In our second interview here at PEANUT SOUP DELUXE, we talk to artist Pam Glew about her upcoming Mauger Modern solo show 'Beautiful and Damned' at Blackall studios, tea and crumpets with Basquiat and magic Ninjas Turtle socks...
PSD: You're known for creating quite beautiful large scale images on fabrics. What made you decide to you decide to print on these huge scale flags?
Pam Glew: it was after 9/11, I saw flags being used in the streets of NYC - in protest and commemoration, and then I started seeing how flags were so often used around the world, it seemed to me like there was quite a lot to say about flag culture. The flags paintings I make are painted freehand with sponge and bleach which gives them more shadow and form, its really just painting in reverse, rather than painting the dark colours, I take away pigment slowly with bleach.
PSD: You also have a range of well known faces in your work ranging from different eras. Do you have a keen interest in celebrity culture?
Pam Glew: Not celebrities as such, but I am obviously interested in culture & people that are the innovators of culture. And the 'cult of the individual'. Pioneers of things, like in my next show I have portraits of Charlie Chaplin, a real hero of the silent movie age and pilots Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, they were massively brave and were the innovators of the time, and jazz stars like 'Hot Lips' Page and Kid Ory - who pressed the first black jazz record, I like people that do things and push boundaries.
PSD: Describe how your day begins when creating new work?
Pam Glew: Set alarm for about half hour before I really need to get up. Get up at 9 ish. look at i-phone, reply to emails, I might boot up the Mac and reply on a big screen if I have time, drink tea, eat cereal, gather flags, fabrics and anything thats been drying at home the night before. Walk to my studio (2 streets away so its only a few minutes walk). Music on, windows open, tea on, chat to my assistant about what's going on, have a chat, write lists, and start bleaching. I then paint all day and have breaks for emails, calls and chats with my assistant. i tend to walk home for lunch which is a nice luxury, and work afternoon until early evening. If there's a massive deadline I might work right up to 1 or 2 a.m. but it tends to be computery stuff in the evening like emails, interviews, blogs, mailouts, web stuff and twitter & facebook (which isn't really work.)
PSD: Do you prefer to work in silence or do you listen to music at the same time? Who's on your top music list?
Pam Glew: Music always, after having so crappy jobs in my 20s with no music allowed in the office i totally relish being able to listen to tunes while working. Current ipod favourites are Florence and the Machine, the Doors, Vampire Weekend and Mumford and Sons. For the latest series about the jazz age I listened to a lot of Amon Tobin and Duke Ellington to get the jazz vibe going.
PSD: If you could have tea, crumpets and a bit of a chin-wag with four artists, who would you choose?
Pam Glew: Can I bring them back from the dead? Cool, so I'd pick Jean Michel Basquiat, he was amazing, Louise Bourgeois, I massively regret not getting to meet her, Andy Warhol, although he may be a bit irritating and I would try to get Jim Morrison, not an artist but he is one of my heroes. That would be a weird party; I reckon Warhol would piss everyone off and Jim would be restless and want to get high.
PSD: Who would you say has had a major influence on you?
Pam Glew: Art wise, I get a lot out of looking at Egon Schiele, Annette Messenger, Tapies, Warhol and Rauschenberg - textural, found object based art and artists that use materials differently.
PSD: Looking on your site we've also noticed that your also very good at at drawing. Is this something we may see you do more of in the future?
Pam Glew: Thanks, yes I love drawing and have started a ridiculous project to draw on every page of an antique french dictionary. Its got about 700 pages, so thats about 350 drawings,I've been doing the 'illustrated dictionary project' for over a year and I am on the 'E's in the dictionary. So quite a way to go.
PSD: You've exhibited with all types of artists in the past, some who may be classed as "urban" or "street" artists. What's your opinion on artists being labeled? And would you consider yourself to be a particular type of artist?
Pam Glew: I think I'm Post-Pop. I'm influenced by pop artists like Rauschenberg, Warhol, Basquiat, so pop is the most obvious label. i have problems with the 'urban' statement though, its too broad, but yes I have done a lot of shows with other urban artists. I'm into Arte Povera too, that post 1960s use of old materials, really gutsy use of bold lines, textures of cement and soil and a really raw feel.
PSD: In an alternative dimension there is another Pam Glew. Except this time round Pam Glew is a dude named Sam Glew with an amazing looking beard and art is non existent. What does Sam do instead?
Pam Glew: Sam is an eco-warrior and he sorts out peoples water systems in Africa, he's a kind of engineer. He can make dams and filtering systems and build shelters. He is the man.
PSD: Have you ever almost given up on art? What made you decide to stick to it?
Pam Glew: Yeah loads of times, I think before every solo show I get to the point of having a minor nervous breakdown and consider jacking it in. I think all my close friends and family probably get bored of me saying how hard I've been working and that I'm having a breakdown. they are probably thinking 'shut up you just draw pictures'. But its just because I get so close to the work that i forget to see the world, and it can be quite obsessive, only seeing your own paintings develop and having a kind of love/ hate relationship with them. But when I'm past a deadline and stop doing crazy long hours in the studio I get a sense of reality again.
Art is what I can do best, so rather than doing something else quite badly I would much rather carry on on this path. I look back at paintings I did a few years ago, and see that there is a progression, I can paint better now than then. I used to avoid things like arms, fingers, and even strange angle because i wasn't sure i could pull it off. In my next solo show I have paintings with multiple people in them, which is a first, so a double painting, one with 3 jazz musicians and a King Olivers Jazz band- 7 musicians playing piano, drums, trombones, the whole 9 yards, I would not have done that even last year. So that keeps me interested, knowing that its getting better and better.
PSD: How do you unwind when making art starts getting on your nerves?
Pam Glew: I go shopping, meet mates for drinks, watch a movie at the cinema, or if i can take a break, I go on holiday and just drink coffee in street cafes and watch the world, take photos and then the sketchbook slowly comes out again and I get back into it. But then even when I'm on holiday I can't help but go into every little art show and little exhibition, I am visually greedy.
PSD: Tell us 3 things we may not know about you?
Pam Glew: I won first prize to design a Barbie Wedding Dress when I was 8.
I make good chutney.
I have climbed the highest mountain in SE Asia (Mount Kinabalu - 4,095 metres)
PSD: Finish the sentence "If I was queen for a day with a packet of HobNob's in pocket and a pair of magic Ninja Turtle socks, I would..."
Pam Glew: Patent the socks and get them mass produced. Then everyone would have magic ninja socks and the world would be a happy place.
PSD: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a similar career?
Pam Glew: Don't do it. Get a proper job.
PSD: Is there anything your that your working on at the moment?
Pam Glew: Yes, I've a solo show opening with Mauger Modern at Blackall Studios on Wednesday 25th May til Sunday 29 May. Its based on the 1920s, silent movies and the jazz age; decadence, party socialites and pioneers who burnt out early. I've made 15 bleached portraits, but this time on antique fabric from the 1920-30s, plus some small editions on aluminium which is a new one for me. It's a vast gallery space, with 2 floors, the original bleached portraits are upstairs and there's a show of my small & rare limited edition print runs downstairs. Its my largest and most ambitious solo show yet. 'Beautiful and Damned' at Blackall studios, Leonard Street, London, 25-29 May. (for more info see http://www.maugermodern.com)
A big thank you to Pam for the interview. For more info on Pam Glew please visit: