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Memory Palace: Meet Simon Showell

by Cass Art
Memory Palace: Meet Simon Showell

Earlier this month, we asked some of our in-store artists to answer the question posed by Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace at the V&A, 'If you could keep only one memory, what would it be?' to celebrate our special ticket offer now available in store.

Simon Showell who currently works at our flagship Islington store chose to save his memories through spray paint, as a complete novice to the medium. He made us want to put Liquitex to the test when we talked to him about his work...

Tell us about your two memories...

The memories I chose to depict are of the people who really helped and encouraged me in pursuing something that I had a passion for. When I was at school art wasn’t something that was usually encouraged and having a creative outlet wasn’t something to strive for. Focus was mainly on more academic subjects whist art, drama and music all took a back seat. I speak to parents now and in some schools it is still the same. I wanted to highlight how important it is to nurture any form of creativity from a young age and how much of a big effect it has on somebody’s life. Here I am over 20 years later and I still remember my first art teacher and the first thing I made (it was a bumblebee made of a toilet roll tube) and I still have it. Sadly I no longer have contact with any of the teachers that encouraged and helped me. I do often wonder if they ever think about the effect they have had on the life of a student.

Why did you choose to represent them through spray paint?

I had never used spray paints for any figurative work before, and I wanted to approach these pieces as a challenge. I wanted to be a novice, someone picking up a spray can for the first time. I limited myself to using the standard size caps, which come with the spray paints, no specialist supplies or tricks of the trade. As I found out its very hard to obtain any detail, I feel this gave the pieces a very naive or primitive aesthetic which took me back to my childhood and being encouraged to paint.

Simon Showell's 'My High School Art Teacher'

Tell us which products you worked with, why, and what you love about them.

I worked with Montana Gold but mainly Liquitex spray paints. The Montanas are great for their drying time. Its a very quick way of working. The Liquitex sprays impressed me a lot. They are low odor so worked out great for me using them in my living room. The paintings are done on mountboard as its thick enough to maintain stability even after layers of paint without warping. 

What else have you been working on recently?

Since these pieces I have put the spray paints to rest for now. I have been working on some oil and acrylic paintings which is my usual medium. I am currently working on a few different pieces which with fingers crossed will be finished for an exhibition at The Tap Room on Upper Street, Islington from October 2nd, which will show work from many different artists, include some who work at Cass Art.

Tell us about life at the flagship store...

I currently work at Cass Arts flagship store in Islington. I love the people I work with. The people really create a creative and positive atmosphere. There is such diversity in each of our practices. We range from painters to photographers, from sculptors to illustrators so I am constantly learning. There is something quite satisfying about being able to answer a question and help someone with their own creative process. For me, I suppose the equivalent of working at Cass is like a child working in a sweet shop. Everyday I am surrounded by things I love to use and the tools of my trade.    

The colours Simon spray painted with were Viridian Hue Permanent 7, Unbleached Titanium, Colalt Blue Hue 3, Cadmium Red Medium Hue 2, Cadmium Red Light Hue 6, Cadmium Light Hue, Burnt Umber 6, Phthalocyanine Green 6 (Blue Shade) and Neutral Grey 5. You can now buy 100 shades of Liquitex spray paint online.

50 shades of Liquitex Spray Paint now available onlineYou can read all about our Memory Palace-inspired work and the special ticket offer on our blog post. You can also meet our in-house artists Ailish Sullivan who saved her memory through sketching and Jeremy Burns who preserved his memory through pastel.

With thanks to Simon Showell. Keep your eyes peeled for news of the Tap Room exhibition with Cass Art in-house artists via our Facebook and Twitter.