Interview with Mark Westell and Whitney McVeigh FAD Magazine, 2012
M.W. If you weren't an artist, what else would you be?
W.M. A writer or filmmaker
M.W. Can you tell us more about your work and what are the main ideas you would like to express?
W.M. I started the process of dismantling old books in China in 2007 and the collage pieces are an extension of this work. They are a reinvention of the original page with sourced material from domestic books, shipping manuals, legers and encyclopedias. It is a delicate process and a form of deconstruction/reconstruction. I've travelled a great deal and sourced materials in other countries as it informs and opens up the work.I am currently working with and engraving text into found objects. I have visited markets regularly for many years and work with objects I have close association with. In October 2010 I was invited by the Nirox Foundation is South Africa to make paintings for a period of two months. Nirox is situated in the Gauteng district in the World Heritage site The Cradle of Humankind. It is an open forum and centre for the exchange of ideas and communication on a cross-cultural, inter-disciplinary level. The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site and contains a complex of limestone caves where the 2.3-million year-old fossil of a woman was found. My project was to draw images out of the land, essentially to respond to the land. I work intuitively, allowing the image to emerge through the process. There's a kind of dialogue and controlled freedom in the making of work.
M.W. How do you start the process of making work?
W.M. I gather materials, prepare surfaces, generally make sure I have everything at hand to work freely and without concerns of what I require.
M.W. Do you consider the viewer, when making your work?
W.M. No, not at all.
M.W. Name 3 artists that have inspired your work?
W.M. Susan Hiller, Bill Viola and Louise Bourgeois. Bill Viola's Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House: Writings 1973-4 and Louise Bourgeois' Deconstruction of the Father and Reconstruction of the Father are two books that have, to a great extent, informed my work.
M.W. Name 3 of your least favourite artists.
W.M. I'd love but can't. It seems much of what happens today is centred around fashion and money.
M.W. What defines something as a work of art?
W.M. It raises questions and confirms beliefs.
M.W. In times of austerity, do you think art has a moral obligation to respond topically?
W.M. Not necessarily. I think art reflects as a mirror; a single line or movement of paint of frame of film can reflect back to a person something that deepens their understanding of life, isn't this the point? That we can go further into ourselves through someone else's search for truth.
M.W. Anytime, any place - which artist's body would you most like to inhabit?
W.M. Bill Viola's as the subconsious resonates throughout his work. He represents humanity through a particular lens and yet somehow he still leaves us questioning.
M.W. What is your favourite 'ism'?
W.M. Escapism.
M.W. What was the most intelligent thing that someone said or wrote about your work?
W.M. "Out of the formless matter of the paint emerge forms which remind us of human beings, forms which suggest the gestures of bodies that are alive with feeling and consciousness. They're not painted as if they were at a distance - seen within the space of some visual surrounding, an image of a subject in a setting. Instead, they seem up to close, almost as imprints of bodies, but still just far enough away to appear as images. This slight shift, between tha bare, physical presence of the paint and the intuition of a human figure, could be seen as analogous to that slight shift that exists between the human body and the human being. "JJ Charlesworth, Between Bodies and Images - 2009
M.W. And the dumbest?
W.M. McVeigh's art reminds me of toddlers pouring paint on to paper, folding it and making blobby butterfly wings."
M.W. Which artists would you most like to rip off, sorry, I mean appropriate as a critique of originality and authorship?
W.M. Louise Bourgeois, she was an exceptional artist.
M.W. Do you care what your art costs? State your reasons!
W.M. Yes I care but I can't change things, as an artist it's not something I focus on, if I did, I would lose sense of the work. Whether I sell work or not I will always be making it.
M.W. If Moma and the Tate and the Pompidou wanted to acquire one of your works each, which would you want them to have?
W.M. Some of the more recent found object work.
M.W. What's next for you?

A panel discussion: Mending: Trauma and the possible function of Art. 8th March, 6.30-8.30, the work will be auctioned March 5th as part of Now & Future Japan. All Visual Arts (AVA) will be exhibiting new paintings in Camouflage, October, 2012



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