Interview with David Shillinglaw for ‘Dream Machine’ | Exhibition on view May 7 – May 28, 2022

Thinkspace is pleased to present David Shillinglaw’s ‘Dream Machine‘ showing in our Viewing Room. The exhibition features a series of works on canvas, paper and ceramics that present the human head as a vessel full of dreams — a flesh machine in constant flux.

David Shillinglaw is a UK-based artist, best known for his works exploring human nature, success and failure, and the language people use to describe their experiences. David’s practice shifts between the street and studio using a variety of materials and mediums, creating work that ranges from drawings and collages to large-scale murals and installations.

 In anticipation of “Dream Machine,” our interview with David Shillinglaw dives into his creative process,  the areas outside the studio he aspires to excel within, and rumination on our human experience.

Can you share a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently based?

I grew up in a north London suburb, a place called Barnet at the very end of the train line. I now live in Margate on the east coast, also the very end of the train line. I live with and share a studio with my partner who is also an artist (@lilymixe), and we have a daughter who is three years old this year.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

This show, titled ‘Dream Machine’, focuses on the human head as a container of facts, fiction, and fantasies. The mind is a deeply mysterious, ever-changing space, and I am trying to explore this space with drawing, painting, collage and ceramics. 

Most of my work is self-referential. All of the portraits are of me to some degree, but they are also you, or whoever. The age, gender, race, or background of the subject are all deliberately ambiguous and are an attempt to describe both the personal and the universal. I feel like we are all so different, and yet we are all so similar.

Drawing, painting, and sculpting the human form, especially the head, is always relevant and never boring to me. I construct forms like Frankenstein building his monster, stitching fragments and grafting pieces together until the portrait wakes up and has a life of its own. I draw inspiration from the many faces I see; people with scars, make-up, masks, gold teeth, tattoos and cosmetic surgery. I am trying to draw a line between the internal and external, the feelings and the expressions. I would say all my work is about describing space, whether it be a landscape, portrait or abstract collage, I am trying to navigate and draw maps of spaces.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

Each work is a challenge and helps me grow. I try to never repeat the same move and I am always looking for new ways to reinvent the process. In this show specifically, there are eight canvases and eight ceramic busts, and both sets of work were a challenge. I want them to stand alone but also sit well together, like a family or tribe. The challenge is to make them succeed as individual pieces but also as part of a whole. I am looking for connections and contradictions. I think I succeeded, there isn’t one piece that looks out of place for me. 

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

I am learning French (my partner is French) and I feel like I am very slowly downloading a language. I’d quite like to just wake up and know French. But I also appreciate the lengthy learning process. Like going to the gym in my mind, little by little I am growing new pathways in my brain. I also really envy people who can play musical instruments—I’d love to play the piano—so my chosen super power would be either speaking any language or playing any instrument. I think both would be very useful.

What qualities do you admire in another person you wish came easier to you? What do you believe to be a truth about our human experience?

I strive to be better at listening and learning. I talk too much, too fast and too loudly. The qualities I admire are empathy and patience. I am very impatient and hyperactive. I struggle with this, and my own challenge is to slow down and listen more.

A truth about our human experience? Whether we realize it or not, we are learning constantly, about ourselves and each other, and maybe we learn more from differences than similarities. We should celebrate differences, and cherish the opportunity to learn and grow.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

I like to be fully caffeinated. I like to tidy my space before I make a mess. Music is like fuel in the engine, and there are definitely some songs that can get me on the creative dance floor. 

Photo of David Shillinglaw in studio by Joanna Dudderidge

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

Every day is different, it all depends on what deadlines my partner and I have looming. I work a lot better at night. There’s something about the daytime that feels like it’s easier to do admin and organizing. The nighttime is when I feel free to play and explore ideas. There are fewer distractions at night, so I can relax and find my flow more easily. 

What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?

I take great pleasure in working in my sketchbook, with no endpoint or expectation. I find freedom and playfulness in a sketchbook which is difficult to recreate on a canvas or mural. I enjoy being mid-flow, having started, and no end in sight. The greatest pleasure for me is discovering something, a moment in a picture, a color combination, a certain mark or line, an abstraction, an accident. I want to be surprised. I want to see something I haven’t seen before. 

There is also a strange feeling of finishing a piece. In some ways, it’s the end of the journey, and there is a simultaneous satisfaction and sadness. I often think the end of one piece is the beginning of the next.

Who would be on the guest list if you could throw a dinner party for five people, dead or alive? What would be on the menu? What would be the ice breaker question?

Guest List: Oliver Sacks, Bill Hicks, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Carl Jung, Blindboy Boatclub

It’s a tricky question because you want a variety of personalities, but you don’t want any arguments at dinner. I think this is a group of people who inspire me and who would also enjoy each other’s company and conversation.

