London Lockdown Interviews pART 5 – Oliver Malin

Image still: Marilyn Minter, My Cuntry Tis of Thee, 2018 (courtesy the artist and Salon 94) - available on Daata

Usually, an article written by this author within this feature series would only be aiming for laughs, confusion and splashes of enlightenment. However, after my lengthy delay hoarding enough interviews for another offer, I am stumbling to eschew any turns of phrase until we can all collectively agree that silence in any incidence of racism is simply, complicity. If you read any further you are hereby agreeing to never be silent in the face of racism, I’ll send you the social contract in the post, as we’ve never needed John Hobbes more especially now that we can have a social distanced BBQ (can’t we?). 

Advancing now into the artists’ introductions aspect of my job description, as quickly as the authorities have been firing tear gas at protestors circa 4 pm stateside, we actually start in a happy place, a Stuart Semple shaped cloud of pop-cultural art inflicted pseudo activism via making extreme paint colour ranges. So extreme are these ranges, that Anish Kapoor declared a pigment-based war on Bournemouth’s answer to a CBBC’s version of David Bowie in his golden years’ era and hopefully, Artlyst can secure a six-figure exclusive on the live stream art celebrity paint off in the courtyard the RA, post-pandemic, only sabre brushes allowed.

Leap-frogging away from acrylic-based Mexican stand-off, we visit the pastures of video art via David Gryn, a wizard responsible for conjuring up a critical, commercial. The educational and intellectual framework for the widely misunderstood land of video art, which in a nutshell regarding video with the same possibilities granted to oil paint and not adhering to rules beyond that dictated by the language of the artist at the helm of the camera, some editing software and a vision often unexplored in other mediums. Facilitating a hitchhike to another area of the artworld which definitely isn’t as populated as the amount of books written about Picasso, is James Brett, who currently wins an award for the most succinct question responses however his back catalogue of hits with his band, The Museum/Gallery of Everything has caused more splashes in the interesting ideas pond than Picasso had jaded ex-lovers.

Image still from: Takeshi Murata, OM Making It Rain (courtesy the artist and Daata)
Image still from Takeshi Murata, OM Making It Rain (courtesy the artist and Daata)  Visit Daata

David Gryn

OM: 1) Now that the unforeseen has morphed into the new norm, how has your practice been affected & how have you chosen to respond creatively

DG: Daata has responded by creating Galleries at Daata, a new part of our video and sound hub platform that we have been commissioning artists for since 2015. Daata has now over 500 video artworks, available to view, buy and play with, via the platform’s Daata Editions, TV and now Galleries.

It sounds somewhat wrong to say that there was a silver lining in the awfulness of the recent/current pandemic, but there was, in that we set up this process and we have had a great outcome, with some of the artworlds leading galleries and their artists joining up with us and we are adding new galleries and artworks all the time. Galleries at Daata is probably akin to an Art Fair fused with Netflix – that it is open 24/7.

Galleries include: Hauser & Wirth, Peres Projects, Maccarone, Goodman Gallery and Simone Subal, along with artists such as Trulee Hall, Petra Cortright, Bunny Rogers, Donna Huanca, Tabita Rezaire, Jibade-Khalil Huffman and Martin Creed.

2) How is your mental health at the moment & what are you doing to stay positive

I had the virus, and so was either knocked out from that or then after that fully charged on setting Galleries at Daata up, which has kept me focussed and busy over the last few months. I fully appreciate the magical, heavenly wonders of my local Hampstead Heath, with very early every morning walks with my whippet dog, Max, which is keeping me feeling very positive indeed, and then walks and talks with one or both of my sons keeps me on my toes and humour levels with them is high. It has made make appreciate the rejuvenated cleaner air (with fewer planes and cars recently), trees, birds, sunrises. Due to the early hours – social distancing has not been an issue.

My partner, the artist Jane Bustin, is well versed on working alone, being creative and upbeat, as being an artist is excellent training for lockdowns, being so used to the daily solitude of studio life and the ever ending strangeness of the outcomes of being part of the contemporary artworld. Jane’s wonderful positivity and energy keep our family’s world spinning around magnificently.

3) How has your relationship to time changed, or has it remained the same?

