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Photography by Andre Penteado

Sickboy Stays Free

A Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style key givewaway will offer one lucky guest the chance to own Sickboy's Stay Free Factory art installation.

Apparently Sickboy’s yellow and red temple is the first thing anyone ever asks him about. For the record he chose it because he was “into architecture” and wanted to put “a bright happy little building on grey buildings”. The 28-year-old from Manchester has painted for 14 years. He originally moved down south to Bristol, drawn by the pull of Roni Size and Massive Attack, but has been in the big smoke for the last 18 months. His love of street art stems from his desire to spread happiness for free and it’s something that he’s extended to his new show.

When Stay Free opens this Thursday visitors will get the chance to win the huge installation at its core. But even if you don’t win the big prize there will be more free stuff. Dazed Digital spoke to the man himself to find out more.

Dazed Digital: So how is the last minute preparation going?
Sickboy: It’s just been crazy. All of my friends are working for free, my dad, my family. I’ve been painting for the show for the last four or five months; I’ve not painted anything outside. We’ve been in here since Friday building a factory, an art factory with lots of art painted by me on it. Inside factory workers will make art. As you go into the venue you will be handed a key and one of the 1000 keys will open a door. The winner will get to take the installation home to their garden, if it’ll fit.

DD: How does your show compare with some of the more mainstream street art shows? Why did you protest against the street art at the Tate Modern?
Sickboy: I didn’t want to do my show in a gallery for a start. Stay Free’s in a really nice building, a big old tram shed. I’ve not had any sponsorship. I’m basically almost broke though paying for it all myself. With the Tate I wanted to make a point that we all should keep to our roots and stay free, free of all the constraints that can be put upon you. Everyone bounces off each other street art movement; I wasn’t against the work at the Tate. It was the fact a big gallery uses street art to give itself a bit of cool.

DD: What do you hope visitors will get from the show?
Sickboy: I think an insight into my mind maybe. The world I’ve been creating for god knows how many years culminates in the show. That’s what a solo show should be about. All the paintings are pretty intricate and they relate to the house. My friend was asked about it and he said: “We’re creating Sickboy’s brain”. That explained it to me, it is like that. People will take from it what they want.

Everyone who comes to the exhibition will be able to take away something, whether they’ve got a lot of money or no money. The factory will be making art to give away. If you put a piece in the street you can have it for free, I wanted to maintain a bit of that. I think it’s nice to put smiles on people’s faces: they go in and don’t expect anything and then walk away with a little thing they can keep forever.

DD: What are you going to do after you’ve brightened up east London with paint and free pictures?
Sickboy: I’ve had four hours sleep every day for the last month and I need to have my normal eight hours again. After that I’d like to go abroad, maybe live abroad for a little bit, spread my wings and do some shows elsewhere. It depends how this one goes but I want to push myself forward in a creative sense.

DD: Will everything be ready for opening night then?
Sickboy: It might not be if I speak to you any longer.

Stay Free on 4th-10th December 2008 from 12:00-18:00 (Free entry)  The Tramshed 6-8 Garden Walk Shoreditch London EC2A 3EQ / UK / Tube: Old Street