The menu would be a constant flow of tapas and rich snacks from around the world. We would drink cold beer, red wine and smoke hashish. We would eat outside in a place warm enough to eat and drink outside until the small hours. 

Ice breaker question? I’d ask each of them to list their five dinner guests and what would be on their menu. 

Photo of David Shillinglaw mural by Joanna Dudderidge

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 or 2021 for you?

Staying sane while the world seemed to lose its mind. Being away from family and friends. Learning how to be a parent. I think I’m lucky that as an artist it’s very normal to work in solitude for six months. The various lockdowns were difficult because of the lack of socializing, but it was no different for me professionally, in fact, I may have even got more work done. 

What big projects do you have coming up that you’d like to share more about?

I have a show currently in Portugal, the result of a month-long residency. ‘Cosmos’ is at Eritage Gallery in Lisbon, and is on until the end of May 2022. 
I am just beginning some new works after this recent trip to Portugal, and I’m excited to make a fresh body of work and see where it leads me. 

Photo of David Shillinglaw by Joanna Dudderidge

May 7, 2022 – May 28, 2022

DAVID SHILLINGLAW – Dream Machine (Viewing Room)

Opening Reception with the Artist(s):
Saturday, May 7, 2022
6:00 – 10:00 pm

Interview with Troy Lovegates for ‘Would’ | Exhibition on view May 7 – May 28, 2022

Thinkspace is thrilled to present Troy Lovegates’s latest solo show, ‘Would.’ The artist, formerly known as Other, brings his vast knowledge of street art and work with found objects to the gallery, presenting his first collection composed entirely of his intricate, hand-carved wooden sculptures.

Lovegates has carefully crafted a diverse cast of characters in the hopes that it will encourage interaction and provoke thought from viewers. The grizzled characters are sure to provoke conversation, bringing attendees together to wonder about the history and personality of each and every one.

In anticipation of “Would,” our interview with Troy Lovegates covers the inspiration derived from exploring the world around you, the opportunity that comes from unstructured creation, and how the past few years have influenced his creative development.  

Can you share a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently based?

I was raised across Canada with a little stint in Michigan … my dad was a professor and we moved quite often … Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Saskatoon on and on … currently my wife, son, and I left California and moved back to Quebec to take care of my father … sort of the middle of nowhere but close to a quiet city … between a large river and small lake.  

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

Hmmm… I would say the theme I was exploring was sanity … the last winter was another lockdown, curfew, and -30 snow storm … I am working out of an old farmhouse surrounded by wind and cold, blizzards with not much communication from the outside world … the show is almost entirely wood carvings which has been a fun place to be carving, whittling and sawing in the hinterland  

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

The challenge for me has not really been the work itself … it has mostly been missing city life and the experiences there  … seeing new things every day… watching people and getting new ideas … events happening … really for me it is probably a 4-hour ski before I even see another person … the snow is deep (and yes it is warm right now but it was still snowing last week late April) … I was more focused on skiing each day with my Dad to feel alive and outside … other than that it was mostly created in a vacuum … hard to find people to capture when they are bundled up and masked and in a hurry when I did get to town. 

You’re extremely well-traveled; your exploration of the world sometimes included train hopping and hitchhiking. How has your passion for travel informed your artistic voice? 

Travel is magical to me … part of it is that I am actually quite a terrible traveler… I am horrified of flying and get major anxiety during transit … when I arrive I am so excited to still be alive that my energy just explodes … I wouldn’t really say I am much of a train hopper as I have only gone on maybe 5 or so trips … I actually prefer hitchhiking because I like engaging with new people, fumbling over languages, getting lost … the last big trips I have been on have been long meandering bike trips which I really enjoy … yes, you take in so much more just wandering, I have struggled for ideas out here in the deep snow winters when you see the same thing day after day…refresh the eyes

What are your traveling essentials? 

Not much really … lots of t-shirts… a little container for watercolors, brushes, paper and pens … earphones … too many cameras  

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

My ritual is exercise … I think I spend more time walking and thinking or biking or skiing or swimming depending on the season … it is verging on being destructive –really like I will get the dog and head over to the studio and end up 20 km away, having just walked right by and off into though… but usually, this has worn me out and the next day I will be in the studio trying to get what I saw out on paper or wood etc.  

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days? 

Sort of same as above … I am not very good with structure. I do not arrive at the same time to the studio every day and have lunch at exactly noon each day… i might get in at 9 am or 9 pm… might spend my whole time at the studio looking up music… things happen every day but they seem to come in erratic spirts… like super intense hours where a lot gets done and then bumbling times listening to podcasts and dead ends.  

If you could collaborate with any artist in any medium (i.e. movies, music, painting), who would you collaborate with, and what would be making?

I think I would just be wandering and meeting up with photographers in cities that nobody cares to visit … exploring and taking images  

What is one of the most memorable meals you’ve had? The kind of meal that sticks with you because of the food, the company, or both.

