27th – 29th AUGUST 2021
1 GREAT FESTIVAL
MEET OUR ARTIST IN RESIDENCE: PETE MARSH
“Working as Artist In Residence at The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival excites me because the line-up is impressive and varied. The event not only gives me opportunities to produce more work of familiar faces but also fresh work of musicians I have yet to commit to canvas”.
Pete will return as our Artist In Residence at the 2021 event. Here we talk to him about the Black Country, Iris Murdock and jazz.
Q: Describe your route to becoming an artist.
A: I left school at 16 years of age and by 22 I had worked in about twenty five different jobs, travelled Europe and Scandinavia and ended up labouring in a steel foundry in the Black Country. My girlfriend at that time, Diane, was a medical student at Birmingham University and she introduced me to her father who was a very gifted “Sunday painter” whose day-job was at the local car factory. We showed each other our artwork and he told me that I should not waste my talent . I took his advice, applied for a place on a (pre-degree) Art Foundation course and subsequently graduated in Fine Art: Painting and Printmaking at Sheffield Polytechnic in 1982.
Q: Do you use mediums other than paint?
A: Yes, printmaking forms a significant part of my oeuvre, utilising etching, dry-point, mono-print and lino-cut. Crucially, drawing has always formed an important aspect of my work. I sometimes sketch in the landscape using pencils or charcoal but Bic pens are my first choice when sketching musicians. I prefer to work live with a medium nib black Bic ballpoint pen on Wire-O sketchbooks. There is an expressive immediacy to ballpoint when making rapid sketches of moving musicians.
Q: Who and/or what inspires you?
A: The ‘Who?’ list is enormous and is always being added to! If pressed to name five artists I would currently list, Rembrandt, Titian, Corot, Delacroix and Arthur Streeton. The ‘What?’ part of the question is more difficult to put into words but I suppose the atmospheric quality of light, be it natural (in my landscape work) or artificial (as in my live performance inspired work), is a constant source of inspiration.
Q: What does your perfect day look like?
A: Painting in my studio until just after lunch, sketching live during a sound-check in the late afternoon and attending the concert during the evening. On arrival back home, there may be just too much temptation to tweak some of the sketches in my sketchbook and to glance at photographs taken during the gig with the view to include certain aspects of them into a painting.
Q: Please tell us one thing we may not know about you.
A: One of my favourite authors is Iris Murdoch.
Q: Can you remember when and why you fell in love with music?
A: I suppose this was at a very young age as we did not have a television for the early part of my childhood and my parents listened to Jazz and Classical music. An enduring interest in both of these genres has remained with me.
Q: What was the first gig you attended and how old were you?
A: When I was about 14 or 15 years of age, fellow Midlanders, Slade performed at my school “disco”. The first gig that I paid to see was probably The Four Tops at Birmingham Odeon when I was 16 years old.
Q: What’s been the most memorable time of your career?
A: Without doubt, the present.
Q: What was your favourite gig/show to attend and why?
A: This is absolutely impossible to decide. Nonetheless one of the most remarkable gigs was during the mid 1980’s when I worked as a member of the stage crew at two music venues in Manchester, The International and Manchester Apollo. I have never been into Queen… however, I worked on Queen’s gig at Manchester City’s Maine Road Stadium. I am so pleased that I saw Freddie Mercury, as his stage presence was extraordinary and unforgettable.
Q: Describe your creative journey in 5 words.
A: Stuttering, modest, unpredictable, consuming and fulfilling.
Find out more about Pete and his work here: www.petemarshart.co.uk