The eXTra finGer
...''He was counting on his fingers.One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven.Eleven?Had he been born with an extra finger?''...
- Name: Claudio Parentela
- Location: Italy
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
q)Introduce yourself, name,age, location.
a)KEELERTORNERO is Chin Keeler, Emma Tornero: Stoke
q) Can you describe your path to being an artist? When did you really get into it?
a)After having both attended art college in
London, I started playing music in town and Emma
started work as an animator. We met when i joined a band fronted by Mary Byker
of Gaye Bykers on Acid, Emma was going out with the keyboard player. We had
very similar interests and began collaborating on various music related art
commissions such as sleeve design and backdrops for clubs and venues. Meanwhile
we started collecting plastic toys from jumble sales and charity shops and
these became the materials for a series of surreal dioramas. We attempted to
sell these at Camden market, never making much cash but managed to make a
living painting shop signs and banners in-between touring with various bands.
At one point we moved our massive collection of plastic into a cheap tiny
studio across the river from the Millennium dome in the docklands area of camden East London and continued to create. There's very little
documentation of what came out of that period because at the time we didn't
realise it was important. During this time we set up the artist collective
'glassshrimp' promoting music and art events and producing a live weekly
magazine show on 's
famous Resonance 104.4fm. We also began producing work with collaborative
artist group 'The Doberman Family' which focused on community based projects
and site specific installations. London
Eight years ago, our tiny riverside studio was demolished and we were offered space in a dynamic artist community housed in a Victorian sewing factory in Stoke
It was here that our collaborative style flourished as we focused more on fine
art drawing and painting. Since then our practice has moved to another level,
with our current diary full of deadlines for shows and projects. Newington
q) Describe your ideals and how they manifest in your work.
a)We are fantasists and surrealists, obsessed with the past and fascinated by the future. We like to shake it all up to illustrate an alternative reality in which anything can happen. We once described it as: 'A fisherman from the island of Terschelling in 2019 rubbing shoulders with John Wayne who, trapped inside the body of a stag in 1648, is trying to escape his future by becoming the son of architect Mies van der Rohe'.
We like to create images in which the impossible emerges as something perfectly natural, where characters play parts in an all-encompassing illusory world – a place of dreams, hallucinations and unkempt fantasy, inhabited by strange beings, beasts and insects living out their lives just beyond our peripheral vision. We are drawn to the illusion of innocence represented in the images, characters and movies of the 50's and 60's, the colours, the textures, the cultural idyll of that bygone age, something that is lost forever and therefore holds magic for us. In the same way, because we were both partly brought up in the country, we are interested in rural themes in context of an urban existence, again how the concept of rural life is held in the minds of contemporary city dwellers as an ideal, something we all aspire to but is at the same time an illusion and something that is increasingly disappearing. You will always find related motifs in our work: birds, insects, animals etc but usually presented out of context or in environments you're not used to seeing them in. Humour is very important to us so basically we're trying to have fun with the images we love and are drawn to but at the same time present open ended questions about the nature of humanity.
q) Is music a part of your studio time? What do you listen to?
a)Music is a permanent accompaniment to everything we do and we have very eclectic tastes. Without listing actual names, we listen to everything from doom metal to
jazz. We are currently grooving
to BELBURY POLY on the Ghostbox label and The Melvins is an everyday staple. New Orleans
Inbetween making art we work for a friend who promotes music for press and radio, so theres always new and interesting stuff coming through the building. At the moment we are working on the new album by Karl Bartos of Kraftwerk. Also we belong to a larger musical community and most of our friends are somehow connected with the music industry so theres always lots of gigs and shows to go to.
q) How would you describe your work to someone?
a)Our work is essentially surrealist figuration rendered in either paint, pencil or collage. We like to have fun with imagery and enjoy the juxtaposition of the absurd and the super absurd. What we do is usually attractive in a way that most people don't fully understand at first and sometimes on closer inspection, all is not what it seems. In terms of technique, we achieve a high level of technical expertise but at the same time retain an aspect of freshness and immediacy. Our individual styles are very different but we manage to meld them in a way that doesn't seem forced or contrived.
a)We are influenced by everything, all the time. All aspects of life find their way into our work. The art that influences us is also very eclectic: the dutch masters, pastoral painting from the seventeenth century, the neo-impressionists of the 40's and 50's, graphic novels and comics, pop art, art brut, circus and fairground art, classic portraiture, early religious icon painting and so on…thats not to mention the many friends and colleagues whose art is all around us.
q) Describe your process for creating new work.
a)Everything we do contains either the conceptual or physical input of both artists, working on the same piece at the same time and sometimes getting in each others way, but its a process of give and take. We usually have several pieces on the go at any one time so we can put things in rotation, wait for things to dry, talk about the next step for each one. Theres always a definite dialogue about where each thing should be going and it's important that we agree. Sometimes this happens in a more intuitive way where one of us will have an idea down on paper and the other will add to it and hand it back for the first person to continue. There has to be a certain level of trust when working like this plus an intrinsic understanding of where each other is coming from. We also tend to work in intensive blocks where we really get into the zone, often working late, sleeping over at the studio and continuing next morning.
q) What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?
a)The most important thing for us has been getting a decent website together, getting some nice little business cards made with that website address on, attending gallery openings and generally getting yourself out there. If you cant get anyone to show your work, put on your own shows with friends and promote them yourself. We sometimes do things without payment just so we can add it to our CV and especially if we haven't done anything like it before, plus you never know where it will lead or who you will meet in the process. All that and work on your stuff everyday…
q) What are you really excited about right now?
a)We now really want to get to grips with oil paint. Up to now most of what we've done has been using acrylic, graphite or collage so we're excited about the new horizons we hope oils will bring. We have several friends who are master oil painters so we should be ok for good advice.
q) What do you love most about where you live?
a)Our studio is in Stoke
which is home to a remarkably
diverse mix of cultures, races and lifestyles. You have communities of hasidic
jews, turks, muslims, afro-caribbeans and asians all rubbing shoulders with
artists, musicians and baby-producing young professionals quite happily, so its
a rich atmosphere to be around. Plus the food that you associate with each of
those groups is present in abundance. Five minutes walk from our studio is a
huge overgrown cemetery which we use for walks of inspiration. Also theres a
myriad of beautiful parks, marshes, canals and pubs within spitting distance, it
seems we have everything right here, except the mountains, and sea that is, and
the desert….. and the sun… Newington
q) Best way to spend a day off?
a)On a bicycle, slowly discovering new bits of town and catching exhibitions and shows. The thing about london is that is doesn't matter how long you've been here, theres always something new to discover, places you've never been, buildings you've never seen, and of course ending up in a lovely boozer.
q) Upcoming shows/ projects?
a)In the coming months we have a solo show in central london, two solo show in manchester, a mural in a trendy Hoxton bar and a job designing the set and costumes for a show being devised at the Unicorn theatre. Also this year we will be getting into the world of film, which we are very excited about.
q) Where can people see more of your work on the internet?