Icons

Religion's mad, innit?

Such a profound statement that, but what more would you expect from someone with a mind as evolved as mine. 'Is this a post about Religion?' you may ask. Or, 'This prick hasn't updated  his blog in nearly ten months, how dare he come over all Proust.'  I couldn't blame you.

Greater and stupider men than myself have pondered the existence of a higher being, and I'm not going to join them. It's a daft conversation if you ask me. Some people believe, others don't. It's when one or the other starts forcing what they believe on the chaps in the other camp that the pie and chips hit the floor.

Have I just sorted the problem of how to achieve World Peace? I think I have.

Nah, this is about iconography. Being Greek, all houses have walls that are chock full of religious icons of some Saint or other. Some God, or whatever. They have their own sense of beauty, and are there to keep the home owner safe and watch them incase he or she does something stupid. Yes, Greeks are petrified of God, so much so that the Orthodox church has a say in the countries politics far more than any other state that I know of. They should fuck off out of it, if you ask me, but that's another story/rant.

I like icons. They remind me of when I was a nipper in Greece and give me a pang of nostalgia, but I don't have any real affinity with organised religion as such so feel a hypocrite sticking them up in my house.

I solved this problem by doing an illustration of Brian Wilson in the form of a Hellenic icon. For me, he is an icon, and the orchestral arrangements on Pet Sounds are as close to Heaven as anything I've ever heard. So perhaps religion is what you want to make of it. You believe in your way and I'll believe in mine. If you believe some fella who stands in the park with a teapot under his arm shouting at pigeons for not voting is the Messiah, I'm not one to argue. Just let me see beauty where I see it, and let's all have a hug.

So, if like me, you like the idea of having something spiritual hanging up but find the prospect of a moody, bearded man staring at you while you eat crisps on the sofa unappealing, buy one of my Brian Wilson giclee prints. Get in touch. They may help you find inner peace.

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Writers

Some years back, I was in a book shop in Edinburgh. There I spied a box of postcards containing the '100 Greatest Writers' or some such nonsense. I bought it as the photos were lovely, took out the ones I liked and dotted them about (a bookshelf, the fridge, one of Hunter S. Thompson next to my bed that I kiss every night. Only kidding. I didn't put one on the fridge), and forgot about the box.

Over a year ago I was pottering around my studio and I found the box with the remaining postcards in. A lightbulb appeared above my beautiful head. The majority of my work this year has been delving into the minds of people I respect. Having been an avid reader since I learned how to do it, it stood to reason that I'd put a series together exploring what makes the minds of the men and women who have given me, and so many others, so much.

I looked through the set and was surprised that some of my personal favourite writers weren't included. Irvine Welsh, for example, and JG Ballard. So I set about sourcing photos of the missing and added them to the existing postcards.

 Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

 Hunter S Thompson

Hunter S Thompson

I spent the next year collating ephemera that was relevant and the series is finally finished. There will inevitably a few more to add to the stable, but the 25 I have made have taken near on 18 months to complete, on and off.

Some will be for sale via Saatchi Art (when I can be arsed updating it) and I will most likely make some postcards of them for any bookshops who may be interested. further down the line, don't be surprised if you see them pasted up outside libraries and bookshops up and down the country.

The entire series is on my website under 'Recent Work'

And no, JK fuckin' Rowling isn't included. So grow up.

Trump and the KKK

Increasingly more these days, I find my work is becoming more political. I wouldn't say I'm a political artist, but it stands to reason in this tumultuous day and age politics will seep into my work. I'm happy with that.

It also stands to reason that when the world gives you someone as fuckin' ridiculous as Donald Trump, it is your duty as an artist to draw attention to what a hideous, dangerous, and demonic man he is.

So after the recent events in Charlottesville, I felt compelled to make up yet another collage of this arse-nugget. I don't think I have used one person so much in my collage work as I have Trump which, when you think about it, is tragic. Nevertheless, given what occurred that day, and the subsequent comments from the President of the Free World, I went ahead and started cutting. Here is what I did:

 The True Republican

The True Republican

A lot of my work this year has been delving into what motivates people - what goes on in their heads, so to speak. This is nothing ground-breaking - we know the man is a horrible racist. But this post is about sourcing materials for the collage.

