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.” His wide artistic scope and repertoire were fully explored in our recent exhibition, “Back of the Net”, between the 18th of August and then 3rd of September
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 the moment to us; “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.”
Mischief is one of the central themes covered in the show, which finds many of 45rpm’s pieces physically breaking free of their frames to cause creative chaos across the gallery’s walls. “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 including some all new ceramic pieces stemming from a collaboration between 45rpm, 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.”
When asked about his personal favourite piece of the exhibiton, 45rpm highlighted perhaps one of the most intimate areas in the body of work, and suggested a unique reason for why this would always hold a unique place in his exhibitions. “Always the photography wall. With the art work I will always look at as what else could I have done or is it fully finished; in a healthy way I'm always looking to do one step better, it’s what keeps me moving forward. But with the photography, thats not for sale, and it is what it is.” Providing a literal snapshot into the real world life of the artist, the photography contrasts the rest of the exhibition and so provides a refreshing new viewpoint of the artist and his unique way of experiencing the world. “Every photograph tells a million tales that only I and the people with me know. They could be better or more in focus etc, but that’s not the point, there a snap shot of a thousand adventures. There never of what was painted but of the journey to get there which hopefully speaks more to people who are part of my subculture.”
Not content to just bring his work into our fine city, 45rpm also sought to capture a part of our area and give his exhibition a special Norwich twist. “I like to live in a city for a week or so before a show to explore and soak it up. Norwich in my head was Colman's mustard and Alan Partridge; ‘Back of the Net’ is my favourite Partridge quote.” Finally, he summarised his show with a final quote. “If you want to know what’s bouncing around inside my head coming to one of my shows will be like crawling in my brain. If you had time to visit the exhibition whilst it was running you will have experienced a unique look into the mind of a world class character artist, however if not there are still many pieces available to pick up and take home.
Words By Jodie Smith