Time flies by in this recent lockdown, so now the time is measured by how many Netflix or Amazon series’ we have watched each evening. Days have morphed into each other. I work most days and hours, so don’t really have much of a concept of one day is different from another. I come from being an artist, and so doing what I am passionate about, whatever it is, occupies my mind and being at all times, I am always driven by the project and not by its trimmings. Sometimes my family encourage me to switch off, and if I am obedient – it feels very good to do that sometimes.

4) What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners?

Be true and good to yourself and any project with its ensuing collaborations and collaborators. You know what your integrity is, and that is your own measuring stick for the worth of a project, how much do you put in. If you want your work and worth to be measured by financial value, the artworld is not the safest place to reside.

5) What have you been listening to on Spotify, watching or baking? 

To make my study more habitable, I started tidying up my old music cd’s and cassettes, as unfortunately I got rid of my vinyl before they made a comeback. So I have been pulling out music from Chopin, Schubert to Studio One music and Augustus Pablo. One of my son’s Jacob is a musician, with a focus on Jazz bass/double bass and he tunes me into things I may never have listened to before, in Jazz and hip hop, but my preference is always anything he plays or creates. Isaac, my other son, is an actor, and recent roles have been in brilliant productions of Oklahoma, West Side Story etc. and so our house is often filled with cacophonies of all kinds of melodies and songs.

I have watched the whole of Ozark, Breaking Bad, Normal People, Babylon Berlin and more… as I cant start something and then put it down, have to finish the whole series in its entirety. All of these mentioned I think are great in some way.

Obviously, with Daata, which some people say is a kind of Netflix for Video Art, I have constant new viewing of brilliant artists creative output at all times.


James Brett- Musuem of Everything
James Brett- Musuem of Everything  Visit The Gallery Of Everything


James Brett


OM: How have the unforeseen circumstances affected your practice & how have you chosen to respond creatively?

JB: We are digging into our collective memory and seeing how it can inspire a more inspired, more informed and more engaged future.

2 How is your mental health at the moment & what are you doing to stay positive?

We keep in touch with our nearest and dearest; we cycle everywhere.

3 How has your relationship to time changed? 

We treat this period like meditation.

4 What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners?

Use this time to create without fear of monetisation.

5 What have you been listening to on Spotify since this madness really kicked off?

We listen to the radio: Resonance, Radio 4, KCRW. We listen to our 18-year-old playlist selves. We watch nothing post-1960.


 the Virtual Online Museum of Art
The Virtual Online Museum of Art  VISIT VOMA

Stuart Semple


OM: How have the unforeseen circumstances affected your practice & how have you chosen to respond creatively?

SS: It’s been strange because I’ve had some symptoms, so I’m self-isolating at home rather than in the studio, so my practice has changed to writing and small drawings. I’ve been planning concepts and ideas but not really making anything – I’m itching to get back in the studio.

How is your mental health at the moment & what are you doing to stay positive?

Well, I’ve suffered from health anxiety and panic attacks since I nearly died as a teenager, so anything to do with the body and health is a challenge. It’s a really testing time for me, especially as I’m hot and have a sore throat, I’ve had a couple of wobbles, but I’m surprised how well I’m coping. My meditation practice is really coming into it’s own and I arranged for our yoga teacher to stream our weekly class for the team that help me in the studio and me – that was really special. I’m trying not to drown in the media and keep looking forward to what I’m going to be making.

How has your relationship to time changed? 

Time seems to be moving a lot slower, but at the same time, there’s a new sense of urgency, it’s weird.

What are you going to do/ learn anything new?

I’m learning how to use the technology to stream a free life drawing class on Facebook because I think it’s a really lovely way to bring the community together online to draw. I have a heap of books I’ve been staring at for ages, and I finally have time for them, so I’m hoping to learn loads 🙂

What advice would you give to your fellow creative practitioners?

First, if you are feeling ok and you are isolating, really use this time to go deep on your practice. It’s a time to realise how connected we are, literally what happens in one side of the world can affect us all and your art and contribution can make a difference positively. Use the technology you have to share your ideas and not to feel so alone. Use the time and consider how the things you make can be useful to others.

What have you been listening to on Spotify since this madness really kicked off?

It’s been more audible than Spotify, but i’ve had some music on – I was listening to early biggie this morning, and then Diddy’s ‘don’t stop’ and then I was drawing to savages and Bob Dylan’s blood on the tracks this afternoon!

Top Image still: Marilyn Minter, My Cuntry Tis of Thee, 2018 (courtesy the artist and Salon 94) – available on Daata

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