Artist Focus: Paul Raymond

Can you describe your work in a few words?

I make artwork in a variety of media ranging from assemblage pieces, site-specific installation and lo-tech kinetic sculpture - to drawing, collage, video, sound and performance works. My most recent project has taken the form of a shambolic performance art cover band / art collective called ‘Stabbing Les’. As a group, we have curated exhibitions, hosted performance events and created a cassette based artwork archive featuring the work of a number of contemporary artists in the UK.

How do you find a balance between teaching and making art?

I think that it’s absolutely vital to find some kind of balance in order to function properly in any of my roles. I currently teach part-time in two different schools, I work with a group of home-educated students and I deliver workshops to adults and children. I suppose I see all of these roles as being part of my overall ‘creative practice’ and I feel like these separate strands all feed into one another. However, it is really important for me to set regular time aside for making my own personal artwork - either alone in my studio or through collaboration with others.

What inspires you?

I am hugely inspired by the people around me and the networks I am associated with. I am constantly inspired by the amazing and creative artists & teachers I work with in the North East. Inspiration can come from anywhere but I find that the most interesting work comes from sharing good practice and discussing ideas …whether that is through formal presentations & lectures, informal skills & ideas sharing sessions or through discussions in the pub.

Which material could you not live without?

My work is quite diverse in terms of the materials and methods I use. The common factor is usually some form of appropriation of objects or the deconstruction / reconstruction of materials. There is not a particular ‘thing’ that I couldn’t live without as I believe art can be made from absolutely anything at all.

What would your dream project be?

My dream project would be something on a huge scale involving a combination of performances and interactive exhibitions. I was really disappointed that I didn’t make it to see Banky’s ‘Dismaland’ in Weston-super-Mare last year as the idea of a subversive art theme park is very appealing. Some of the most memorable exhibitions I have visited have had clever interactive elements such as Michael Landy’s ‘Saints Alive’ at the National Gallery a few years ago. He created these violent self-flagellating kinetic sculptures of Christian Saints which were powered by visitors stepping on pressure pads. I also loved Doug Fishbone’s ‘Leisureland Golf’ which I visited recently at Derby’s Quad gallery space. This was a crazy golf course in which artists had designed playable holes parodying the leisure industry and highlighting a number of important social issues. I don’t necessarily think that all exhibitions have to be interactive – but my inner child definitely craves a bit of excitement, sensationalism and FUN!!!    

How does your creative process work and what’s the best piece of creative advice you’ve been given?

The best piece of advice I was ever given was something along the lines of “creativity doesn’t always just happen; you need to work at it”. I can’t remember the exact words but a friend offered this advice at the start of my final year of university when I had hit a bit of a creative wall. It’s pretty obvious advice when you think about it, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the “struggle” of making artwork. I find that it’s often more difficult to come up with ideas and to develop them in isolation which is why I believe that collaborative practice is so important.

My creative process generally involves working with others. I am very lucky to be part of the North East Artist Teacher and Educator Network (NEATEN) which provides a platform for sharing educational ideas, skills and knowledge as well as being a very welcoming social network. I collaborate with a variety of artists in my personal practice and I also love being part of Sketchbook Circle and having the opportunity to have a visual conversation with other creative people around the country.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am currently reading ‘Truth or Dare? – The Politics of Parafiction Art’ edited by Keren Goldberg. It is about the creation of fake narratives, fictitious historical personas and imaginary situations as artistic acts.