When Childhood Proves The Best Education

Guggi is a Dublin based painter and the former singer of the band, The Virgin Prunes. His work has appeared in the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York, the Osborne Samuel Gallery in London and the Solomon Gallery in Dublin, among others.

  • Transcript


Question: Has your lack of training helped you as an artist?

Guggi: Yeah. I think there is no doubt about the fact that it has. I think formal training is absolutely correct for some people and for other people I don't think it's correct, and I felt when I was very young -- I mean, my mom would have gone out on a limb to send me to Art College, but I didn't want to go. I think it might have been partly fear of something; I don't know what. Or I think it might have been some touch of wisdom that was planted in me, that steered me away from that and maybe manifested itself in some kind of a fearful manner. I don't know which of those it was or what it was, but I did strongly feel that I didn't want that.

My mom sent me to a drawing class off Grafton Street in Dublin when I was about 11 or 12 years old and it was a still life, it had been set up on the table, there was a group of people sitting around the table drawing it from their angle. My style was still developing as a child and I think technical ability I think is important for an abstract artist because it's a toolbox you can then do with what you want. And I very much had my own style. I delicately drew this in. I was very pleased with it. It was exactly right. I was shading it and the teacher came along, took a big heavy pencil and re-drew it a very different style and said, "That's how it should be done." I think that was the time when I said I am never going to let this happen to me again. I think that's when I decided I don't want anybody telling me how to make my mark and I don't want that to be influenced and I think by not being formally taught protected that and, for me, I wholly believe it was right.

Question: What role has childhood played in your art?

Guggi: I think it's very powerful for any artist. I think people's childhood is a huge mark on their lives. They may realize it, they may not. But I just have this thing about shapes; I've always had this thing about people's faces and I say when I draw a jog in a very awkward child-like way, I almost see it as a person with a really awkward nose or something. You know it comes from childhood but it's painted by a man. So I mean it's a mixture of all of these things. But some of the early marks that have now, I think, basically turned into my vocabulary as a painter I think come from childhood. But it's difficult to -- I don't even try to analyze these things. I just try to walk in faith, trust my instincts.

 Recorded on October 7, 2009