Interview with Jeremy Deller
Interview conducted by alumna Natalia Fuller (MA 2014)
A lot of your work documents subcultures which must make for pretty wild research. What’s your research process like? How do you find the topic for your next project? Which work was the most fun to make, and why?
Not all are concerned with subcultures , some, from time to time , research is not rigorous and slapdash.
A little like my student output , I can barely use a computer , I just go where I am interested , it’s not a bad life , the most fun is where you get your hands a bit dirty.
You spent a few weeks at the Factory with Andy Warhol and also met Francis Bacon. Could you tell us about those experiences and any illustrative (or amusing) anecdotes or conversations you remember from that period?
I don’t talk about AW I have retired the story for a few years, Bacon I bumped into when I was 17 I was writing my A Level art history long essay on him , I managed to get a short interview with him much to the annoyance of the people around him who wanted him to stop talking to me , he was very kind and a bit pissed .
What did you study at The Courtauld? Who was your professor? Why did you choose the History of Art rather than fine arts and how do you think that influenced your practice?
I studied Baroque , ( at that time it was classed as modern art) That was a joke by the way . Jennifer Fletcher was our tutor , she loved the Italian painting and would make us stand in front of artworks for hours till we hallucinated all sorts of things . I chose art history because I liked art and history so I thought it would be a combination of the two which it was at A level a little , our class was 4 people , one of whom is now the director of the national gallery .
I was not allowed to do art after 12 because I was not very good at drawing ,
What was the atmosphere like at The Courtauld at the time? Did it differ from what was happening in the London artist scene?
It was weird! , still in the old house , no one seemed to speak to each other , it did not seem to have any relationship to anything else let alone an artists scene in London to be honest , it was an island ,
You’ve collaborated with musicians ranging from the Williams-Fairey (big brass) Band to Iggy Pop. What do you think music brings that a visual interpretation wouldn’t be able to transmit, and vice versa. What is working with Iggy Pop like and how did you convince him to pose for a life drawing class? Who else would you like to collaborate with?
Well music is a good transmitter , its fun to work outside a purely visual art context too , Iggy was very keen to pose nude , I had asked him about 10 years ago and he said no , this time he agreed immediately almost, he said he was too young before ( he was 60) , he has been very gracious ,I have no wish list to work with anyone else but I am sure I will work with music/musicians again.
Many of your exhibitions include memorabilia – real or recreated – including posters, t-shirts, campaign badges etc. What personal collections do you have?
I try not to , I used to collect any old rubbish but I have been throwing stuff out of late ,
The banners, tiedye, smileys, give aways etc lend themselves well to diffusion on social media. How do you feel about this kind of fast consumption of your work? Does the seemingly democratic dispersal relate back to the original intention of the slogans you’re using?
Its good that it is out there , and yes its good for it to go back into the mess of pop culture
What’s with bats?
they are beautiful creatures , I could watch them forever
You’ve designed a bank note for the Brixton pound, organised a procession in Manchester, and created a Stonehenge bouncy castle. What’s next?
An Alice in Wonderland inspired short film of a Japanese twerker taking part in a dancehall competition in Jamaica , (this is true)
It will be in a show v close to the CI in September .