Sam’s work is an exploration of texture and colour. It reminds me of the gritty city areas I like to photograph – the peeling paint, the rusty buildings, the areas that are slightly run down and dilapidated. There’s a certain beauty in the decay, hiding volumes of stories from the lives that have passed through. There are stories in Sam’s art as well. He builds layers upon layers, mixing industrial materials with the more organic, everyday ingredients of life, creating colours from pigments drawn from coffee grounds and demerara sugar. In August, he’ll be involved in a joint exhibition of work with Roy’s People in the new Seven Dial’s Cafe inside Timberyard in London’s Covent Garden.
LO: Hi Sam. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
SP: Hi Stephanie. I’m originally from a town called Rugby, known for its cement, high concentration of pubs and radio station (now declassified). My home is with my family in Wimbledon, I’m a midlander through and through. I was a teacher, but circumstances in one’s life can alter your perspectives, so now art is my work full-time.
LO: You’re exhibiting work this August with Roy’s People. Where and when is the exhibition and what can we expect?
SP: The exhibition is opening on Wednesday, August 6th at The Timberyard in Covent Garden. You can expect some epic abstracted landscapes from me. You will have to ask Roy what he’s showing. Eleni will curate the show. She is organising the event alongside the Timberyard. It’s a good space with lots of corners and angles. This won’t be the last time you see us two working together either. We are both represented by the Curious Duke Gallery, so that helps. We talk about art a lot. The show represents where we are at this point in time.
LO: If you didn’t have an example to show to someone you just met, how would you describe your work to them?
SP: I use steel primarily as a template to work on as this conveys heat. Materials are all referenced and not a random event and are, I guess, a nightmare vision of what we all might inherit. Colours and textures are combined. Two main colours are split with a dividing line. Reds are always the easiest colour to work alongside. Blues take a long time to get used to as far as my work goes.
LO: How have your travels influenced your art?
SP: They do so enormously. My first solo show was in Sydney, Australia. It was all based around arid landscapes, burned environments and the Victorian architecture crumbling underneath new investment. Australia has always held a great place in my heart. My wife is from a town called Blaxland. I do a lot of work when I’m there, mentally and physically. Bush walks are everything to me over there. We carried on the Australia theme into the London solo show last year at the Curious Duke Gallery where we exhibited a series of unseen landscapes, directly linked to the parts of the landscape you have to dig out and find. We had been planning it the best part of the year.
LO: When did you first start painting and why? How has your style changed over the years?
SP: I was awful academically. There was too much going on in my head. I had a total inability to concentrate. This followed me right through uni….I think this answer is too truthful all of a sudden. The best experience of painting besides in my studio was doing BTEC Art and Design course at Rugby College. That course is for everyone. I’m an advocate of post 16. It was my field for years as a teacher. It can become salvation if taught and nurtured correctly.
Why do I paint? Does anyone really know why? Can anyone honestly say why they paint? It’s the best thing next to having a family that I ever did.
The material consistently evolves without ever really changing. I like the use of fire and heat and making something with my hands that people can admire and talk about. Most of these people I’ll never meet. I have fallen in and out of love with art more times that I’ve broken bones. Before all this started, I played drums for a living and worked in a pub, so it’s a constant evolution.
LO: What materials do you use in your painting? What has been the most unusual? Is there something you have in mind that you’d like to experiment with sometime?
SP: I’ll let you in on a secret. Am working with lead and gold at the moment. All under wraps. Nothing is that unusual anymore. The liquorice seems to get people discussing more than most. I’m probably known for burning coffee too.
LO: How do you start your day? And what do you do to wind down in the evening?
SP: With my girls. I’m a modern man and take my daughter to school. I kiss my wife and tell her I love her, checklist everything for work and I’m in the studio by 9.30 working solidly and alone until 2.30pm. I keep the fire at bay. Then I’m off to collect my daughter from school. I make dinner, play with Barbie dolls, then do all the bedtime routine stuff. Then I have some time to spend with my wife and read.
LO: Share three little everyday things that make you happy.
SP: Apart from being with my family, creating a good colour from scratch. And I know it sounds a bit sad, but getting a pasta sauce correct. And Franziskaner beer.
LO: As an artist, you’re constantly stimulated visually, but what inspires your other senses?
Taste: Italian food
Sound: Musical scores. Everything from Howard Shore to Lalo Schifrin.
LO: What’s your favorite London discovery?
SP: Oh, it’s all been discovered. However, there is a great place in Merton called Abbey Mills market and the Wandle trail. Well worth a Sunday.
From the exhibition press release: Sam Peacock has developed a portfolio concerned with trade routes and London’s Docklands. Working on sheets of reclaimed steel, Peacock layers paint, Timberyard’s brand of Has Bean Coffee and demerara sugar and liquorice in his Ironsea series. These layers are then scraped back and roasted to allow the natural materials to bubble and discolour in an evolving landscape that is enclosed in varnish. This collection of work focuses on the journey of these imports from their far flung homes to the UK’s South Coast ports and London’s Docklands, seen in the linear demarkation of the steel sheets split into two horizons in both colour and texture. Peacock’s Ironsea series embodies the arrival and dawn of coffee shop culture. Exhibition runs 6th August – 31st October 2014.