Art-Tube 01


Written by Hatti Whitman
21 Monday 21st November 2011

How do you think the art world has changed since Art-Tube 01 first went on display?

That's a pretty big question. Certainly, artists have to work harder; it's all hands on deck. We've always been about encouraging change and we’ll continue to do that, as long as the world's still spinning and we're still here. Using the power of art through spaces like The Subway Gallery, bringing it to everyone, that’s still the most important thing.

What inspired you to commission Art-Tube 01 in the first place?

I was trying to do something that hadn't been done before. As an outsider you have to find a way of doing art that will get the outside inside people's heads. It's always art in a pure sense that gets the biggest hits, the experience of people being confronted by art when they least expect it.

Do you think the messages behind the works have changed over the past decade?

When I rehung the show everything felt very fresh. There was no theme to it but it turned out (and I feel quite strongly about this) that it had a strong impact, with a lot of comment on issues that are as important now as they were then.

What do you think about Art on the Underground?

I think all art is a good thing, and exposure for art is always good. When I first had the idea for Art-Tube I had to raise the sponsorship myself, rent the train, then go to Transport For London and say 'This is what's happening,' and then they supported it. I think Art on the Underground, and Poems on the Underground are great initiatives though.

Art-Tube 01 was a very inclusive exhibition, and you've carried on that message of inclusivity with the Subway Gallery. How important is it to you to bring art to the masses?

There has to be more to art than just selling it to a banker. There was this whole thing with Art-Tube 01 about trying to get it to feature everyone - men, women, old, young, fashion, poetry, music. The exhibition celebrates everything and is easy to engage with quickly; you see all these images and you can zoom into one if it takes your fancy. There are no rules.

The Subway Gallery is in the huge chasm between graffiti and advertising. People walk past and there is something very giving about it. I stumbled onto this space in the first place and personally feel art is the only thing that can save it. It's made it into a special, secret gem at the heart of London, here for everyone to enjoy.

Probably your most famous work to date is HIM (below), your waxwork of Charles Saatchi. You said that it was ‘the one piece of art that Charles Saatchi won’t buy.’ Do you know what Saatchi thinks about it?

I said that because I was using the biggest advertiser to advertise myself, making a joke out of it. It was a total juxtaposition in many ways. When I did the book I made a HIM sculpture that was for sale, so that he was selling the book and selling himself, which was hilarious. Saatchi came down to see it at the Zoo Art Fair, he said he thought it was fantastic. He'd lost quite a bit of weight though; it was strange to see him staring at chubby HIM.

It’s also funny that HIM gets recycled when there are articles about Saatchi; there's always the picture with the Mickey Mouse ears making another appearance. I think it’s great. I'm not as an artist, as a gallery, in competition with anyone. If you can support or make art in any way then do, that's the most important thing. You can't wait for someone to help you, you gotta get out there and do it.

What would you be doing if you weren't an artist?

I don't think I have a choice about being an artist; I've always been interested in art, music, poetry. I'll always be stomping away somewhere, this is all I can do.

What's next for you and the Subway Gallery?

We're getting ready for next year, year of the dragon. The gallery is coming up to its sixth anniversary in June, and we've got an amazing show planned for the Olympics and Paralympics. I won't tell you now but once it's all confirmed it's going to be so incredible. I'm so excited about next year.

Art-Tube 01 is on display at The Subway Gallery until 26th November. For more info visit their website.

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  • trishabaker1
    Sat 26 - Nov - 2011, 05:20
    thanks for the info
  • Guest: tst
    Tue 22 - Nov - 2011, 12:03
    Yay, I love it