Max speaks to me about once being a pirate radio DJ, photographing the Leeds West Indian Carnival since the early 70s, working for the Chapeltown News community newspaper, vocational sociology, experiential learning, the tragic story of David Oluwale, the Remember Oluwale Memorial Association, and the upcoming 50 year anniversary of his death.
Christmas Special: Sally tells me about how a poster in the Merrion Centre introduced her to Leeds’ DIY art scene in the early 2000s, witnessing it ever since, teaching herself computer coding, phoning up Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, encouraging young artists, and making mince pies out of artworks.
Tony talks to me about romanticising Leeds through the poetry and literature he found in the Chicago library, second cities, staging a production of Waiting for Godot half in Chinese, working in Radio, the colossal Studs Terkel archive, the notion of ‘feeling tone’, and his new role at Chapel FM.
Clare tells me about her series of world-wide performances and how they developed from the many difficulties faced when making site-sensitive work in other countries; walking too fast, being “busy” to prove something to ourselves, the adrenaline of performance, interfacing with the world, and making sculptures for people’s pockets.
Kerry discusses her quite significant contribution to artist-led activity in the city of Leeds over the last decade, from co-founding the peripatetic project Vitrine, to PSL (Project Space Leeds), and then The Tetley; and now her current research into artist-led activity itself, and developing the de-centralising East Leeds Project.
Liz speaks to me about establishing the 105 Women project, Audre Lorde, doing things together, having a constant awkwardness with life, being an Art Doctor and their current project ‘Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art?’, not being good with authority, burning a giant bra, and almost setting herself on fire.
Matthew talks with me about growing up in East Africa whilst being sent to school in the UK, the influence this has had on his work, silversmithing, art sometimes interrupting life but being a threshold to somewhere else, not meeting ‘British Play Equipment Standards’, and starting a somewhat mysterious gallery in his studio in Todmorden.
Alfie tells me about only making his “first work” in 2014, joining the School of The Damned, doing exhibitions about his dad’s death - and his dad then getting involved, making work at work, not liking his own company, and how that has lead him to engage in quite intense collaborations.
Pavel speaks about the ever-changing definition of art, art being useless but having a purpose, ‘adding depth to talent’, the importance of experiencing a work of art and learning how to attend to it, the many ways art education has changed, showcasing, studio-groups, and his observations of today.
Charles talks to me about the influence that building dens, rafts and dams during his childhood had on the way he approaches projects, blagging being an important skill, unofficially turning street lights on, interrogating cities, and being able to do things in Preston he wouldn’t be able to do elsewhere.
Nina tells me about her background in embroidery and the difficulty of trying to remove its influence from her work, as well as her own, how the unanswerable question of “what is art?” keeps driving her towards it, leaps of faith, being a nurse, emotional resilience, and her love of paper.
Emma speaks to me about being denied access to the film department at the start of her Fine Art degree, becoming good at faking being a natural painter, her interest in scripts, screenplays, table reads and gifs, using academic platforms as an arena for performance, and being a self-declared harridan.
Pete talks with me about his differences with the hierarchy of image making in art education, why he always fought for every student, his artistic career taking off when he was unemployed and hopefully again now in retirement, bailiffs attempting to take his life work, and making art an adventure.
Michael chats to me about never documenting his work and letting it exist as oral history, being a trouble causer, how a dyslexia test gave his work a visual identity, setting up a new foundation course and gallery in Scunthorpe, and now running the only foundation course in South America.
Garry tells me about how making instructional drawings of machinery took him from his apprenticeship as an overhead crane fitter in Dudley to art school under the tutelage of Keith Arnatt, working as an industrial interior designer, his over four decades as an educator, and the importance of balancing the intellectual with the psychical.
Chris speaks about the influence of skateboarding and Quakerism on himself as an artist, establishing the English Disco Lovers group that sought to oppose and overtake the English Defence League, receiving death threats, not mentioning Michael Ashcroft, tucking in Marina Abramović and being among the youngest ever to give the Swarthmore Lecture.
Pamela speaks with me about not trusting memories, recording voices, giving sorrow words, kindness as a force, setting up a creative mothers peer support network, and how receiving Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy to recover from the trauma of Guillain-Barré syndrome gave her a new found resolve to pursue her work.
