June's Artist of the Month, Mista Fig, follows an inner voice. His work is mainly figurative, with his influences rooted in his own personal experiences. A storyteller, he expresses himself through sculpture, exploring ideas using a variety of media.
When and how did your interest in art develop?
From memory, when I was a kid, I would spend time in my grandparents’ backyard, eagerly awaiting their delivery of coal and wood. When it arrived, I would set about constructing things, interpreting shapes, retreating into my fantasy world.
What influences your art?
What I see around me, the visual and the written word. Everything I experience gets translated into some form of sculpture. This enables me to deal with things and make sense of life.
What process do you go through when you are creating a piece? (Starting with the initial idea)
It depends whether it is a ‘feast or famine’ time in my head. Generally the creativity is jolted by something I see, hear or feel. This begins to metamorphasize. Then I look around for what materials are needed to create the new series.
Transfixing on a thought, I visualise a theme and continue until I feel exhausted by it or, another idea replaces it. This is my reason for concentrating on a specific medium; perhaps 20 carvings from Bog Oak (centuries old fossilized wood) or 30 figures, their differing forms originating from Herculite plaster – resulting in the series ‘Hookers and Lookers’ and ‘Girls on Tour.’
What artists, if any, have you drawn inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from life itself, not another artist’s opinion of it. So, while I am aware of all the creativity around me, I try not to let it in too much, in case it pollutes my train of thought. I must admit though, I do enjoy a Modigliani every now and then!
Do you have a favourite piece? If so, which one and why?
The next piece I make! If I have the ideas then it feels exciting to begin exploring the unexplored.
What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
A smile! I ask for a moment of their time, a reaction of some sort.
Each piece is a little story, waiting to be explored. I hope that the narrative is apparent to the viewer.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career?
That my next piece of work will get me further up the mountain called ‘Mista Fig.’
Also, meeting and spending time with the late, great Outa Lappies, an artist that followed his own voice and not the voice of others.
Has being a part of Outside In been beneficial for you ? If so, how?
Outside In has helped return my self-belief. I now feel involved and included, not such a lone voice and so isolated. It has given me the opportunity to communicate with like-minded people, via the website and also in person.
The initial turning point was being invited by Jennifer Gilbert, the Outside In Manager, to exhibit some sculptures from my ‘Hookers and Lookers’ series, at the show ‘Epiphanies – Secrets of Outsider Art’ at the Conference Centre, St Pancras Hospital, London, in 2013. And now I have been selected as Artist of the Month. I feel very fortunate.
What is next for you as an artist?
I am working on my people that live under glass domes – ‘The Untouchables.’ They are something that can be seen, not touched, because they are sealed within their domes.
This excites me greatly, the knowledge that something is out of reach. Human nature inevitably seems to want to touch something, when told not to.
‘The Untouchables’ is an on-going project, but when some are completed, I will upload photographs to my Outside In gallery.
You can see more of Mista Fig's work by clicking here