HXNCLUB Q&A WITH ARTIST/PHOTOGRAPHER
HXN: What was the first image you took?
MW: Oh wow I have no idea …the first I remember was on road trip around California … the classic wide-open road shot.
HXN: How would you describe yourself?
MW: Curious, Adventurous, Slow paced … enjoying the journey, not the destination
HXN: How would you describe your commercial work?
MW: Hyper colourful, energetic, candid reportage.
HXN: You have an eye for saturated colour, is that the millennial in you?
MW: No I think its more wanting to create a timeless feel like some of my photographic icons, William Eggelston, Slim Aarons and Martin Parr
HXN: Instagram has changed most creative industries, especially in the worlds of marketing and advertising – photographers, in particular, have been at the point of this shift in an era where everyone and their mother (so-as-to-speak) is a self proclaimed “genius” when it comes to taking an image – How do you feel about this, and has Instagram impacted your commercial work for better or for worse?
MW: Yes Instagram has hugely affected the commercial side of my business …. Agencies have so much more choice now and therefore the budgets keep getting smaller. Also sadly due to Instagram, I feel people don’t appreciate photography like they used to. We are overloaded with imagery ….. I even see it in myself, I no longer really find a single image that intriguing. Do you?
HXN: What came first for you in photography, commercial endeavors or art? If commercial, when did you find yourself drifting into the art side and why?
MW: In a way, I started on the art side without really knowing it, which then led me into the commercial world. I started taking pictures of friends at parties and festivals and this is how I started to get interest from commercial brands at the beginning. It was only later on that I started to move more into landscape and collage and now installations.
HXN: How would you describe your art?
HXN: Photography has fought long and hard to be considered as a legitimate art form which deserves a place alongside, painters, sculptures and visual artist, does Instagram in some way knock that long hard fight on it’s heels, in the sense that with a click, a filter, and a clever caption, Presto a photographer is born?
MW: Yes, of course, this is true but photography is the not the first art form to be affected by technology. This is the new world so we need to embrace it and hope that quality will still prevail.
HXN: I feel your art has a hyper-real feel with a serious nod to surrealism, would you say that’s a fair observation? Where does that come from?
MW: Yes I would say mainly in my collage work but I love and have been inspired by many surrealist artists especially Giorgio de Chirico.
HXN: Nature features prominently in your work, albeit bright fuchsia grass and manipulated landscapes – can you elaborate on nature as a theme?
MW: My work engages with the themes of escapism and paradise, celebrating nature’s beauty whilst at the same time reminding the viewer of our disconnect to nature which is leading us to exploit and destroy it.
HXN: What is the Billboard Creative, and will it expand beyond that one image?
MW: The Billboard Creative is an exhibition of sorts, where every year the curators select a hand full of emerging artists to exhibit their work on billboards around LA. I was lucky enough to be selected for this.
HXN: Tell me about your Bombay Biennale series
MW: I’ve been exhibiting at the BBB, an immersive art and culture festival on the shores of the Salton Sea, for the last three years now. Its been an exciting journey. 2017 the theme was ‘ What the future used to be’ and my piece was called ‘La Piscina’. My installation created out of hyper-real-life-size photo sculptures on the beach, evoked the long lost era of Hollywood chic and is symbolic of the region’s more exotic history before the town was flooded and the lake became toxic. I feel honored to be part of this exciting project and I look forward to seeing it develop going forward.
HXN: Your Utopia / Dystopia series becomes quite jarring over time – is this a comment of sorts and if so, what are you commenting on?
MW: I was interested in documenting these incredible monuments that were built by Tito to unite Yugoslavia after the war. I was drawn to their sheer size, their extraordinary shapes, and commanding simplicity. As war memorials, they were like nothing I’d ever imagined or seen but what struck me most was how much destruction it took to establish such beauty. By using colour darkroom techniques and print processes I tried to move beyond the present spectacle towards a more painterly, dreamlike state reminding the viewer of the fragile nature of the present state itself - somewhere between utopia and dystopia.
HXN: I love your collages and the Photo Sculpture series (very Storm King- ish) can you tell me a little bit about the thought process behind these works?
MW: Yes I’ve been interested in taking photography off the wall for quite a while now and into different settings and situations. I created these photo sculptures out of foam and fiberglass so they could work for inside peoples homes or equally for outdoor locations.
HXN: Your art makes use of colour on steroids (your landscapes and Colour Cornucopia series) are you in some way pushing your images into the world of painting? And if so do you ever feel the desire to explore other art disciplines?
MW: Yes for sure I'm definitely moving more in that direction as I mentioned before in my mind single image photography is feeling a little tired these days so, therefore, mixing media's is definitely the way forward. I'm also starting to spend more and more time back in the darkroom explore the world of colour printing.
HXN: What artists are you looking at right now?
MW: Funnily enough less and less photography … less traditional photography. Pretty much everything else though. Too many to name
HXN: Do you see a time when you will slip into full-time artist mode and stop with the commercial side of things?
MW: Yes, of course, commercial photography can be a little restrictive and annoying but I do like the diversity that it offers and especially the opportunity to work and collaborate with different people and brands.
HXN: Digital or film?
MW: I use Digital and Film … they both serve their purpose.
HXN: What do you love most in this world?
MW: The basics - love, food, friendship, and nature … what else does one need?