Your bread and butter as a collage artist is your paper stock. My studio is full of old magazines, pornos, National Geographic magazines, photographs - name it and I'll have it. Getting a photo of Trump is easy. Not since Princess Diana or Dave Benson Phillips has one person been photographed so much. His official White House portrait was in a newspaper in my local coffee shop so I snaffled it, took it home and cut it out. I decided to focus on the upper part of his ball-sack, orange face, and the sinister gaze he possessed. It is worth noting how truly chilling the look in his eyes is, and on his official portrait. He holds the stance of a dictator, and I think a lot should be read into that.

Sourcing images of the KKK was a lot more difficult. I raided my filing cabinets and had nothing. I knew I wouldn't. I am of a pretty hard constitution, but refuse to have anything so vile in my house. So I went on eBay and found, rather easily I might add, some old photos of 'The Klan'. I reluctantly bought them, but felt a sense of unease in doing so. Would this look bad on some file the government have on me? Would the person selling them think I was some white supremacist? Or, worse, would he himself be a fascist and think I was part of his brotherhood? The shit you put yourself as an artist.

The photos arrived and I found the one that was perfect. It fitted, and the spikes of their ridiculous hoods made some sort of medieval crown almost. The fact all of the Klansmen are looking directly at the camera, as is Trump, was the icing on the cake, and got my message across.

As I cut them out, my mind wandered somewhat as it does. You start thinking. I looked at these people, and truly, truly hated them. I'd never met them, nor would I (hopefully, given the age of the photograph, many of them will be dead now), but you don't have to step in dog-shit to know it stinks, do you?

Once the hatred subsided, I got to a sense of fear. Although these inbred hicks probably aren't around anymore, the Klan does still exist. And I find something truly chilling about a group of people meeting up through a common, shared hatred of their fellow man, and donning ridiculous robes in a cowardly showing of unity.

What scares me more is their influence. They are in the senate, their British counterparts (although under a different name, and without this comical get-up) are all over parliament and in our pubs, and, worst of all, they have an honorary grand wizard leading the worlds largest superpower.

Anyway, if my collage didn't get the message across, here's the now legendary performance of 'Klu Klux Klan' by the incredible Steel Pulse.

Stuff in a Gallery

Just a quick one...

There's a woman down South with a potty mouth and incredibly well manicured nails. She has impeccable taste in art and, as such, has a few of my pieces din her shop for sale.

So if you're in the Leytonstone area of the smoke, pop into Laura Lea Design and have a wander.

Alternatively, you can buy online. What a world we live in, eh?

https://lauraleadesign.com/gallery

 

Studio Marbles

Although very private, I thought it'd be nice to show you my studio. Where I work, think, drink, cry, shout and (sometimes) collapse in a state of existential dread. Whenever friends come around they always want to poke around there. I've deduced they're stealing from me but there is no evidence as of yet.

My studio is like Richard Hammond - not big and not clever. It's a better driver than Hammond, and, where it behind a wheel, wouldn't crash. Unlike the afore mentioned gobshite, my studio has a lot of character to it. Let's have a look at some of the things in there, shall we?

 1. Desk

1. Desk

This came from my nan's and, in an aspect of melancholy straight out of a Hallmark movie, is the desk I used to practice drawing on as a nipper. It's teak, it's massive and can accommodate the nonsense that is my working area. Underneath is crammed full of books I have sourced from, in the main, charity shops. I'm pretty sure a family of possums has made a nest down there as well.

 2. Chair

2. Chair

I used to have a well worn, teak dining room table chair that was thinner than Sienna Miller and equally as unstable. It hurt my arse, so I was happier than a Japanese chap in a camera shop when I saw this at a vintage fair. I feel like a Bond Villain when I sit in it, and love its hideous beauty. When my wife was pregnant, it was the only chair she felt comfortable sitting in.

