Legato :: Peter Clark
le•ga•to :: In a manner that is smooth and connected
by Jenny Doh
Peter Clark loves paper. Even the smallest of scraps are considered as he creates truly innovative compositions that evoke an array of emotions, including humor, which he values most. London is where he lives, and the world is where he travels as he gathers, shares, and learns. I had the pleasure of visiting with Peter recently to find out more about his ideas, his work, and oh yes, his favorite word.
JD :: Tell me about the papers you collect and use. Do you find papers everywhere you look or are there just a few tried and true sources?
PC :: I collect all kinds of papers from all kinds of places. I prefer older ones (1940s and 1950s especially) because of their unvarnished qualities, colour, their used feel which gives them more character which in turn goes into my work. Sometimes I work totally with the stains and the damaged areas. In the case of maps, their various styles are appealing, although it's fun to mix styles up ... a bit like mixing sounds. The papers tend to be rather graphic with a linear quality in their imagery because then I can "draw" with them, as opposed to using photographs or flat colour.
The papers that I prefer tend to fold and tear comfortably. I find them in the street, in refuse bins, at flea markets, paper fairs, antique markets, car boot sales, anywhere and everywhere. In fact, nowhere and nothing is safe from my prying eyes!
JD :: Is there a paper you'd never use again?
PC :: No. The opposite in fact. There are papers that I find and use which I would dearly like more of as in all of my pieces I use original found scraps, so frequently I'm left without.
JD :: Your works that you classify under garments are phenomenal. In particular, the too-2-step is a piece that many women would dream of wearing in real life. Tell us about your interest in garments — both in art and real life.
PC :: I find the transient nature of fashion fascinating. I love how dress of all kinds can change the body shape. Customizing your body with clothing ... in my case paper versions ... is really interesting and good fun to do and play with. Making these items into heroes in their own right is I suppose an obvious yet appealing development. Clothes are things that have interested me always. I've been aware of them since I was a child, whether it was a dirty pair of corduroy farming pants or an apron.
JD :: You are a graduate of Manchester College or Art and Design. How is it that you found your way there? What was it like earning a degree in art and design?
PC :: I went to Manchester because of the advice given to me at school by my art master who had studied there. He recommended it to me because he thought that the graphic design school would suit me and my kind of work at the time. I also liked the idea of leaving home and moving from a country village life to a large energetic city.
I received a first class BA degree with honours in art and design. I felt good abou this obviously as it helped me get a job doing graphics in TV. The best feeling however was doing the whole course, being with people of like minds ... very exciting!
PC :: For me, it has to be fun. I attempt to use humor in several ways, like the juxtaposition of different papers (using the text) the words are very important to me and the mixing up of unlikely images/thoughts ... allowing things to play off each other. Quite often these things happen by themselves or accidentally. It's fun to do this with maps, inserting countries/cities, etc. into "wrong" places. It is a pleasure for me if people smile and their faces light up on looking at the pieces.
JD :: What's the best movie you've seen?
PC :: This is an impossible question to answer! As a young child I loved Calamity Jane and later Steve McQueen movies were a must ... then anything in French. Recently, I've loved Almodovar films and also movies that are unashmedly over-sentimental ... ones that bring a tear to the eye. But I won't name those.
JD :: What's the latest movie you've seen?
PC :: Literally the last movie that I saw was on TV and it was Gran Torino. Clint at his best.
JD :: What's your favorite song?
PC :: Too many to decide ... they change all the time like colours ... but Ain't Too Proud to Beg by the Temptations is special, though most Masterpieces by Dylan or the Felice Brothers do it, as does the work of Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, and Leonard Cohen. Memphis Jane by Buddy and Julie Miller makes me smile.
JD :: What's your favorite word?
PC :: Yes
JD :: Tell us a little bit about your book, Paperwork. What was the funnest and most challenging part of putting a book together?
PC :: It was really a potted history of my collage work so far. I think the fun came when it was completed and I saw the whole thing printed and put together. Felt good to pick it up and hold. Just to see one's work packaged up in a solid hard-backed entity was great. Perhaps the challenge was choosing which images to use, how to group them or lay them out ... I think that in the end we did a pretty good job at showing the different pieces ... detail and scale. I also loved discovering Matthew Sturgis's viewpoint of my work.
some have it some don't
JD :: Finish this sentence: "The mark I make on the world will likely be ...
PC :: ... my children Katy and Grace.
JD :: Anything else?
PC :: I tried.
Peter Clark is an artist who lives in London. All images shown here are courtesy of Peter. Learn more at www.peterclarkcollage.com, including his book titled Paperwork, which may be purchased here. Many thanks to Peter for saying yes, and for his support in making this interview happen.