Mick Gill is head of art at Merchant Taylors' Girls' School in Crosby. There he has set up The Vitreum, a gallery which has shown the work of well-established local artists, such as Mike Badger, and which is establishing a reputation of showing high-quality and accessible works.
At the private view of his exhibition, currently on show at the Unity Theatre, he sold more than a quarter of his work on the night.
This is his first solo show in his home town of Liverpool. In the last year he has been part of a variety of group exhibitions showing in Ye Cracke and with Dot-Art. Mick graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 1997 where he was taught by leading artists such as Matta and Albert Irvin.Mersey Son
So you don't just teach then?
Having become involved with other artists through my work at Merchant Taylors' School and those who have exhibited at The Vitreu, I felt prompted to do something extra. Thus I galvanised the current group of paintings at the Unity".
What inspires you?
Experiences: both real and imagined and informed by fiction, poetry, films and music. The atmospheric work of The Bunnymen, for instance, that gave rise to Zimbo.
"I love all kinds of art from African masks to natural objects. As a painter I’m influenced by artists like Goya and Giacometti. I’ve always been pulled in different directions with both formal abstraction and social conscience!"ResurrectionZimbo
What is your work about?
"The paintings are powerful dramas but also, I hope, life affirming. The process of layering images and colours is important. The River Mersey and an Irish / Liverpool background provide recurring themes which inform my creative consciousness."
How do you work?
"Undertaking each painting is an epic journey. I don't set out to paint an idea or an image; it arises and unfolds. The painting may appear to be abstract but actually there is much figuration in there, and space for the viewer to interpret it their own way."
How did this show arise?
"I wanted to show at The Unity because it's a public venue I visit regularly, in a great part of town. It's a theatre so you reach a different audience; the main point of art is to communicate.
What can we expect?
There are 27 paintings in the show; it feels like I’ve achieved a body of work like a great album or poetry collection; the works relate to each other. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about paintings like Resurrection - a mysterious but loaded image. It shows how to get through the toughest things."
Mersey Son captures the atmosphere from an aerial viewpoint of the city, and is emblematic of who we are, and the times we live in. In all the work, personal and political worlds collide. My favourite is a small work, Magic Kingdom. Lyrical, atmospheric paintings like that don’t happen very often. It’s my Killing Moon.
*Mick Gill: Paintings, Unity Theatre, Hope Place, Liverpool 1, until May 29, 2010
Interview by Gayna Rose Madder
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