Aspex Gallery, The Vulcan, PO1 3BF
Monday 01 October 2018 – Thursday 31 October 2019
Image: Megan Clark-Bagnall and Jasmine Loveys, Carboot Disco Bingo. Photo: Paul Blakemore
Our Artist of the Month feature aims to promote artists' work and raise issues in a quick, informal way. June's Artist of the Month is Megan Clark-Bagnall.
Hello, what do you do?
Hello. I’m a Visual Artist & Social Maker. I make playful projects with people. I like to make fun and often silly projects but I’m very serious about making the silliness happen! My commissions include: building haystacks from shredded anxiety (Needle In The Haystack, first shown at Bristol Biennial 2014), turning commuter routes & public spaces into social meeting spaces (An Everyday Party, Bristol, 2015), establishing positive letter writing dens inside a National Trust property (Type Away, Surrey, 2012), turning a swimming pool into a pool table with the help of a young swimming team dressed as pool balls (Pool in the Pool, Crewe Council, 2012) and The Curiosity Museum (2018), which is the UK’s first portable museum of curiosity (Produced by Equal Vision CIC).
I'm also one half of Carboot Disco Bingo with my good friend Jasmine Loveys. Together we combine the Disco and the Bingo from the boot of our vehicle to bring an interactive dance game experience for everyone to enjoy.
I’m co-Director of M2 AIR – an Artist In Residence programme for children, which artist Ali Brown and I deliver. It involves 1 x talented young artist aged between 7–11, a £10 materials budget, 2 x days and an awful lot of Ribena in wine glasses for the Private Views. We love it!
Where are you based?
I’ve lived in Bristol for the past seven years. I’m originally from Derbyshire (and grew up with a lead mine shaft in my back garden, which made a brillo circle of death activity on my bicycle to impress my mates). Previously I lived in Totnes during my time at Dartington College of Arts and Liverpool for some time where I worked as Event Designer to fund my part-time Masters in Contemporary Theatre at LIPA.
Where do you work?
These days you’re likely to find me…
– Exploring new spaces with new people and drafting out the beginnings for new projects.
– In my studio preparing for the more imminent projects. Often vinyl cutting or crafting props and project components. I’m in BV Studios and share a large warehouse space called M2 with 10 others. I’ve surrounded my corner with my fave colours; lots of pink and yellow, which I’ve slowly started to brand my work with over the years.
– Running creative workshops in libraries or other public spaces.
– Spending far too long writing funding bids late into the night hunched over my kitchen table.
– Chatting to strangers about new ideas in the nail salon, which I visit every 3 weeks on East Street.
What’s the best thing about the area you live/work in?
Sharing is caring. In M2 when the kettle goes on the conversation goes on, if just for a few minutes. We’re a mixed bunch of creative professionals from writers, film prop makers, illustrators, performers and social makers but we’re good at checking in and offering advice when it’s in need.
What does 'success' mean to you?
If you’re doing it, then you’re doing it. If you’re talking about doing it, then you’re not yet doing it. So, it’s a success to me when I’ve made it and I’m doing it! When I’m talking about doing it and making active steps towards doing it, then I’m on the pathway to success, but when I’m actually doing it, I feel like I’m actually winning!
However, I do keep saying “WHEN you earn £30k or above and you have membership at Clifton Lido you’ve undeniably made it, haven’t you?”
Do you earn a living from making art?
I do make a living from making art. It’s what pays my bills and I’ve slowly filtered out the OTHER work. I’ve had some jobs along the way to support me; I used to work as an Art Technician and guest teach a bit in a secondary school and I used to be a part-time bin woman (which I found strangely fun) BUT currently I only work one afternoon a week looking after a creative young artist called Noah.
What makes a good artwork?
Something thought-filled. Something relatable. Quite often I’m drawn to FUN but I do like a variety. I like something with a USP that makes me go ‘OMG, I’D NEVER HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT! SO SIMPLE, SO CLEVER.’ I like things that are human and relatable with a whiff of wonder.
What have you been up to recently?
Last year my husband Owen Lord and I travelled the length and breadth of the UK’s A-Roads (in our 1986 bright red Bedford Rascal van) and visited #everylittlechef and photographed all fourty one before they closed on 31st January this year. We’re currently working on a book and a presentation of our finds. We’re still not quite sure WHY we did it OR what it means, so we have a lot to work on before the year is out.
I’m continuing my research into the history of the pineapple and its present and historical journey from plantation to plate and the ethics and stories surrounding this trendy fashion icon among fruit.
I’m fine tuning my live art piece MELVIS. Me as Elvis inspired by Priscilla Presley’s autobiography Elvis & Me and the myths surrounding this American Dream.
What have you got coming up?
The Curiosity Museum is currently touring the UK. It now accompanies many schools alongside their teaching of The National Career Curriculum; inviting two young people at a time to explore the museum and identify their own curiosities to find out what makes them tick. The 120cm-squared museum consists of three cabinets, one to host a changing collection of curious objects (each donated by a considered selection of curious human beings), an interactive task station, a growing archive and of course, the archway of possibility!
Ali Brown and I are just about to launch a season of M2 AIR Artist Residencies in Foxhill, Bath with four local artists aged 7–11. We’re part of #MadeInFoxhill – an exciting programme of creative events, inviting the community to come together in new ways.
M2 AIR is about showcasing the power of art and opening up our studio, and showcasing it to others. Born out of a discussion between Ali and I about not knowing this world existed, until one day through a strange set of circumstances we found ourselves here. The programme is designed for each artist to spend two days with us in a collaborative fashion; sharing ideas and skills as any three artists working together do. Ali and I take on the role of Sous-Artists, passing the ART POWER baton on to the young artist to ‘have a go’. Primarily, we’re just teetering back stage, refreshing the wine glasses with Ribena and offering logistical support as we viciously gaffa tape together fragile cardboard structures. All this aside, we take the silliness very seriously!
We’ve taken the iconic orange residency desk over to Foxhill and we’re in the progress of setting up a temporary art studio inside an old launderette. Follow our progress here.
Working towards a South West where talented artists thrive, and a resilient and connected visual arts ecology that inspires more engaged and diverse audiences to value and advocate for its work.
Part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network