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Where are you from?
I’m from Worcester, a small Cathedral city in the Midlands near Birmingham. It’s the epitome of England in many ways, with all its shades of grey, pleasant enough with a nice river and plenty of scallies. I guess for me it was a bit boring – whatever was going to happen had already happened.
How would you describe your art?
I’d say it is the simplist, most boiled down possible way I have found to say what I want to say. Vague as that is, to try and represent it in prose so people can imagine what it looks like I’d say it is cartoon like drawings with a range of influences also manifest, including expressionism, graffiti styles, adverts, and doodlings. A lot of it is purely writing, and most of it is my imagining of a childlike deranged mind processing the world. I suppose it’s a way of removing the barriers and processes we develop and using that as a lens to see the world. It’s meant to be funny, but also to have a kind of off-hand profoundness.
At its essence though, it is intended to start a conversation with a viewer (rather than dictating) – the terms of engagement are the viewers as much as mine, which is why I’d always encourage people to see it for themselves and make their own decisions on what it is or isn’t.
You called your collection “Mountains of Light.” What does that refer to?
‘Mountains of Light’ is a reference to people. The book is about relationships, both how people interact with each other and also how we interact with the world around us. The idea is that we only see the tip of what we really are poking above the sea level, and no matter how tall the mountain reaches it is still linked to all the others via the sea bed, i.e no man is an island you could say. The Light part is about the preciousness of individuality and effervescence of humanity – ‘we are luminous beings, not this crude matter’ (Yoda, Return of the Jedi)
Your site includes a “manifesto” section. How would you describe that?
It depends which manifesto you mean! The first one you come across is I think the most honest (as abstractions tend to be) and to the point – the message should be ‘take as you find’ really. It’s also a kind of a send up of manifestos in general which generally tend to get betrayed by the people who write them – if you’ve ever seen Banksy’s or The Communists’ you’ll know that! Plus I genuinely am made from flesh, living in a house and I like jumping on beds.
The one past that (the biography) is I think a fairly standard self assessment and not nearly as fun or thought provoking.
What are your influences?
I think I have alot influences. I have always been fascinated by the art of young children and the honesty they hold. Also graffiti styles and expressionist artists like Basquiat or Francis Bacon. I generally love all forms of cartooning and graphic novels and in particular Chris Ware. Also Morrissey and Knut Hamsen and anyone who tries to look at the non remarkable to find poignancy. Also David Shrigley whom I love and Cormack McCarthy (writing style wise) and the gibbering of simpletons. I guess I like people who try to see with a fresh perspective – I teach a boy I’m fairly sure is autistic (Korea is loath to approach this) and his mind is one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever peeked into, through the things he says.
Who would be on your superhero team?
Is that a dream Superhero Team to A) protect the Universe or B) play instead of England at the World Cup? If it’s a superhero team to protect the world I would have The Tic, Earthworm Jim, Bananaman and Inspector Gadget with Batman as their leader just to see how that would all pan out. There’s also a hero I invented a while ago called the Mug who’s just a mug with no special powers at all, he’d be bad ass. But if you want a serious answer then clearly Phoenix can take on all comers on her own, unless she gets in a scrap with Green Lantern or Doctor Who – there are just too many, I’ll just have me and my cat Megatron (are pets allowed?).
If it’s option B then I reject the question and refuse to comment as I try to ignore any and all forms of organised sports apart from WWE Wrestling, however I’m sure it wouldn’t take much to assemble a group that would do better than we always seem to do (I’d recommend the home for the blind, infirm and mentally disadvantaged or infirm as a recruiting ground).
That was a great question.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
I’d have Jason Statham of Brad Pitt or someone sexy like that for bravado, but actually I’d have had Rik Mayall and I think dying was an over the top way to avoid the gig. If you ask my students then just any old dickhead, if you ask my close friends then probably Ade Edmonson.
Where do you see yourself in five year’s time?
In 5 years time I genuinely have no idea. I have goals but that’s not the same as who or where I’ll be – I hope is as unpredictable as where I am now would be to me 5 years ago. All I ask is that I’m still travelling and making artwork. And a millionaire. And famous.
You can see more of Lawrence’s work on his official site and his Facebook page.