Bringing contemporary art to Interplas 2014 is Glenn West, a UK artist who melts Polyethylene and plastic sheets to create innovative creations. Leanne Taylor spoke to him to find about more about his creations.
Since I first interviewed Glenn West over a year ago, much has changed for the contemporary artist, not least in the scale, breadth and success of his plastic ‘meltings’.
West, who creates his modern plastic pictures using melted polyethylene bin liners, has expanded his palette of colours, refined his technique and is set to exhibit not only at Interplas, but also at a large German art gallery later this year.
“I have just finished a large, three by three metre melting that is going to be exhibited at the Welt Echo gallery in Chemnitz, Germany,” West explained. “It is a retrospective from my city showing art from the last sixty years. The gallery is huge, and will simply eat small paintings, so that’s why I have made such a large melting. Plus, I want maximum impact and colour to show the range that polyethylene is produced in.”
Speaking of colour, West said he has found sourcing polyethylene in colours outside of black the most interesting part of his venture, with the coloured plastic used in his artwork sourced from his travels across Europe.
“My earliest foray in using plastic was at Liverpool art school, where, much to the despair of the cleaning staff, I used to go early and nick the bin liners. Unfortunately these were just black,” he said.
“I have since found a great range of colours, including some recent ones from a party planner in England. He sells plastic tablecloths with lots of colours that I cannot get from bin liners. It’s exciting as my palette is always expanding and I am ready to start ‘painting’ figuratively with polyethylene now.”
West said that visitors to his studio are surprised by the amount of colours he has in his studio, as well as being somewhat baffled by his technique.
“Most visitors think that the meltings are large oil paintings on canvas. A closer inspection of the surface, however, reveals textures that cannot be made by a brush or palette knife. Then they ask me how I “glued” the plastic to the canvas. I tell them there isn't any canvas there. That really baffles them. The next question is always how I did it. Magic I say. I don't want to give away my secrets!”
But why plastics? West told me that he originally started using plastic as a painting material because he was dissatisfied with the more traditional mediums.
“It seems to me that artists have exhausted the possibilities of oil paint. My time is better spent experimenting with a modern material in a modern way. Art is about creativity after all.” he explained.
West is demonstrating his intriguing technique at Interplas throughout the three days of the show, with his completed works on display alongside live demonstrations of new work in progress.
“I hope to make some industry contacts at Interplas and gain some knowledge of the plastic process. It’s easier to explain what I am using the plastic for when there is artwork there to demonstrate.”