“My practice scrutinizes ideas relating to the body and the grotesque. I draw my inspiration from Science Fiction, Horror, Surrealism, Cartoons, Comic books and folk art. Undecidability is utilized within my practice as a means of production to navigate the grey areas or slippages within language in order to allow the works to remain open to a myriad of possible readings. Although I generally work with a range of different media, my body of recent work, an installation of multiple parts entitled, “The Midnight Kitchen”, is more specifically concerned with destabilizing the signification of its forms and their predisposed meanings through a gesture of allowing the works to be in their most material sense, what they are. The slippages that occur through translation however become seemingly relative to process in this regard, and the works begin to take on alternative readings. Looking at the genres of science fiction and horror I have been particularly interested in the procedures involved in prop making, in turn this has lead me on a relatively in-depth investigation of these processes and their materials. Through this investigation I have explored the formal qualities of the materials through an ongoing process of translation and transformation.”
– Matt Molloy
artMuse: Did you grow up in an artistic family?
MM: Yeah totally, dad was a photographer and both him and mum would always encourage us – both my brothers Tim and Sean are artists and musicians, too. We all ended up influencing each other really, and I think it’s pretty easy to see that when you look at all of our art together. It’s probably part of growing up with the same stuff together, you know, playing with the same toys.
artMuse: Do you mean modelling clay… or cookie dough?
MM: Actually yeah – I’ve wanted to make these sculptures that are similar to what I used to do when I was a kid. There’s this idea I’ve had of making a head from the brain out in different stages using Plasticine, only to then dissect it, peeling the layers back starting with the ‘skin’ (laughs). I used to do that with different body parts; kind of like forensics, how they build those models. Even though they would always look a bit weird, I think I was just really interested in the structure of things.
artMuse: What is your favourite medium to work with?
MM: Definitely sculpture – I just find my brain works in three dimensions better – I think everyone’s does though, you know we live in a 3D world. It’s very hands-on, very visceral. I guess I’m most commonly associated with moulding and casting objects, using clay often. But initially though, I used to be this die-hard traditionalist painter – really particular, preaching that you can only paint in oils and must do so in certain ways. I was doing my Masters at Elam in Auckland and it was really my tutor, Peter Robinson, who sort of blew my mind on this and suggested I should be sculpting instead. He gave me direction.
artMuse: What’s the best part about sculpting?
MM: My process of working – I like setting it up so that things I hadn’t foreseen can and do happen.
artMuse: What’s your process, how do you sculpt?
MM: Like a cowboy! No, I don’t know (laughs), I do things way too quickly and don’t think them through completely. Some aspects of sculpture are still new to me though too, there are so many amazing materials that I’m not yet so familiar with, so naturally unpredicted bumps are always going to occur along the way. Sculpture has an experimental quality, and it’s this element of chance that’s exciting.
artMuse: So what sort of subject matters do you explore?
MM: They are broad and varied, but at the same time, a lot of my work harks back to this idea of the grotesque – not in a Victorian sense but in a bodily sense.
MM: Well our bodies aren’t perfect and they have a life of their own whether we like it or not, they aren’t just controlled by our minds. This is the thing about the grotesque – it’s disgusting, but can be beautiful at the same time. This idea of duality is a predominant thread in my art. It’s interesting when you have two opposites and you try to bring them together that ordinarily wouldn’t fit or work. From this there are underlying themes of hybridity, cloning and horror – I’m a big horror fan and I think that comes through a lot in my art.
artMuse: How do you realise these images and objects you want to create?
MM: I think it’s due to a combination of everything. I’ll be half way through a piece and see something somewhere that clicks with me and I’ll then try to find a way of bringing it in to the work. That’s part of where the hybridity comes from – drawing on mass media, it’s the creation of something new from a coupling or grouping of otherwise unrelated subjects. My work makes reference to the concept of self-portraiture, in a metaphorical way, for example, my work Self-Portrait (2008) is essentially a dog’s body with my head. But you know, I think that a lot of art, directly or not, is self-portraiture – you look at a piece and it tells you something about the artist.
artMuse: Then does it bother you how people interpret or respond to your work?
MM: Well I just want my work to have an impact on the viewer. I’d hate for someone to look at a piece I’ve made and feel nothing sitting on the fence – either hate it and have that sort of response, or love it. If I’m getting those reactions, then I’m happy.
artMuse: What do you think is a key element in making a good sculpture?
MM: Well I think exactly that – something that impassions people in whichever way. As much as I love nice pretty art, which has it’s place as well, I feel that’s the sort of thing I’ll do when I’m 80, you know, when you can’t be bothered thinking anymore.
artMuse: What has been the highlight of your creative output so far?
MM: Hmm probably this installation I did at City Art Rooms where we installed a corpse in the office there. They loved it – though it wasn’t an actual corpse, more bags of body parts that were scattered around with fake blood dripped on their computers. They couldn’t walk there for a whole month. Art that has an initial reaction or impact like that, it was awesome.
artMuse: What do you want to be doing with your art in the next few years?
MM: More public art, I love collaborating with other artists. I’ve had ideas about doing guerrilla sculpture where I’d probably end up loosing thousands of dollars but I just think it would be a really fun project – placing a huge concrete sculpture in a park and hoping the local council doesn’t notice (laughs). At the moment I’m really into the work of Canadian artist David Altmejd who seems to transform everyday materials into amazing installations and huge sculptures. I get really involved with the materiality of sculpture so it’s an exciting prospect to think about creating work on such a similar large scale.