Before going to art school Rory spent ten years street painting around Europe, was made an honorary gypsy and even exiled from Florence. We talk about fabricating an imaginary student on his Foundation course, being typecast as a joke artist, starting his own art fair and performing Beethoven without knowing how to play the piano.
George tells me about the significance of the local video store’s foreign language shelf when growing up, how much of his travels around the world have been a means to expand that shelf, and how spending time at the Jatiwangi Art Factory is making him re-think the potential of his hometown of Marsden.
Andy talks to me about not actually being that interesting, the awful experience of watching someone play a younger version of himself, embarrassment, self-financing public sculpture, truth humour, and not using art as an excuse to make less good versions of the things they are intending to be.
Nicola chats with me about her love of reading, libraries, and even knowledge itself; an artist being full of doubts, understanding not understanding conceptual art, self-flagellation being too easy, going against what’s expected of you, stubbornness, and also gives me lots of good advice on being a full-time artist.
Keith tells me about launching a full size Rover 75 made of clay through Cannock Chase forest, being banned from the ceramics studio on the first day of art college and still ending up studying ceramics, tripping the V&A’s electrical systems, collaborating with Napalm Death and embracing unpredictability.
Whilst on a brief return from Moscow, Sean speaks with me about his own seminal experience of doing a Foundation course in Carlisle, teaching painting through not painting, having multiple collaborative practices without necessarily having an individual one, and trying to capture the Loch Ness monster for the Museum of Modern Art.
Amanda talks with me about her scientific approach to art making, her background in biochemistry, family ties to Dolly the sheep, building a practice from volunteering at and now working to develop the creative mental health service Inkwell Arts, trees, finally getting a British Passport, and the many complications of working with fire.
Liar Hydrant and Ghoul Baby (aka artists Hardeep Pandhal and David Steans) talk with me about their rap personas and projects, the varying ways it is part of, or feeds into their respective practices, collaboration, not performing live, and it being an enjoyable, generative and sometimes uncomfortable thing to do.
Simeon recounts his journey from growing up in Huddersfield, clubbing around the country, spending sixteen years in industry before turning to art education, coming to find his past to be a useful resource, to ending up in Tate Britain. Along the way we talk masculinity, aspiration, peer influence, and Vogue magazine.
Emma joins me after a busy day running a pop up Playlab to talk about the influence of her pub landlady grandmother, realising she didn’t want to pursue an “artist’s life”, being nosey, the will to create, people having fun as being a higher pursuit, and the power of slime.
Harold tells me about discovering that conceptual art is funny, how art could be an investigatory process, the value of a good educational experience, house parties as an approach to performativity, and for him, why success is just someone figuring out what it is he even does.
Mick chats to me about his almost four decades working in social care, ending up as the Deputy Director of Adults and Health for Leeds City Council, as well as making Leeds United dementia friendly, commissioning a room dedicated to his mother and the Riverside Mission at the Art Hostel, and the potential for art as liberation.
Bryony shares her background in photography, newspapers, and why it wasn’t for her, visiting galleries on her own as a teenager, curating as piggybacking, and why artists should choose their practice carefully; whilst I reflect on doing the podcast, utilising artistic license, genuineness as subversion, and trying not to worry so much.
Mei runs the oldest store in New York’s Chinatown and tells me about her decision to take on the family business, facing the threat of gentrification (of which galleries are a big part), setting up the W.O.W Project in response, and the significance of her doing so as a young woman.
After having taken her Improv 101 course at UCB, Chelsea gives me my feedback and some extra lessons as well. She also tells me about originally intending to be a painter but instead finding improv, her approaches to teaching, how it differs to coaching, and how improv helped with her social anxiety.
Carolina speaks about growing up in “very rural” Sweden, leaving home at the age of sixteen, her early beginnings as a graffiti artist, becoming a mother, reawakening her New York alias, Swedish humour, and the story behind that particular painting on the side of a building in lower Manhattan.
