Marc Quinn: the art of love
Marc Quinn tells Griselda Murray Brown about exhibiting new sculptures amid antique fragments at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London.
Produced by Griselda Murray Brown. Filmed by Richard Topping. Edited by Josh de la Mare. Pictures courtesy and © Marc Quinn studio. 'Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life', Sir John Soane’s Museum, March 28–September 23.
Marc Quinn is perhaps best known for Self, a series of sculptures cast from his own head and made out of his blood. His other works are similarly concerned with the body-- a gold statue of Kate Moss in a yoga pose, for instance, and Alison Lapper pregnant. Now Marc Quinn is exhibiting a new body of work at Sir John Soane's Museum in London.
It's a series of sculptures of him and his partner cast from life, and it's designed to echo the classical fragments in the collection here. Soane was an 18th century architect and a passionate collector of antique fragments. He lived in this house, which is now the museum.
They're made from live casts, so they're really fragments of reality frozen in a way.
Can you tell me something about the relationship of this to the works that we see here?
Well, I mean they kind of-- I think, as you can see, this is the kind of the home of the fragment in a way. And so to echo that language of the fragment, but instead of being about the past, they're about the present moment. So they're about a frozen moment in time that talks about the emotional relationship between two people. It's about trying to find a language to approach something elusive like love, like relationships. But using perhaps some more expected language, that of ancient culture.
What is it about love exactly that the fragment can kind of get at? I guess I'm thinking about this idea of kind of completeness or incompleteness and the idea of completing somebody through love.
Well, I think there's that, isn't there then? Of course. These are delicate things. And I mean these sculptures are all shown on art packing cases that say things like delicate, do not rock. It's all about holding something in suspension that sort of, in a way only exists because of a freak combination of millions of different factors.
Can you tell me about the process of making these? Was it physically quite demanding?
Quite demanding, yes. I mean you get this sort of dental silicone, which normally you get a tiny bit for your teeth, on the whole body. It's incredibly heavy. And then you have to have put a plaster case around the outside to keep the form of it.
And I made Jenny paint it twice during the whole year and a half process. And I think this leg was one of them, because keeping your leg up in the air is quite difficult. And then, of course, the other thing is when we're in the pose, we're kind of bound together.
So obviously, in a way, it's quite nice to kind of hold someone for two or three hours. But it can also become quite irritating. So you kind of run through the whole gamut of your relationship for that three hour period.
In a microcosm.
In a microcosm. And I think that because they're made in a real moment, you see all the blood vessels, and you see the reality of it.
So the works are of you and your partner, Jenny--
Muse, let's say.
--your muse, Jenny. Could they have been models? Does it matter to you.
Well, I don't think they could. I think that because there is a real relationship between us, somehow that becomes more real. But they're fragmentary. And I think when something's fragmentary you also bring-- you complete it yourself. There's many complete statues, but somehow they're boring, because they're too hermetically perfect. They don't leave a way in emotionally for the viewer.
What's your relationship to John Soane? Is it a kind of collaboration?
Well, I mean I think in a way John Soane is a collector and an artist. This is a bit like an artist's studio, I think. But somehow because of this sense of a collection of fragments and classical works in bits and pieces, they look totally at home and yet they feel completely now as well.
So perhaps it updates the place, because his installation practise was a continuous thing. And even I think the day before he died, he put the last sculpture in. So it's just a process that stopped because he died. Had he not died, I'm sure it would have continued.