Mike Gough : In Conversation
September 10, 2020
Christina Parker Gallery interviewed Mike Gough on his recent exhibition, You Are Here. Mike Gough discusses the different inspirations and meanings in his practice.
Over the last 10 years your painting has evolved with influences coming from literature, art history and personal experience. What can you tell us about that journey?
In 2009 when I first started showing with the gallery, I was working in mixed media + collage. Greatly influenced by writing, and particularly poetry, I was merging text and image transfers with abstract mark making. I continued to work this way for several years drawing inspiration from what I was reading. When I realized the limitations to my method of working I decided to move on. My transition away from collage guided me to drawing and painting exclusively to explore new ideas.
As time went on, I drifted further from the direct influences of prose and poetry and turned inward to my own experiences and memories to fuel my work. I think trusting in my drawing abilities helped me to trust that my own experiences were a valuable thing to paint from.
Where I find myself now is somewhere between memory and imagination. The images, still influenced by the Newfoundland landscape, are opportunities for escape. In that way they are a blend of experience and idealism, formalism and romanticism.
Your work isn’t overtly political but it does address the human condition, is that an accurate observation? Or how would you comment on that?
I would certainly agree with that. My work comes from my experiences and my upbringing in Newfoundland. While I try to celebrate memories from my childhood, I recognize and accept the fact that memories are not permanent. Memory is volatile and elusive and sometimes there is sadness in the images I make. The sadness may come from a place of forgetting or in knowing something will never be the same. While I don’t regard my painting as political, loud, or avant-garde, I think and I hope it connects with people who are able to see themselves in the work.
The range of contemporary art practise is broad and far reaching, are there particular artists whose work you find currently or historically meaningful?
I’ve always connected to artists who make work about experience – Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, and David Hockney to name a few. At the same time, I’m attracted to very expressive mark making like that seen in works by Cy Twombly, Heather Day and Don Wright. I also really love British painter George Shaw who paints the landscape of his upbringing – the Tile Hill housing estate in Coventry. He refers to it as a way of preserving these places and I really relate to that way of working.
What are you currently reading or listening to?
I just finished reading Crow Gulch, a book of poetry written by my cousin Douglas Walbourne-Gough (It’s fantastic!) and I’m very excited to have just started Bridget Canning’s new novel Some People’s Children. I haven’t been able to conquer listening to podcasts while I work (I become too distracted), so I rely on music to break the studio silence. My most played album at the moment is Heirloom by Kim Harris, an incredible musician who also grew up in Corner Brook. There are so many remarkable Newfoundland & Labrador writers and musicians and engaging in their work helps me feel connected to home.
Christina Parker Gallery is pleased to present You Are Here, an exhibition of mixed media paintings on panel by Mike Gough.