In The Studio with Steven Marshall
Steven Marshall in his studio
This week In The Studio, TAG Fine Arts speaks to one of our fantastic artists, Steven Marshall! He introduces us to his creative process, why art can't be explained and why he would invite the late Louise Bourgeois to dinner. You can find more of his work here!
Steven Marshall - Glasswork (Festival) - courtesy of TAG Fine Arts
Steven Marshall is a British contemporary visual artist, known for his stunning multi-layered artwork. Marshall's pictures are created by painting on to front and back surfaces of multiple sheets of glass, which are layered one infront of the other with gaps between to create an actual depth. This means that the figures in the picture throw real shadows which move with any change of light source. The composition of the whole picture, and the relationships between the elements in it, alter with any change in environment and movement of the audience's viewpoint.
Steven Marshall - Glasswork (Opening) - courtesy of TAG Fine Arts
When did you first start working with TAG Fine Arts?
I have been working with Mark Jason since 2002, and so when he joined forces with TAG, I was happy to join too.
What is your background?
I was born in Kent and gradually, over 50 years, seemed to drift west. I’m now in Devon.
What first inspired you to create?
I can’t recall an epiphany. I remember drawing a lot as a kid, (on miles of redundant computer printout that my dad would bring home from work), mostly spaceships and aeroplanes I think. At school I camped out in the art room as much as was allowed. I had a great art teacher who encouraged us to ignore what he thought to be the very unhelpful O and A level art syllabus and find our own way. (I failed art A level, I like to think as a consequence of his influence and not of a lack of talent). As a teenager I took every opportunity to stay with my grandparents in London. I’d spend days on end in the museums and galleries where my curiosity and delight in art really took hold.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
Autonomy. Indulgence. How many people can say that they truly love their job? I can.
Steven Marshall - Glasswork (Ongoing) - courtesy of TAG Fine Arts
What is the hardest part of creating an artwork?
Managing the inevitable swings between ego and self-doubt and finding the balance between my intentions and what actually happens during the process of making a painting.
Define what art means to you, in 150 characters or less.
I think a work of art is something that can’t be explained away. A thing that at it’s heart has something elusive and inexplicable.
Does your work comment on current social or political issues?
What is your studio/workspace like?
All the way down at the bottom of our long, narrow, L-shaped garden, past the beans, past the bins, past the wood pile, is a little collection of sheds and out buildings. This is my domain. This is where the magic happens!
Steven Marshall's studio
Do you have a favourite artist/work of art?
No. I could compile a list 10 miles long of paintings, films, sculptures, records, etc that I love and that are extremely important to me, and it wouldn’t be exhaustive. I recently came across a single Mondrian painting on an uncannily quiet afternoon in Tate Modern. I’ve always loved his work. We had a moment.
If you could have dinner with any artist, past or present, who would it be and why?
I’ve recently been reading interviews with Louise Bourgeois and she had so much to say and experienced so much. Dinner with her would be fascinating. And I’ve always thought Alex Katz would be good company.
How has social media impacted your career?
I was a very late and very reluctant adopter of social media. When I joined Instagram my suspicions that there are a lot of artists out there, were confirmed.
Do you create your best work independently or when within a community?
Independently. I take a huge interest in art from all periods, disciplines and corners of the world and I inevitably take ideas and lessons from what I’m exposed to, but I do try to make a virtue of my seclusion and protect my work from the influence of my contemporaries. I like the idea that it will evolve in isolation in similar idiosyncratic ways to the freakish species that have come to exist on remote islands like Madagascar. Truly original.
Steven Marshall - Glasswork (Day 2) - courtesy of TAG Fine Arts
Describe your style in 5 words.
Outward-looking. Musical. Pedestrian. Painstaking. Funny. (is that 5 words or 6?)
Is there a quote that you live by?
‘You must not think me necessarily foolish because I am facetious, nor will I consider you necessarily wise because you are grave’. Sydney Smith.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Yes. Always. I’m currently working on a series of paintings responding to early modernist paintings and exploring the gap between their lofty, utopian ideals and the more pragmatic reality of our day today, today.
I’m also desperately trying to get some bespoke steel frames made and some Perspex cut to order so that I can continue the Glassworks series. The companies who do these things are, like so many others, having enormous problems operating under the current circumstances. Good luck and good health to them and to everybody else.