Artist interview between Shannon Skye Robinson and Lois Emma Harkin (Curating Futures Project Coordinator), and Pete Mountford (Curating Futures Artist).
* Warning, mature content- nudity *
Date of Interview: 20th of December 2021
Participants: Shannon Skye Robinson (SSR) and Lois Emma Harkin (LEH) and Pete Mountford (PM)
SSR/LEH: What is your background?
PM: Born and grew up in South London . I worked in a variety of jobs until I was 26
before commencing my Art Education on courses at various London Colleges. I
initially studied and practised in ceramics taking my BDes at Duncan of Jordanstone (Dundee) and I had the opportunity to study for my MA in the USA at Montclair State University in NJ, whilst also undertaking a role as a Graduate Assistant. My work of this whole period was fascinated by the city and Americana. I gravitated to 2D work and painting/ mixed media in around 1999-2000
SSR/LEH: How did you get into art/ creativity?
PM. I had enjoyed art at school , but I got swept up in the whole Punk/post punk
movement of the mid 1970’s and started working to earn money to fuel those
interests via records, gigs, clothes etc. Creativity came out via that and i had
aspirations to write and it was via my work with a new magazine (FSM) in the
mid 1980’s that i began designing fundraising posters, Together with being made
redundant from my job around then, I started the aforementioned Art classes
that led me on the path to becoming an Artist.
Artwork produced by Pete Mountford
SSR/LEH: What do you get out of producing work?
PM: I think it’s the only thing I do , in which time is no issue. By that I mean that
when i’m really engaged with making something, two/three hours can go by without realising. So that base level of fulfilment is a key principle for me. Despite all the external pressures that the pandemic and lockdown caused, the ability to be able to go up to the studio (i’m fortunate that I have one of those at home these days) and lose myself in my work for sustained periods of time took me back to my Art school days.
Artwork produced by Pete Mountford
SSR/LEH: How do you want your work to be perceived by an audience?
PM: I think the balance between the visual impact and the desire for the viewer to be
encouraged to unpick at the layers of ideas in concepts I have applied to them is
the perfect equilibrium when a piece works really well. Having said that, I don’t
always mind if the viewer comes up with their own interpretation of something
i’ve created, as Marcel Duchamp famously said-: “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.”
(Marcel Duchamp – 1957)
SSR/LEH: Who are your biggest inspirations?
PM: I’ve already mentioned Duchamp , I’m not so influenced by the more conceptual end of Duchamp’s output ( I think a lot of modern disciples miss his point and humour completely), but more by his life and his attitude to it and what it opened up for others. With this point in mind, the bridge from his work very clearly influenced two of my favourite Artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns who have inspired me both aesthetically and conceptually for their willingness to break boundaries of mixing media and loading an image to mean different things when presented in a multitude of ways. Another big influence on my use of multi panels in works is Jennifer Bartlett, in particular her ‘Rhapsody’ installation of nearly 1000 panels from 1976.
SSR/LEH: What are the main concepts or themes you explore within your work?
PM: Since the turn of the millennium period - referred to earlier - my work has gone through many phases of both abstract and realist themes and several points that straddle both. Maps and topography have been a recurring theme over the years and still are. Key concepts that underpin the work include ‘system and chance’ where I enjoy the duality of having a defined structure to operate within whilst being able to, load images with different
meanings, and also utilising multiple panels in a work to create a cognitive dialogue between different elements. Since relocating to Brighton in 2014, I responded to my place in the city and recorded glimpses of the environment as seen fleetingly down a street towards the sea or through a porthole. The last 2 years has seen me respond to the socio political world around us such as the so called ‘Culture wars’ created by Brexit ,
‘Trumpism’ and the effect of Covid on all of our lives.
SSR/LEH: What is the main thing you have learnt through your creative practice?
PM: To let the process unfold and go with what feels right. I primarily refer to myself as a mixed media artist,not least of all because in a lot of cases, when I begin a new piece - or series of pieces - I don’t actually know what media will end up in there. I work in certain cases fairly spontaneously and these decisions can just ‘arrive’ at times.
SSR/LEH: Who is your work for? Yourself? A small community? A specific sector of society? Or is it for everyone?
PM: Ultimately it’s for both myself and everyone at the same time. I’ve gone through
phases of making work for galleries to try and drive sales and although this has partly worked sometimes it ultimately proved unfulfilling . So now it’s for me but it’s 'of' the world and its always the best when the viewer sees and understands more as time goes on.
SSR/LEH: What is the best piece of advice you could give to another artist, or someone just starting out in the creative sector?
PM: Be committed, its hard enough as it is without this.
SSR/LEH: Why did you decide to join the Curating Futures community?
PM: It seemed a great opportunity for ongoing exposure and debate within a
You can find Pete Mountford via his Instagram