All I can really think of is a slice of pizza in New York city … I am always really happy if I can get a lot of food for a really good deal … not really the sit in a restaurant all night with a bunch of friends and chuckle over some wine type… rather be wandering with a beer and eating cheap street food… a couple of years ago my wife and I went to South Korea and this was the perfect place to just roam and find little night markets with many different pickled spicy treats, rice cakes hot from a stand… sort of like tapas spread out across a whole city… eat a bit and wander then eat a bit more.

 If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

Oh too much … engraving … I would like to learn to engrave… better intuitive understanding of light to be quicker with my film cameras (and internal light meter)… a master at the synthesizer and drum machines… video editing… languages many many languages  

What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 or 2021 for you?

Fuck… where do I start… 2020 my mother died while we were trying to get back into Canada and stuck in quarantine… January – May 8 pm curfew in Quebec in 2021 was brutal… moving to a new place when everything was closed and nobody was on the streets… and throw in that every mural I was supposed to do was canceled and traveling just stopped… I would have to say the entire 2020-2021 was the biggest challenge.  

What big projects do you have coming up that you’d like to share more about?

I am off to Germany in a few days to meet a collaborator for a large wall in Dortmund … I am hopeful that in 2022 some of the projects that have been put on hold are actually going to happen!  

May 7, 2022 – May 28, 2022

TROY LOVEGATES – Would (Gallery II)

Opening Reception with the Artist(s):
Saturday, May 7, 2022
6:00 – 10:00 pm

CRASH ONE’s new works ‘Scripted Mirriors’ showing at Thinkspace Projects | May 7, 2022 – May 28, 2022

CRASH ONE’s ‘Scripted Memories‘ is a special collection of new small works on paper and canvas showing in Thinkspace Projects Viewing Room from May 7 through May 28.

Born John Matos in 1961, CRASH ONE was raised in the Bronx, New York. At the age of 13, he began following the older teens from his neighborhood to the train yards and began bombing. Taking the name “CRASH” after he accidentally crashed the computer in his school, his name began appearing on trains circulating all throughout New York City. By 1980, he began transitioning from train yards to galleries, he curated the ground-breaking “Graffiti Art Success for America” at Fashion MODA, helping to launch the graffiti movement that has remained very active through today. CRASH ONE’s career took off and he saw instant popularity throughout Europe and America, and eventually Asia. CRASH ONE has been part of numerous museum and gallery shows around the world focusing on Graffiti and Street Art, and has works in many permanent museum collections.

Dustin Myers’s new works ‘The Misfit Menagerie’ showing at Thinkspace Projects | May 7, 2022 – May 28, 2022

Dustin Myers’s The Misfit Menagerie showing in the viewing room of Thinkspace Projects from May 7 through May 23, brings together a collection of hyper-realistic miniature portraits created with oil paint on panel.

Dustin Myers was born and raised in Southern California and has been following his passion for painting for his entire life. He has been drawing and painting since he was a boy and spent a lot of time at his family’s auto body shop where he developed an appreciation for color and paint. Myers spends most of his time painting, and the rest of the time he enjoys teaching and cooking. His paintings blend his many interests, which include mythology, philosophy, and religion.

David Shillinglaw’s new works ‘Dream Machine’ showing at Thinkspace Projects | May 7, 2022 – May 28, 2022

David Shillinglaw’s ‘Dream Machine‘ showing in the Thinkspace Projects Viewing Room will feature a series of works on canvas, paper and ceramics that present the human head as a vessel full of dreams, a flesh machine in constant flux.

These paintings and sculptures play with the human form. Shillinglaw invites you to find yourself or someone you know in these twisted and colourful characters. Part hieroglyphic beast, part comic book hero, the works pop with humour and naive charm. A mix of modern and ancient, the sensitive and brutal, the personal and universal.

David Shillinglaw is a UK-based artist, best known for his works exploring human nature, success and failure, and the language people use to describe their experiences. David’s practice shifts between the street and studio using a variety of materials and mediums, creating work that ranges from drawings and collages to large-scale murals and installations. Shillinglaw lives and works in Margate, UK

“As an artist, David wrestles with this equilibrium of order and disorder. He has returned numerous times to the Carl Jung quote: “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” His works speak of our all-consuming journey to figure out some form of neat structure. But they also suggest that we will never fully understand the world around us, and that is where the real meaning lies.

These works confront the restrictive framework that is often applied to human life, leading to rigid definitions of gender, personality type and identity. David’s portraits pull away the calm and singular facades that many people walk around with and return the human to its innately complicated, beautiful self. These portraits do away with the binaries typically used to understand humanity and offer a more open-minded, compassionate view. These figures are allowed to be exactly as they are, jumbled but whole.”

-Emily Steer (extract from the introduction to Relax, The Universe Is Expanding)