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08 Nov, 2009

My Space: Marc Quinn

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

The artist opens the doors to the library of his London studio – a room for reading and lunch with his boys

I’ve worked in and around Old Street for 10 years. It’s a fun area because it’s quite anonymous, but there are always people around. This studio is two storeys of a new build with flats above. It’s a bit like a tardis. You enter through a very small door into a big open space, very minimal, with a few artworks around. I like the work of Sarah Lucas, Gary Hume, and southeast Asian art. I don’t just want to look at my own stuff all the time.

This is the library, where I can sit and read – an area of contemplation, I suppose. If you look closely you’ll see an alphabetical list of art books which I’ll look at from time to time, but I get most of my inspiration from magazines or the internet.

At the moment I’m working on a series of sculptures of people who’ve transformed themselves through plastic surgery – it will be shown next year. A lot of the people I found on the internet, such as Buck Angel who is a transsexual porn star. It’s quite magical to actually meet someone you’ve previously only seen on your computer. The final sculptures will be in bronze, silicon and marble, and up to 3m tall.

As an artist you have to have a creative relationship with your gallery, so Jay Jopling from White Cube sometimes drops in. It’s partly a social call. He’ll see what’s happening and then we’ll sit down here and decide what we’re going to do with a show. My two sons, Sky, 4, and Lucas, 8, often come around for lunch: that’s fun (we live in Primrose Hill, which is only 30 minutes away). It’s only dangerous for children in that there are unsuitable images on the wall that I have to remember to take down.★

The Art Fund presents an Artist in Conversation talk with Marc Quinn on 12 November at 7pm at the National Portrait Gallery (www.artfund.org/whatson)

Around the room

Marble chairs and table I made a line of marble furniture called Iceberg with the Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery in Mayfair at the end of last year. I made this table and chairs for myself to put in the studio. It’s Italian white marble, exactly the same material as I would use for the sculptures.

Toast My preferred snack is Poilâne toast with olive oil, salt and pepper. Poilâne is posh French sourdough bread they sell around the corner in Waitrose for about £2 a loaf, but it’s worth it because it’s got a bit of body and bite to it – it’s not just fluffy bread. I’ll have a few slices at lunch and then a few more in the afternoon.

Implant This was a gift from one of the sitters for this new series. They sent me a letter saying they’d really enjoyed it and wondered if I’d like a discarded implant as a little present, which was very touching. I imagine it was removed to put a new one in, so it has already been sitting inside a body for a fair few years.

Framed picture This is a satellite photo of Hiroshima taken about one millisecond after the bomb was dropped. It’s like the beginning of the 20th century, in a way. There’s this rather amazing abstract sculpture made of smoke, the beginning of the mushroom cloud, and then you see the city in front of it just sort of sitting there, waiting. I bought it from an art dealer in Germany.

Sculpture Jason Schulman became an artist at the age of 40, so he’s in this interesting situation of being a youngish artist whose work is quite mature. I can’t remember the price I paid for this. It’s a handmade Solpadine packet in magnetic suspension which appears to levitate. He just did a show at the Moscow Biennale.

Flower sculpture This is one of mine. It’s like a transgenic plant; real flowers cast into bronze then reassembled by me to make an impossible plant. I developed a process to cast the actual flower. It was deemed impossible before I got it to work.

Baby heads I made these two little sculptures of my sons’ heads when they were born, four years apart. I did a little clay portrait in the hospital and then made both of them in their own placenta as well (a bit like Self, the frozen cast of my head made with nine pints of my own blood). Those ones are now in the Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas and a private collection in New York.

Kate Moss Polaroid I took this the first day she came in to start modelling for the series in bronze I did a few years ago. It’s a lovely black and white picture of her. She is very easy to work with and understands that there is a difference between herself and her image, which essentially what the work was about.

Silk fabrics I go to the south of India every Christmas for a holiday and I tend to bring back lots of silks and fabrics for covering sculptures. I’ve been going for about five years now.

William Blake head This is a plaster cast of the life cast of Blake that’s in the National Portrait Gallery (one of the inspirations for my frozen head). It’s rather amazing because it’s not a death mask, it’s a life cast, so it’s about energy and life rather than the record of an empty vessel. I think that was quite unusual in his day. At one point they were selling copies, so I bought it.

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