 3. Filing Cabinets

3. Filing Cabinets

BISLEY are the stilton cheese of filing cabinets. I picked the grey one up for about £70 at a vintage fair which was a bargain at the time. Exactly a week later I found the red one in a charity shop for £6. The red one looks better and is more stable. The grey one creaks like a Chelsea Pensioner and regularly falls over. The red one is crammed full of National Geographics, while I store cutouts and paper in the shite grey one. I stick postcards and hate mail on the side of the grey cabinet as a constant source of motivation.

 4. Atticus

4. Atticus

A few months ago, I was in a position I had dreamed of since the day I started work - I got to tell my boss to stick his job up his hole. The story of that is for another Blog post, but it now means I work exclusively from my studio which I share with my four month old son, Atticus.

I'm exceptionally lucky on so many levels here. First off, Atticus isn't like most other babies. Specifically, he isn't an annoying prick. He's chilled, happy, rarely cries and is as laid back as they come. I am privileged to be able to spend every day with this phenomenal human being, and love having him in my work space. In between feeds, playtime and his daily walk, he sits and listens to music while I work. I regularly get him on my knee and let him arse about with the paper. He's incredible, and the only way he'd disappoint me is if he grew up and got a 'proper' job. Mark my words, this beautiful little chap will change the world one day.

 5. Giant 'C'

5. Giant 'C'

I picked this up at a vintage fair with the intention of sourcing an 'U', 'T' and 'N' to complete the family. No joy, so it now sits on my floor. It originally came off a sign for a French Restaurant in France. I suppose that would just be a restaurant then, wouldn't it? Answers on a postcard.

If you do have any of the mentioned letters, get in touch. I'll swap you some art for them.

 6. Tools

6. Tools

Some tools of the trade: metal ruler, cutting mat, graphic pencils and a surgeon's scalpel. How someone with no medical training can purchase one of these is of no concern to me. They cut clean and the paper never tears. As for glue, 'TOMBOW' - it's the Jack Nicholson of glue.

The glass tortoise is called Hector. I got him from Murano and I regularly talk to him when Atticus is sleeping and I'm bored. Hector has seen me in some right states and never judges me.

The Kafka piece is part of a new series I'm doing for a show. Pretend you didn't see it, OK?

 7. Posters

7. Posters

Surround yourself with art - preferably my art so Atticus can eat. Here's some posters and prints I've got up in the studio.

I'm mad for Czech and Polish film posters, and they hang throughout my house. I love their surreal brilliance. The 'Casanova' poster designed by Marek Kosinski stares at me all day and motivates me to do better.

Top left is an Atelier Populaire print. The Mai '68 movement is a constant obsession. Aside from looking as cool as custard, they show that things can be done when people get off their arses. 

The Tom and Jerry one hangs above my lad's changing table and reminds him that the best cartoons are hand-drawn. The 'Billy Liar' poster is a slice of 60's Britain that I wish I'd have been around to see. The film is ace. I like it when he fantasises about machine gunning his family.

 8. Greek Coffee

8. Greek Coffee

Greek coffee and Sertraline is the only way to start the day. A good day will see five of these bastards pass my lips. The occasional chest pain and regular blackouts are worth it.

 9. Grandad

9. Grandad

As far as I know, my English Granddad wasn't a creative man at all. Nevertheless, he let me sit on his knee for hours drawing and colouring from as soon as I could hold a crayon. He was an incredible human and encouraged me all the way. He passed away when I was 7 and I think about him all the time. In this photo I seem to be repaying him for his kindness and support by bashing shite out of his knees with a hammer.

 10. Window Sill Stuff

10. Window Sill Stuff

Couple of little nick-nacks that make my life that little bit better. Statue of 'Cosmo Kramer' from Seinfeld, and an old figurine of everyone's favourite wife-beater, Andy Capp. Seinfeld is arguably the greatest sitcom of all-time. The TV adaptation of Andy Capp, starring James Bolam, isn't.

On another note, look at the state of those windows. The window cleaner comes once a week and is clearly doing a shite job. I must fire him.

 11. 78's

11. 78's

A little glimpse into the creative process here, kids. I got a load of 78's for free. They are unplayable so I use them to press collages. You can have that tip for free. The plant is as old as Bruce Forsyth and is clinging to life as desperately as him as well.

