On the cover: ‘Lung Mixture’ by Eelus
It feels like ‘Lung Mixture’ reflects the last quarter of 2011, and the global ‘Occupy’ movements which sprang up during it…
Eelus: If the image brings feelings of protest and defiance to you, that’s great, I love that. At the end of the day I could load an image with meaning and emotion that’s personal to me but that doesn’t necessarily mean the next person will see all that.
What did you make of the Occupy protests?
The world is so incredibly unbalanced, and I’m hardly surprised the protests went the way they did. With every year that goes by it becomes more apparent that the people living at the top of the pyramid are only really interested in looking after themselves. The way police seem to handle these situations is terrible, inciting more fear and aggression, stirring the pot.
But what do I know? I’m just one of millions of people who get my information from the media and that’s a source that I find very hard to trust. The media have proved time and time again that there’s something very odd going on with the way the news is distributed. It’s only because of the age we live in now with YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, that we’re offered a more realistic version of events from the perspective of real everyday people.
You used to be a street artist – what attracted you to it?
It’s fair to say I was attracted by the freeness of it all at the beginning, I didn’t need permission to paint and the public didn’t need to go to a gallery to see it. There are a lot of people out there who have a weird mental barrier when it comes to galleries, they don’t see themselves as ‘that kind of person’, which is mad. But the same person can walk past a picture painted on the street every morning on the way to work and it can put a smile on their face, maybe even make them start a discussion about it or want to research it, and in the process discover other artists they like.
Can street art help change the world?
Hmm, honestly, I’m not sure. It can change a person’s world for the better, for sure. Cut back to the person who hates galleries walking to work every day, maybe they have to go through some particularly rough parts of the city to get to work. Maybe these parts of the city are run-down, grey, dark, in need of regeneration. They turn a corner and there it is: a well-placed, well-executed piece of street art, breathing life and colour into the once grey and soulless environment. Beauty in the squalor.
But to change the world for the better street art will need to do much more than simply make our immediate environment more interesting to look at. And I know it’s not just about aesthetics, it gives a voice to the people and that’s great, get your message out there, let people know you’re pissed off if that’s what you want, but change takes action, not words; especially when those words have been sprayed through a piece of card on every spare bit of wall you can get your hands on. During the whole Occupy thing there were loads of stencils around Brighton where I live of the classic V / Guy Fawkes mask with slogans saying, ‘Quit your job, Fight, Occupy’. I find messages like that a bit annoying. How is me quitting my job, not earning money, losing my house and not being able to eat fighting back? Yes, the majority of us can be much more self sufficient, stronger and proactive than we are, but I think expecting people to pack it all in and run off to live off the grid in a yurt is a bit of a stretch. I know people out there have done that, but is it a practical solution for all of society? I wouldn’t have thought so. So street art can make the world a better-looking place and even possibly make people think, but I think change needs to come from elsewhere..
What is inspiring you at the moment?
I’ve been watching the starling murmuration around the piers in Brighton quite a lot, that’s pretty inspiring. Just as the sun is setting and changing colours into pinks, lilacs and oranges, thousands of black specks swarm in their giant cloud as though they’re one giant organism, connected through a hive mind.
I was also recently lucky enough to look around a medical museum in London that’s closed to the general public. It has three floors of the weirdest medical stuff you’ve ever seen. Shelf after shelf of jars containing heads, faces, arms, babies, eyeballs, everything you could possibly imagine. I found the experience quite difficult at times, I just wasn’t prepared for some of the stuff I saw in there. I found it quite profound and incredibly inspiring, it made me think a lot about the connection between the mind, body and soul. Seeing all that meat in there, shades of grey flesh, brains in jars, faces of people long gone frozen in time; I’ve always found it hard to believe that all that meat and gristle is what truly makes up a person. There has to be something more, the ‘soul’ if you like, that makes a person who he or she really is. I’m not religious at all but I find it hard to believe there’s not a lot more to all this than meets the eye, I don’t think we’re even close to truly knowing who we are or why we’re here. That’s the biggest inspiration of all for me.
See more of Eelus’ work at eelus.com and his ‘online curiosity shop’ at shop.freakshowprojects.com.
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