DEATH AND GLORY
The title of my first solo show was more than just a subtle tweak of a much known saying, I'd invested everything I could scrimp together to open StolenSpace and spent the best part of 9 months working on the pieces to exhibit, with the time and money I had invested, I'd put everything I owned and some that I didn't into this show, in short if it didn't sell, then just as soon as we'd opened StolenSpace, we'd have to close it. I put my heart and soul into that show, just as I have done with every subsequent show I've held, pushing myself in concept, execution and medium, for this show producing my first large scale sculpture, working with visual effect artist Ben Johnson to create a life size Drone Dog crashed into a smouldering car, I thought it was the icing on the cake, we publicised the show as best we knew how to, worked with POW to produce a show print, set up the space in 24 hours and waited with baited breath to see what would happen, it was quite literally a case of Death or Glory. I remember finishing setting up the show the afternoon of the 12th October 2006, I popped round the corner to grab a beer, something to eat and take a deep breath, upon returning a few hours and beers later I was met with a queue or people lined up down Dray Walk where I'd hired the space for the show, figuring the queue was to get into the nearest bar which often held gigs or for one of the many sample sales held in the spaces on Dray Walk, I asked one of the guys in the queue who was playing (at this point, few, if any people would be able to connect my face to my work, as I'd purposefully kept my identity as guarded as I could, not because I wanted to do a Bansky, or because I'm ugly, or importantly I don't feel what I look like is relevant to my work but truthfully being the artist and gallerist is a juxtaposition that I find hard to navigate and felt anonymity worked better for both roles. To my surprise the guy patiently queuing, looked at me puzzled and said he was here for the D*Face show, it spun me out, whilst my prints had sold well and I'd sold a few pieces of work, I'd never have equated this to generating a queue to see my show, Iâ€™d only signed the first 10 of the show prints, convinced that was all, at most, we'd sell on the opening night, when a quick count of the queue went well past 50 I realised I'd better get busy signing and damage limitation suggested we should quickly hire one of the local Security guards in case disappointment turned to anger with those who didn't manage to get a print. I only mention the above details because it was a real case of us being underprepared and totally overawed, also because my signature on those show prints past number 10 is a scrawling mess of too much alcohol and no time.
I am not and nor have I ever been one to take anything for granted, my early work and the evolutions there of have been purely self indulgent, I have endeavoured to push what I do, if for no other reason than to keep myself interested, the fact that any one person likes what I do is a huge compliment and bonus, coming from a hard working DIY background where you take nothing as given, I've never taken for granted that each print I release will be as popular as the last, or any show that I produce will be as successful as the previous, whether commerce or appreciation is the driving factor for collectors I am lucky enough to live doing what I love and my first show Death & Glory was the dawn of this reality and set me firmly on that path.