Introducing Mychael Barrett
Posted by Charlotte Broomfield on 21st December 2013
1. What's your art background?
I studied Art in Canada at a private art school called The Symposium and then at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. After moving to London I studied printmaking at Central St Martins.
2. We couldn't help but laugh at Tracey Emin's dog. What's the story behind your 'Artist's Pets' series?
I had been working for some time on a series call 'Life Imitating Art' where recognisable and personally resonant vistas of London were peopled with references lifted from art historical sources. One day it occurred to me to give Marc Chagall a dog and I started wondering how to draw a dog that would be appropriate for him. The whole series came from that original premise.
3. Favourite Gallery in London?
Sir John Soanes house in Lincoln's Inn Fields for the Hogarth Rake's Progress paintings.
4. Have you ever had a framing nightmare?
Never had an actual nightmare featuring framing but the desire to create new work right up to every deadline makes me experience metaphorical ones every time there is either a solo show or art fair looming.
5. We find your Monopoly pieces truly fascinating. What's the inspiration behind them?
The two Monopoly pieces came from a desire to depict every one of the locations from the London Monopoly board. I was halfway through this quest before I decided to actually make a single image which so heavily referenced the actual board game. After completing the first one I went on to do a second because I felt sorry for the squares on the sides of the composition and so did one where they were at the bottom and the top as the outside plates were rotated around 90 degrees with a new plate in the centre and a different card at the bottom.
6. 'Notes from the Underground' is highly detailed. It includes specific references to all 270 stations and is comprised on four plates printed side by side in a manner reminiscent of an ancient folding map. How long did this take?
The research took a very long time, possibly about a year. Inevitably, the bulk of the plate work was done in the last month prior to its deadline and first showing as I promised it to a gallery for the London Original Print Fair.
7. Favourite Piece and why?
My favourite piece changes constantly but the most satisfying and perfectly realised work I have ever done was probably either 'Hockney's dog' or 'Jackson Pollock's dog'. They both turned out exactly like the images in my head.
8. Tell us a bit about your Mile End Mural. Is it difficult to paint on such an increased size-scale?
It is hugely difficult to paint on that kind of scale when you are afraid of heights! However, the commission dropped into my lap without my needing to pitch for it and I quickly realised that it is the kind of project that you just have to accept, embrace and then figure out how to complete. I insisted on a covered scaffolding as I claimed I didn't want the wall to get wet while we were painting. It was really just so that I couldn't see how high up I was.
9. Which famous people did you find had come from Mile End and how did you incorporate them into the mural?
This was quite easy as there was a plethora of famous people who have had something to do with Mile End and Whitechapel. The focus for the whole work is George Bernard Shaw who is looking up the Mile End Road towards the City. I painted him so large that his face extended over three levels of the scaffolding. My biggest mistake was not opening up the discussion about the people to put in to a wider audience so that I could have included more women. I only found out about Barbara Windsor being from there after I finished and would loved to have painted her. I had to fight to include the Krays who seemed too significant to leave out but I made sure that they were isolated and separate from the other people on the mural.
Mile End Mural by Mychael Barratt, James Glover and Nicholas Middleton.
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