A glimpse of Studio Marbles (TM)

Studio Marbles - where the revolution begins and I earn just enough to pay the bills. Some artists have huge warehouses that are well lit by natural light and are paid for by their fathers. I have a tiny room full of records, hundreds of books and magazines and an adorable little chap. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Like Me As You Do exhibit at The Scandinavian Collage Museum

Scandinavia is ace. They make beautifully dark drama, have the best work to life balance on the planet and their furniture is sharper than one of Cary Grant's ties. Very much the opposite to the UK, where we have Hollyoaks, Orwellian working conditions and DFS.

It's also home to The Scandinavian Collage Museum, which is in Norway. Their latest exhibit, 'Like Me as You Do' features work from collage artists all over the globe. I'm one of them. Imagine that?

The piece I submitted is below, and can be viewed in the flesh at the museum until 26th March. If anyone's interested in buying it afterwards, fire me a message.

 

They do a little interview on all the featured artists to delve into their warped, fantastical minds.  Here's mine transcribed:

Who are you?

An illustrator, collage artist, whose work occasionally pops up around town. I have a genuine desire to put a message across whilst also making people have a giggle at the absurdity of life. We live in a truly hideous time, economically, politically and socially, and I feel art is a perfect medium to make people take stock of that. If I can be part of that in a little way then I'll have achieved something in this life.

What work do you most enjoy doing?

I fell into collage a year or so ago. I have always illustrated and printed, and found that collage worked well with my silkscreen prints. I soon realised that collage was an incredibly effective medium to create work that I want to put across. As for a style, I enjoy minimalist work as well as more complicated surrealist stuff, depending what the project is. The Pop Art movement, as well as the Punk ethos, are a continued influence.

What's your favourite collage artist or work?

The Dada artist Hannah Hoch, I feel, made collage an actual art form rather than something people did as a past time. I can look at her work for hours and always see something new. Peter Blake, Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton took the way of working with collage to a higher level. Peter Blake in particular is a different gravy. His work is consistently stunning, and he mixes media better than anyone out there.

Away from collage, I am fascinated by the Atelier Popular movement. These were a bunch of students who thought 'fuck this' and used their gift to drive forward social change whilst creating posters that are cooler than Steve McQueen's fridge.

What memorable responses have you had from your work?

Like all artists, I enjoy hearing from people who dig my work. When you get that it says that person is on your wavelength and, as such, validates what you do. I equally love offending people with my work. Similarly to the first point, whoever doesn't get it to the point of being openly offended deserves to feel like that and my art has worked again.

Before Christmas I did an art fair that happened to be in Liverpool Cathedral. Aside from some great local artists, and plenty of people who liked my work and were interesting to engage with, there were lots of craft stalls which I can't really abide. As such, there was a lot of the craft crew who would stop by my stall and make their annoyance at my stuff felt. These are the same wankers who think a 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster is edgy and looks good in their kitchen. One woman looked at my 'COCK' screen print and asked if I had permission to sell something so vulgar in a house of God. I told her that me selling a rude print would've been far from the worst think that had happened in the building.

What is your dream project?

I'm asked this a fair bit and I always give some daft answer like 'illustrating Jeremy Clarkson's execution' to hide the fact I don't actually know the answer. If I like the vibe of something I will undertake it. Without sounding sanctimonious, I take everything I do as a big project. To that end, I hope to keep on getting my work to as many people as possible and making them think, take action and laugh.

 

The exhibit runs from 25th January to 26th March.

Now is Not the Time for Generic Art

Like millions who are fortunate to own a TV, I watched the Trump inauguration yesterday. I didn't want to, knowing full well it would make the inside of my stomach lining shoot out of my arse, but my wife persuaded me. It was horrible, like watching a beloved pet drown, only with lots of plastic surgery and expensive coats.

Yesterday was a funny day. I woke up, fed my newborn son, got through some emails before taking him for a walk around the local garden centre. He liked it there. He's only two weeks old but has a sense of calm about him that can only come with being on this planet for less than a month. We then sat down together and watched a man who looks like a bad guy in a Disney Movie being effectively handed over the keys to the free world.

