Eye Candy (40)
November 17, 2020
Eye Candy (in its guise as HILOBROW contributor Peggy Nelson) has commented before on the ubiquity of advertising, and the opportunity to reclaim its spaces for the commons, or for art, or at least for fun.
In the UK, Durham artist Peter McAdam has taken concrete steps to make this a reality, with Art Stops: a creative intervention repurposing advertising space on bus stop shelters as an outdoor gallery.
Art Stops was the product of a happy accident. Inspired by what might have been the tedium of a 3-bus journey through his local metropolitan area, McAdam creatively misread “Your ad here!” as “Your art here!”, which I think we can all agree is an unequivocal boon to the timeline.
With approval from the relevant semiotic authorities (the local council), the first Art Stops have been installed along various overland routes in and around Durham [interactive map].
McAdam, who also goes by McDada for his cartooning work, has assembled an impressive array of artists circling outwards from Northeast England, including Newcastle’s own Ben Ponton, one of the founding members of experimental music group :zoviet*france:.
Poets, data scientists, cartoonists, photographers, and many others besides, all contributed pieces either native to, or translated into, visuals that would fit on a bus stop, both in terms of size and concept. A bus stop looks like a point in space, about as specific and bounded as a place can be, but it’s actually located in time. While waiting for a bus, the stop may seem to stretch out interminably, but our perception of time is flexible, and that stretch is only a tiny part of a much longer journey, a node paradoxically defined as such by the movement one takes to pass it by. Any pause at a bus stop is as hypothetical as Heraclitus’ river, and what better to signpost the hypothetical, than art?
Further afield, painter Emma Poppy from France, kindly consented to sharing some insights into her process:
Can you describe your work and practice briefly?
It is a huge “let go”, before I start to paint I empty my mind with music usually and follow the brush.
Your pieces for Art Stops are full of colorful creatures in fantastical environments, with bold graffiti-like lines, yet seem to still be rooted in natural forms. Do you find your inspiration in nature, folklore, imagination — or elsewhere?
I discover the painting while I’m working on it and it seems very often related to my childhood, many symbols like the skulls or the eyes keep coming back and are meaningful to me.
How did you hear about Art Stops?
Peter McAdam contacted me, which I am very thankful for cause he did such a great job at throwing this street exhibition.
What do you think about this way of showing your work as compared to, say, a gallery?
I’m so pleased to have my work out on the street. This is generous art and people are taking pictures during the day or at night and sending the pictures to me since I live in France. They even start conversations about where to find our work around town. We needed to share things during the strange times and it seems that people are having a good time chasing art around town. This is amazing !!!
Do your pieces for Art Stops have a particular relationship to the pandemic, or to people’s lockdown moods or habits?
I painted those two during the first lock down here in France. I guess I needed it to cheer me up lol.
How has the pandemic affected your work? (Or has it?)
I dived into my paintings like they were my shelter … and they are. It is my first resilience tool.
You mentioned synesthesia in your on-site bio. Can you talk a little bit about how you experience that, and how it might feature in your work or practice?
Synesthesia is a strange phenomena in the brain that mixes the information related to the senses. So for me music has colors, days, emotions or words. Monday is dark green for example; Peggy is yellow :-) It seems we are 4% of the population. When I learned about my synesthesia I was surprised to know that other people don’t experience that, cause for me it’s normal.
Finally, your work seems to have a strong, yet elliptical, narrative component. Do you consider yourself a storyteller? What story(ies) are you telling for Art Stops?
I’m so happy you felt it, yes my paintings are telling stories and I even find out that the little yellow people like shapes in nearly all my paintings are the storytellers. And the best part is that it tells a different story for everyone. — Emma Poppy
In addition to visual imagery there is poetry, one of Eye Candy‘s favorite forms of nodal art. Jump over to the Art Stops artist pages for your close-up.
So hop aboard and take this virtual journey down to the end of the town, with a guarantee that, unlike James James Morrison’s mother, you will be able to navigate safely there and back.
Durham Art Stops: Durham Art Stops
Peter McAdam: @mcdada on Twitter, mcdada dot com
Artist Bios and Links: Participating Artists