Issue 203
May/June 2018

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Jun 21, 2018
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    Time and tide work wonders for Methil's sculptural thinker

    Mach's five tonne newsprint installation Against the Tide in Cass Art, Glasgow

    THIS SUMMER sees the world renowned Scottish sculptor David Mach make a comeback to his home territory, having just completed a show at Cass Art in Glasgow involving five tonnes of newspaper – "Against The Tide" – his comment on "the tide of information we receive daily, and the questions this information raises about our contemporary lives. Questions about our sexuality, gender, race, industry, money and politics"

    With three new shows coming up in Fife it's looking like a good year for the Methil-born, now London-based, artist.

    Making sculpture from newspaper is not a new thing for Mach. In fact the Glasgow show was a lot smaller in comparison to others which have involved anything from 20 to 165 tonnes of newspaper, designed to look like a "wave of paper exploding through one of the gallery walls and cascading through the room, engulfing objects whole, such as cars, furniture and airplanes."

    If there is a message from his newspaper show in Glasgow, he says, "It's about creativity and working in an art shop with its own art gallery seems to be the perfect place to do that.

    "I like to be as creative as possible and to push boundaries in whatever space I can. I especially like working in front of an audience. It turns that creativity into a live performance during which people can talk to me and look at what I'm doing."

    Chatting to him in his studio/home in South East London is intriguing. David didn't know he wanted to be an artist until his school art teacher-cum-careers officer, Mr. Barclay at Buckhaven High School, encouraged him to go to art school, at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee.

    "I was a big dope at the time, I couldn't make any decisions. I was interested in art, but I didn't have a burning desire to be an artist myself."

    He moved to London over 40 years ago when he won a place at The Royal College of Art, with his late wife, Lesley who was to become instrumental in his success. The pair travelled the world over exhibiting his work.

    Since then Mach's work has inspired many and been shown around the world from London to Tokyo, Moscow, Zurich, Sydney, Paris and Warsaw.

    His epic pieces go beyond the every day – they are almost futuristic, involving everything from collapsing phone boxes, matches, tyres, newspapers and even Scrabble tiles and postcards.

    He was nominated for a Turner prize in 1988 and in 1992 won the Glasgow Lord Provost Prize. His first solo exhibition was held at the Lisson Gallery, London in 1982.

    He continues to honour Lesley's legacy by working hard on his sculpture projects. Although he has lived in London most of his life he is still a Scotsman at heart, and nothing will take him away from his native Fife, where he has had a cottage for the last 10 years.

    "What I love most about the Fife people is they are so unimpressed. Generally, so are most Scottish people, but something about Fifers and Dundonians – they are just not impressed – they've seen it all before. And they're really not that impressed by anything – though they'd do anything to help you," he muses thoughtfully.

    He adores the beaches and the Fife scenery. They are like a life blood to him:

    "It's like the Scottish Riviera – the sun beats so hard you could mistake it for the Med – until you put your toe in the water!"

    "The light there is also incredible – we have the best light there in the whole of the UK. I try and get up there every month. That beach between Largo and Leven has given me so many ideas. It's a breeding ground for ideas and creativity", he said.

    As well as creating awe inspiring artworks that now fill cathedrals, David has also recently taken up writing – poetry and short stories, and performing in a band – 27 Zeros.

    It's a surprise he actually has time to sleep – but then again, maybe he doesn't.

    "I went through a spell of going to bed at 1am and then getting up at 3:30am. It was a bugger to get back into it though," he says matter of factly.

    Surprisingly, Mach is not a man for social media,

    "I'm quite anti that sort of thing. I'm on my phone a lot. My phone has become a bit of a mini office. But social media is a bit of red herring to me – it's not really the main event".

    Has success made things any easier for Mach?

    "I still tend to work on the variable that people don't know who the hell I am. If I find myself working somewhere people know me, then it's a bit of a bonus".

    Any advice for budding artists?

    "You have to put stuff out there – learn a musical instrument, try hard, get your hands dirty, do things that may appear too hard – that take too long – you must make an effort. I like effort. I like the extravagance of effort.

    "People get through their lives in all sorts of ways. I've been lucky that I am around people who are constantly inspiring me," he said.

    David Mach is showing in Fife this summer at Cupar Arts (June 17 to 24); in Dunfermline in September, 'Dark Matter and in Dundee, September 29 - November 3, the Tay Project.

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