moosey exhibition marks the breakthrough of a new direction. “I literally can’t wait for a day off so I can start planning my new body of work! I feel like I’m getting better as an artist with each show and pushing an idea further forward. The cut out framed pieces I’ve painted for Moosey are the direction I want to pursue but I want bigger and better already! I just need to find the time.”