Ken and Julia tell me about their journey into becoming an artist duo, playing John and Yoko, how living in beautiful places increases your environmental concerns, and the experience of starting a farm in rural Japan. Then I discuss with Raul our shared love of benches, the most beautiful bench in the world, his literal allergy to painting, and much more we seem to have in common.
David shares with me his experience of being seen as too bohemian to continue his duty to the Israeli army, defining himself as an Arab Jew, being Mizrahi in a mainly Ashkenazi high school, his early sense of taste, his love of art, of teaching art, and the value of being generous.
Knut talks to me about touring a video work around in a lorry, the usefulness of ambivalence, his most recent film made on either side of the Norwegian / Russian border, filming in military zones, and trying to establish new possibilities for people to be able to make artist produced films.
Jim Costanzo of the Aaron Burr Society stops by to talk about working for the US Army in Germany, studying intermedia in Ohio, joining REPOhistory, the president of the New York Stock Exchange complaining about their work, occupying Wall Street, and the story of Aaron Burr killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
Remy tells me about growing up in Suriname, giving up the comforts of working as a mechanical engineer to become an artist, moving to Amsterdam after an invitation to study at the Rietveld Academie, being considered a ‘Dutch Master of the 21st Century’, and how visiting his family altar had a profound effect on his artistic perspective.
Sonia joins me to talk about making work for and within her local area of Harlem, performing in and in spite of the rain, the benefits of improvisation, authentic movement, being an amateur (at some things), fairly paying artists, and how her work could be considered as singing without singing.
Elisabeth speaks to me about never intending to be an artist, the Danish festival of Fastelavn, cats in barrels, elevators, directing ants, our childhood fears, and how facing her own fears is often the starting point for many of her works.
Anna tells me about what it was like growing up in the remote town of Kaustinen, Finland, working on the Finnish Big Brother TV show, studying at the Department of Time and Space; the dailyness of the studio, dressage, always wanting to be a dancer and how that is informing her latest film work.
Joe gives what he describes as the most comprehensive account of his life he has ever given, from circumnavigating the failings of comprehensive education, his unlikely and grievous route to becoming an artist, and to how moving to America gave him a greater perspective on racism in Britain.
Josie shares her thoughts on silliness, confidence, skills (or lack thereof), being too emotionally connected to your work, art not always making you feel good, feeling special, status, and tells me the story behind that (in)famous graduation photograph of her holding her degree with bandaged hands.
After getting through over thirty jobs by his mid-twenties and just before setting off to serve as a combat medic, Stephen made the decision to give it up and enrol on an Art & Design Access course at Wirral Met College. Only a few years later I now catch up with him upon his return from participating in the Karachi Biennial, Pakistan.
Jade tells me about her complex but clearly loving relationship with living in Scarborough and a little bit of what that entails, the discomfort of making others comfortable, the duty of care of artistic institutions, the officer class, and shares an unsuccessful proposal with a really quite serious anecdote.
Jenny talks to me on the morning of her exhibition opening about being asked to unofficially do O-level art, studying tapestry with no interest in making tapestries, making time for your work, and the deeper aspect of her latest series that she doesn’t necessarily want the viewer to know about.
Geri stops by to chat about not giving too much of your material away on the internet (hence why I’ve ended up cutting quite a bit out), undergoing life coaching, artist guilt, trying to be less apologetic and less dependent on inner turmoil to help make your work. Then I meet with Tyler whilst he’s over in the UK researching Garth Evans’ artist placement at British Steel, which may have had some big implications, and we talk pedagogy, precarity and their combined perpetuation.
Testament joins me to discuss conscious rap, the Leeds 13, William Blake, Christian fundamentalism, his latest show WOKE, trying to be a better feminist, and tells me the story behind his beatboxing Guinness world record and the unexpected place where it can help.
James talks to me about the significant role his mother played in his artistic development, doing his foundation course twice, running around Leeds Art Gallery naked, the many anxieties and pressures we experience as artists, curators, or even what we call ourselves, and how ego can make for bad exhibitions.
Derek tells me about growing up in Birmingham, receiving a Technical Education, making adventure playgrounds, the artistic advantages of being a van driver, rural living, regional MA programmes, Fullerites, being among the first people to do a practice based PHD, and their unintended consequences.