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Martin Creed: In Conversation

Posted: 03/ 9/2012 1:40 am

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For Martin Creed, best known for winning the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No 227: the lights going on and off, every space is a potential gallery -- from a pedestrian thoroughfare to an upscale restaurant.

Last year at Edinburgh festival, he paved a thoroughfare with beautiful multi-coloured marble slabs, which he called Work No 1059, a visionary piece in a public space. This year, Creed has made yet another artwork outside the confines of a gallery; this time around, at a restaurant, which he transformed into a giant sculpture.

Though some of his finest work may be housed in the country's best museums, Creed is very much a social artist who likes to produce work that enhances people's lives and that's not just meant for display. He says, "I like to make work that could survive on the street, that doesn't need to be looked after like a baby. I worry a lot about art galleries, which is the reason that I enjoy doing work in the general world."

This is the reason, he says he decided to do a revamp of the Gallery restaurant at Sketch. Using the room as his blank canvas, he splashed all four walls with vibrant colours, overlaid by 18 paintings. To add an even more eclectic feel to the interiors, the floor is laid out in a sumptuous variety of coloured, zigzagging marble blocks, Work No 1347, a homage to its Edinburgh sister, Work No 227. What brings all these disparate elements together is the thoughtful arrangement of the furniture. From the handcrafted to classics like Barnaba Fornasetti and Konstantin Grcic, no two chairs or tables, or even cutlery for that matter are the same.

Of course, the art isn't the point, according to Creed. After all, diners come here to eat and meet friends - and hopefully admire the artwork too.

We caught up with the artist to talk to him about his favourite comfort food and to get his thoughts on his work:

Do you consider what you've done at Sketch as both product design and art?
I don't think of what I do as being art. I would not call it art because I don't really know what art is. Art objects, as far as I understand them, don't have a clear function. Art seems to be totally to do with a feeling, whereas an object that has a practical function, like a doorknob for instance, seems easier on the face of it to understand.

But in reality I can't see the difference between functional and non-functional things. If you look at something and it gives you pleasure, then that's a function. I wouldn't call myself an artist and therefore I wouldn't distinguish particularly between art galleries and the world outside of them.

What kind of experience do you think people who come to your restaurant will have?
I think in an art gallery people appear to be there to look at the work, whereas in a restaurant the work is a background to the people. Actually I think this is the case in an art gallery as well, it's just not as obvious. People are the most important things in the world. Artworks are all a backdrop to people; a decoration in life. In a situation like this it's very important to remember that. It's all a background to the customers who visit the restaurant for their own reason - to eat, be with their friends and relax. Hopefully the art is nice to look at as well.

Would you say you prefer street or graffiti art to art displayed in a gallery or a museum?
I would not distinguish between different kinds of artists or people that make things, whether they're doing paintings on the street or displaying art in museums. I would never speak of high art or low art. I don't know how to distinguish between these things but I do know that I like seeing work in people's houses and living with it. I often find more pleasure looking at everyday things, like watching people on the tube, rather than viewing something in an art gallery. There are beautiful things to see everywhere.

What's the one dish that makes you truly happy?
I love all kinds of food but I think that in the morning, a coffee and a pastry would be my kind of comfort food.

 

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