In preparation for the Norman Rea gallery's upcoming exhibition 'Up North', opening 25th February and running until 6th March, we have conducted interviews with some of the young Northern artists displaying their works in the exhibition.
What is your artistic schooling? If not official, how did you develop your work?
"My creative schooling primarily focused on filmmaking, from A-level Film Pre-Production, through the Film-making Society at the University of Sheffield, to a course with the National Youth Film Academy.
Visual artwork has been a passion and hobby since a very early age, and my film-making activities keep me regularly sketching, creating concept art, character and creature designs, and storyboards, as well as constantly thinking about visual composition."
In your own words, please describe your work.
"As I produce a lot of my work “on-the-go”, my main medium is conventional sketchbook paper, although I have created many ‘micro’ works on post-it notes and even the back of receipts in the past. I am actively trying to work on bigger pages and return to watercolour painting and ink drawings, though the majority of my work has been drawn with soft pencils and conventional pen ink.
I’d describe my work as surreal, dark, and even abstract in places, although I understand these are vague terms; the immediate influences that spring to mind are Giger, Bosch, Dali, and the more contemporary Brom.
While a lot of my work is cathartic on a personal level, I do truly enjoy coming up with creature designs, having been a fan of monsters and “creature feature” films all my life."
Max is also a film maker, having produced short horror, sci-fi and thriller films as well, as well as his 2019 "creature feature" film 'Jester', made as part of the National Youth Film Academy's 1K Film Challenge.
What works are you displaying in the exhibition?
"Most of the pieces I have put forward for the exhibition concern the idea of identity; both obscuring and revealing the nature of one’s self. However, there is a universally uncomfortable acknowledgment that it isn’t always clear when one is being ‘true’ or simply lying to themselves and others. Hence the masks that grow from my characters’ faces, or their underlying skeletal features emerging through.
The exception is ‘Anatomy of a Chocolate Cake’, a personal favourite to act as a light-hearted whimsical counterpoint to the more sinister works, that nonetheless represents an analytical approach to seeing through to the truth of a subject."
Concept Art via @criticalmaskpictures on Instagram
What work are you involved with now/in the future?
“I have several short films currently in pre-production. I also have one or two projects I would like to continue as a series in their own right, for which I will be creating numerous pieces of concept art.
My first feature-length film is almost finished, and I am also co-creating a dystopian graphic novel. I hope to spend more time on my artwork in the near future through standalone pieces as well as film projects.”
The exhibition runs from 25th February till 6th March, with an opening night of art 7-9pm on the 25th. Free tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/up-north-exhibition-opening-tickets-93920234951?fbclid=IwAR1zwGCIxp1TyHmZToxOvDK0hdvniMR603p_qduFm5y0558S7aAj1qv1m3c