Street art that stays on the walls "Til The Hot Runs Cold".
Word to Mother paints on found wood, sourced from the beaches of Hastings where he grew up, and discarded materials scavenged from the streets of East London. One of my personal favourites from his new show at the StolenSpace Gallery is "Signed, Sealed, Considered" - painted over an old shop sign advertising 'Adult Magazines', the weathered wood makes for an innovative canvas and the original sign lettering gleams through the paint as a testament to its former purpose. Word to Mother gives beautiful new life to unwanted materials.
Much serious thought clearly goes into Word to Mother's paintings, which seem both masculine and delicate at the same time, a welcome break from the "smash and grab" sensibility of a lot of current urban art. It's also unusual to see a "street" artist actually painting intricately by hand rather than using spray paints or screen printing, and he has even painstakingly applied gold leaf detail to some of the work in the show. A wall dedicated to sketches (sadly not for sale) highlights Word to Mother's raw ability, with intricate illustrations hanging alongside pieces of driftwood and street signs. The more observant viewer will also find humourous insights into the artist's personal life, as doodled rent reminders and to-do lists also dot the walls.
The evening also offered up an unexpected treat, as StolenSpace released a limited edition screen-print collaboration between Word to Mother and legendary street artist D*Face.
Dazed Digital: You are an obsessive sketcher and also paint onto found objects. Do you prefer the process of putting pencil to paper or paint to wood?Word to Mother: I love drawing. For me it is the most effective way to express an idea in its purest form - it's a black and white snapshot from your mind. Previously, I've tried to replicate a sketch in a painting and haven't been able to capture the line quality of my sketches. I'm trying not to get hung up on that anymore and, as a result of experimenting with tone, light sources and other mediums, my paintings are starting to look looser and feel more natural to me. I still feel I'm finding my feet with painting, it's an ongoing learning curve.
DD: What has been your most exciting find to date?WTM: It's never-ending! You find cool shit all the time. I was recently in San Francisco and was so frustrated that I was finding all this amazing stuff with no means of getting it home! Since moving to the city, the types of things I find vary. Instead of drift wood it tends to be more industrial stuff - more metal and old shop signs. I do have a piece of oak that I'm particularly fond of, I found that back home on the beach. I'll never paint on it though, it's too beautiful already.
DD: Your artwork seems to be exclusively of male figures. Why is this? WTM: I guess, in some way they're all self-portraits. I don't necessarily mean an anatomically accurate portrait of myself, but a figurative representation of a mood or idea I'm trying to convey.
DD: Are you comfortable being part of the exploding urban art scene?WTM: No, it scares the shit out of me. I think it's both an exciting and fragile time. The recent, almost overnight success of "urban art" has allowed young artists such as myself to show alongside more established artists and get introduced into the art world very quickly. The danger is that artists don't properly establish a fan-base or group of collectors that genuinely like their work. I'm all too aware of the state of the scene and I'm not in any rush. I'm a firm believer in retaining integrity and paying your dues. You got to take your time with this shit or you'll just be another forgotten name.
Til The Hot Runs Cold at StolenSpace Gallery 22nd May–15th June