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Gallery September Issue 9

ÂŁ4.50

Art Not as we know it. Interview with Steve Mcpherson.

Art in fashion, music and society. Gallery reviews. Post Graduate Art.


Steve Mcpherson Marine Plastic Artwork Gallery’s Katy Little has a chat with 38-year old Steve Mcpherson to find out what life is like as a colour-blind artist, what his work is really about and where his inspiration comes from.


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lastic is not the sort of material most people would associate with art, but something many may recycle, however that’s exactly what Steve Mcpherson does. By recycling plastic that can be found on beaches all over the world, art lecturer Steve turns them into extraordinary works of art: Marine Plastic Artwork. Growing up in the early eighties, and being the proud collector of something was always very fashionable. Steve grew up surrounded by so many collecting fads, and his first stamp collection marked the beginning of a well crafted love affair, enabling Steve to combine his love for all things old and his passion for art. “My brother and I collected everything from stamps to rubbers, and since then I have always been a religious collector. I love collecting old items because they have so many stories behind them.” Living so close to the beach, his collections soon progressed from just stamps and rubbers to more exciting commodities. Steve started collecting plastic debris found on beaches over twenty years ago, and has been recording what he found in his diaries or journals ever since. “For the last four years I’ve been creating my Marine Plastic artwork, collecting and making pieces from the detritus of modern life which washes up on the beaches of Thanet. I find thousands of bread tags or swizzle sticks from pleasure-cruisers and they all

“For the last four years I’ve been creating my

Marine Plastic Artwork,

collecting and making pieces from the detritus of modern life which washes up on the beaches of Thanet.”

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Phtography by Steve Mcpherson


influence. “I am inspired by a whole load of different things. I get inspired by music, science, and every thing around me. I am also very inspired by Mark Dion. He was the artist that did the Thames dig. He literally had a whole group of people combing the Thames and displayed what he found in the Tate. I just love his work.” Hidden meanings are what give art stories, and as an artist this truly represents Steve’s aesthetic. “While my work is interesting to look at, there is an underlying truth about each object. My work deals with questions of truth in a non-obvious way. I give the items I find scenarios, why they were lost, who lost them. A little bit of history connected to each piece. The potential truth questioning archeology and musicology. “Truth constantly changes, historical facts shift depending on what we want. It becomes an interpretation of other peoples beliefs.” By recycling the raw materials that he comes across on beaches, Steve’s artwork has an eco side to it as well. “The fact that there is so much plastic on the beaches is horrendous. The eco aspect does get people more interested in my work. The sun and ultra-violet

“I give the items I find scenarios.”

concepts. He uses this inspiration to forward his ideas and ending up with the extraordinary Marine Plastic Artwork. Inspiration is the key to the Marine Plastic artwork. Although he is inspired by many things, one artist in particular is a massive 16

Phtography by Steve Mcpherson

form part of a story.” The inspiration behind the idea of collecting plastic objects from beaches comes from his love for nostalgia and story. “All these objects I collect are from people somewhere. They have been touched by someone, and to get that piece of plastic from the beach into my hands is remarkable. “The huge chain of events one piece of plastic goes on, from Importing the oil, exporting it, moving raw materials and the making of the object. Thousands of people have been involved in getting that one object to the beach that I go to. “Plastic has only been massproduced in millions of tones since the middle of the last century, and what we see is a history of those decades – what we did and what we used. Steve’s work is surrounded by the idea of a journey, and how things connect so many people. “The sea connects every one, and these plastic objects that I find virtually connect every one in a manufacturing way. One piece of plastic could be dropped at one beach and end up at another. It can sit in the sea for years and years before it is spat out onto the beach.” Steve is inspired by many different


Year Sampler (Grid)

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I tend to stay true to my self. If I say it’s green it’s green.

light degrades plastic, but that takes a very long time, so by doing my bit and making use of what I find does help the environment.” Steve found out he was colour blind when he was at primary school. He recalls being severely told off for colouring the grass of a picture orange. As a colourblind artist, Steve sometimes finds it frustrating when specifically working with one colour, but he is starting to stick to his true aesthetic using objects he believes are certain colours. Judging by the work displayed where he has chosen the colours himself, has really worked to his advantage. “Sometimes it can be quite frustrating but I have learnt to deal with it. When I am working with specific colours, sometimes my wife will sort them out into colour piles so it makes my life a lot easier. “Leaving the colours how I see them continues the truth and perception around my work, allowing people to question the truth. Because the colours I see are the version of my reality it gives my work a hidden meaning. “I tend to stay true to myself. If I say it’s green it’s green. My attitude towards what other people could think about my work has changed. If they don’t like what they see, they will just have to deal with it. G 17


Kathryn Little