CS Coates & Scarry

Mike Inglis the man behind Spaceboy

Mike Inglis's upcoming show at the Glasgow Arches opens next week so we thought we would grab the opportunity to talk to him about his work, inspriation, thoughts on haggis as well as a sneak preview of four works for the show.

Q. Your upcoming show at the Glasgow Arches is called ‘Shadows Fade’, why? The show deals with the belief systems that surround death and grief particularly spiritualism. I had a great aunt who "acted" as a medium with her own church and congregation. The title comes a grave stone in Methhill cemetery in the little working class Scottish seaside town I was brought up in. The headstone was engraved with the words “until the shadows fade away". I’ve adapted that to "shadows fade" for a show title and also "until the long shadows fade" for a wall text piece.







Q. What was it like being let lose in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery? To begin with it seemed pretty daunting. Right at the beginning one of the other artists (Pete Martin) painted "do not be afraid" onto the walls and it was as if he infused us all with this sense of courage, so much so we almost felt invincible. As a group we developed this amazing sense of synergy and the collaborations developed thick and fast. We realised we may never have an opportunity like that again I guess so we really let our creativity flood the space and the results were amazing. It was a very unique and exciting project and its good to undermine what the establishment stands for in these types of space. Living Scottish artists making art about ordinary Scottish people - that’s what theNational Portrait Gallery should be about anyway, not a pompous dry and dusty view of an ancient Scotland we can no longer connect with.


Poster for 'Rough Cut Nation'


Walls from 'Rough Cut'
Q. Why screen-printing? I work with screen-printing at the moment because I am producing a lot of work which is very graphic and quite illustrative (influenced heavily by my twin passions of comics and graffiti) and I need an output that suits those ideas. Screen-printing is an obvious route to realise these images, the process is so similar to graffiti and its immediacy appeals for those reasons.


Red Door Gallery Window
Q. You still find time to wheat paste in the streets of Europe, who are your 3 top street artists? There are so many I love. Swoon is amazing, I love what she does with cut-outs and her installation work is truly beautiful. I love the work of Blek as well, he's the original and best when it come to wheat pastes which raise a political question. I saw some of his in Paris a few years ago and his placement is amazing. I also love Faile, they can do no wrong it seems. But sometimes it’s just the unknown artist who inspires. Last year in Barcelona I saw these tiny little illustrations of girls on paper doilies and they were so original and fresh. That’s the beauty of the street, everyone has access and an equal chance.

Q. You recently went to India, tell me more? It was a cultural exchange with an art school in India and one in Scotland where i’m a part time visual communication lecturer. I ran a graffiti project with the Indian students that required them to produce a stencil based protest piece. The students weren’t very graffiti aware there. India doesn’t have a huge graffiti culture like Europe or the states, but they engaged readily and loved the freedom of speech element to the protest as there is a lot of social and political repression in India. In the end they did very well and were taking it off campus and onto the streets on the Saturday night just as I was leaving. Q. Your next place to visit? I want to go to Marrakech next. It’s been on my list for a while now and I really feel like going now. I feel the need for another cultural overload outside of Europe. It helps maintain your perspective on your own life and problems when you step outside of your own culture and see how other systems and hierarchies operate.

Q. Cigar boxes, eye dropper bottles and matchboxes, what next? I want to work on a larger scale piece which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It’s a dressing table with triple mirrors set above it that I used to be fascinated by when I was little and visited my granma. I want to try using a few different processes to paint and decorate the furniture while screen-printing images directly onto the mirrors and the inside of the drawers. Q. Haggis yes or no. yes and no.... scallops pan fried and placed on haggis rounds with crispy fried carrots and green pea cooles- yes. haggis supper -no.

Q. You teach as well as create, what wise words would you give to any young inspiring artist? Believe in yourself, work hard, don't compromise and try to get used to rejection. Above all never ever stop, never give in, when you fall pick yourself up and go again. It’s hard but it’s the best job you could ever have. The pay is rubbish but the reward is making the work. The highest high you will ever have. Q. How is the arts scene in Scotland? Well it’s hard as an artist in Scotland who isn't making mainstream or commercial tourist art to stay buoyant. There are a lot of talented people around producing a lot of good work but there aren't many spaces showing new or emerging artists. Especially if your work isn't easy to classify like mine, sort of underground/outsider/low brow kind of stuff. There are some great collectives of artist running there own spaces but that’s often quite conceptual work. Red door gallery in Edinburgh and Red Coat in Glasgow are great commercial spaces but we are short of galleries in the north that deal in this type of work. You really have to hustle to get shows and funding.

Q. The beautiful Belinda is also an artist, have you ever worked together to create a piece of art? We always thought we might collaborate but we are both such control freaks with our work it hasn’t happened yet. I would really like to though when the right project comes along. We are each others most loyal friend and trusted critic but both of us are very secretive during the initial stages of creating our work and show absolutely no one, that makes collaboration more difficult. Q. Would you like to show in the States? It would be great to get a show in the states. Especially out on the West coast or in New York where there seems such genuine passion for the kind of work that inspires me. Street/urban/outsider/low brow/pop surrealism... it all seems to have a strong following out there. It’s such a distance though and I’ve got no contacts in the states but I would love to show the work there and see how it’s received.

Q. Is there a question you’ve wanted to answer but have never been asked? Not really. There are plenty I’ve been asked and didn’t want to answer but I talk a lot about my practice when i’m teaching so it’s good just to shut up and make the work and let it communicate with people on their own terms. That’s the best bit really.... Richard Scarry and The Chipster

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