As this played out, I looked at my son as I heard the subtle diatribe coming from my television set, and a thought chilled my bones; there is a significant chance he would be eight years old before this maniac gives up his tenure as President. What world will this waste of skin leave for him to inherit? Indeed, will there be a world left? I exaggerate on the last point, but only slightly.

I got angry. My son could've been born into a time where the first President he remembers would have been Obama. A strong, hardworking man with ethics who, let's face it, wouldn't have had a sniff of even being in the Senate 40 years ago. I'm UK based, but watched eight years ago when he was sworn in. There was a palpable sense of hope and acknowledgement that the US had finally got it together and the world would be OK.

Yesterday's events were a different box of cheese altogether. It resembled something from an apocalyptic, dystopian novel that even Orwell or Ballard couldn't have imagined. A bloated man who looks like a condom full of satsumas preached soundbites behind bulletproof glass to a crowd of acolytes too thick to clap. Men in dark glasses stood visibly amongst the crowd looking menacing. There were lots of them.

He spoke a lot about 'God'. That seemed to get a reaction from the trailer trash women who yelped, getting wetter than Whitney Houston's last spliff as their new leader lied to them. There were a lot of cowboy hats in the crowd and camouflage jackets. Trump himself even looked bemused. His arrogant swagger seemed slightly subdued. His expression was that of a buffoon who had gone to far and now couldn't go back, like John Goodman in King Ralph. Obama looked broken, his wife angry. He must feel like Gandhi handing over the reigns to Pol Pot. All his work being irrevocably destroyed in months, and purely out of malice.

Make no mistake, this is the start of a regime. Times look dark, very dark. The leader of the biggest super power is now a man who openly mocks the disabled, is racist, and has absolutely no respect for women. He is a sex fiend with the IQ of a gibbon, and exhibits all the hallmarks of a Wall Street sociopath - like Patrick Bateman filled with butter. 

But in a sadistic way I am strangely optimistic. I have no illusions that these are difficult times, and there is a significant chance that by the time my son is being potty trained it will be in an Anderson Shelter. But I am an artist, and this is a beautiful time to be an artist. 

See, the world has lost its fucking mind. At home, we have Thatcher-Lite dismantling the NHS whilst isolating us from the Global Community when we need them most. Slags like Nigel Farage are celebrities, Hell bent on destroying the fabric of our society for personal gain. On top of all this, Gary Barlow is still alive.

However it is times like this that great art is created. Out of austerity and lack of hope comes some of the finest art this fetid rock has ever seen. It is now time for artists to earn their salt and prove their mettle.

This is not a time to produce generic art for front rooms. Quote posters and the like need to fuck off.

We have a gift, and therefore obligation, to use this arse gravy of a situation to kick against. When society is so dumbed down it is the job of the artist to inform them. When they are depressed it is down to the artist to make them smile. When they are angry the artist can help direct their hatred to the right channel. Artists have always been the alternative, truthful media. It is now more than ever that walls need to be painted, posters put up, prints made, 'zines distributed, albums recorded and plays written.

Perhaps if this happens (and I know it will) my son can grow up and have something to be proud of living through. He can look back and feel glad of the creativity and rebellion that came out of such trying times, and feel comfortable the world will be a richer and better place for it.

 'Hate' Mr. Marbles Silkscreen Print and Paper Collage on Card  

'Hate'
Mr. Marbles
Silkscreen Print and Paper Collage on Card
 

First Blog Post

My first Blog Post is simply to tell you there is fuck all on my Blog as of yet. You probably know that already though, yeah?

I've been told I need to write one though. I'm not happy about it, but as a muse and confident told me, a Blog is a good way of connecting with your audience and keeping them posted on what you are doing. It also gets people to your site so it isn't as empty as a pool party thrown by Michael Barrymore. On the contrary, what we want here is a P. Diddy pool party - with lots of bling, a rowdy crowd and French Champagne - not a body floating in the shallow end, used condoms and the reek of poppers.

What to expect here is simple: art, news from Studio Marbles and the occasional rant. There'll probably be a lot of ranting to tell you the truth. There will be a lot of swearing here. Sorry about that, I'm from a broken home. If it offends you then fuck off somewhere else.

So that's my first Blog Post. There is fuck all on here at the moment, but there will be more soon. I fuckin' promise.