Stone Roses' John Squire: I've given up music for art

 

Former Stone Roses guitarist John Squire talks to The Independent Online about why he exchanged his guitar for a paintbrush ahead of an exhibition of his artwork, alongside that of Sanchita Islam, at Bristol's The Square Gallery next week:

Talk us through the exhibition:


The work is an attempt to capture an optical effect called a negative after image. This happens when the photo-receptors in your eye get confused, either by a brightly lit shape or something that you’ve looked at too long. And that image moves with your gaze when you look at something else.

What's your technique:


I used oils for the paintings which have colour, but the ones which look dry and biscuity are just canvas which I’ve scorched. It all came about as a result of a show I did in Oldham last summer which included a lot of sculptural work based around consumer packaging. I became obsessed with the little punch-out slots in cardboard packages, which are used to hang items on chrome rails in shops. Know what I mean?

Um...sort of.

They look like a lozenge with a bit on top. Called the ‘euro slot’ apparently. I became disturbingly obsessed with that shape and started making whole fields of them. I think the biggest one was about 6 or 8ft covered in tiny little euro slots burnt onto the canvas. I quite liked the effect and began casting around for other shapes I could exploit. All the images in the exhibition rely on the same technique of cutting a shape out of a steel sheet and either painting it or burning it gently into the canvas with a blow torch.

That sounds a bit dangerous. Have you had any mishaps with work catching fire?

Early on, quite a lot yeah. Which was really frustrating if I was just about to finish. But I developed a crude technique of spitting on my own work to extinguish it when the fire caught. (Laughs) Of course I tried blowing on it at first, but that’s like blowing on the end of a cigarette, it just makes it burn faster.

How would describe your style?
 

How do I see my style...Hmm, I’m not sure. I’m still trying to pin it down. It seems to change with every show, much to the frustration of my agent. I’ve trained myself not to change during the show, or rather, during the work for a particular show, but I get so many ideas while I’m working it’s hard not to fly off on tangents.

Do you see yourself primarily as an artist or a musician?


I see myself as a visual artist. But I’m constantly reminded of what I used to be, which is inevitable I suppose. The two did intertwine for a while, mainly around 2004-5 when I was still making music. I realised during that phase that it wasn’t viable to do both.

Have you given up music completely?

Yeah.

You don't think you'll ever go back to it?

No I won't. I can't do both.

Did you go to art school?

I only went up to A-level, which I failed. I went to college after school because I didn’t go into sixth form. Actually, I’m not sure if I was given the option.

So you’ve never really had any teaching at all?

Not really. I think the art teacher at school was quite good. He was very frustrated at the time because 98 per cent of the class saw the lesson as a break period. There was just me and one other lad who were genuinely interested.

Do you sculpt as well as paint?

I’m happiest painting, but I have sculpted. I did a huge piece recently where I had to teach myself how to weld, and I was really pleased with the results. I’d like to get back into it, but I'm still learning. The again, it has taken me five or six years to really understand how to paint even though I dabbled whilst I was making music.

You painted the album art for the Stone Roses’ eponymous first record. Why when you could have commanded a host of creative teams did you decide to?

I was an avid record buyer and spent a lot of time in record shops. There were very few sleeves which I liked, so I assumed that giving the job an in-house art team would be very disappointing. I didn’t really consider the option of letting somebody else do it.

Which other artists influence you?

The last big influence was Agnes Martin. She influenced this exhibition a lot. All the small repetitive shapes and very small forms she used to create a whole. For the painting I’m doing at the moment I borrowed the palette entirely from Pierre Bonnard.

What happens to your work. Does most of it get sold or is it in your house?

The unsold work at home, yes. We’ve taken all the blue floral wallpaper off in the landing so we can start hanging paintings there without them disappearing into the foliage.

How prolific are you in terms of the quantity of work you produce?

It tends to vary. If there’s a show coming up I tend to work intensively towards that. I couldn’t give you an annual figure. The way I’m working at the moment is I’ve got about three canvasses on the go at once and those should take me about a week to ten days to finish.

Do you have a studio in or near your house?

It’s about ten yards away from my house. I live on a farm near Macclesfield and I’ve converted the top floor of what used to be a sheep barn into a studio.

Do you work normal hours?

I work in daylight. I went to another artist's studio recently, I’ve forgotten his name, but he’d specified a particular kind of lighting and he’d blacked out the windows. It was really intense. Like the feeling you get when you walk into an all night shop from a dark street, really dazzling. Blinding white light for 12 hours a day. Hell.

Square Gallery Summer Series, 20th May - 11th August www.thesquaregallery.com

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam