Hello fans and followers of the Gathered Gallery. I am Mike Gough, the current artist in residence. Throughout the month of February I will be sharing glimpses into my art practice as I prepare for an upcoming solo exhibtion with Jones Gallery in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Okay, let’s dive in…
I was born and raised in Corner Brook, NL where I also went to art school. I finished my bachelor of fine arts at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in 2007 and a few years later moved to London, UK where I completed an MFA at Central Saint Martins. My time in London helped me find my voice. Shortly following my MFA I returned to Newfoundland where I began to exhibit my work with Christina Parker Gallery in St. John’s.
At its core, my practice explores how our relationship with the natural world- land, sky and water, connect and define us. Working in mixed media I try to create familiar, meditative spaces that exhibit a personal journey but simultaneously invite the viewer to insert themselves in the narrative. My interest in the elusive quality of memory has always been an invariable interest in my art practice. Rooted in memories of my upbringing in Newfoundland, my paintings are autobiographical, but carry universal narratives. In the absence of detail there is an opportunity for one’s own memories to develop. This work partially stems from a growing fear of memory loss as a result of experiences with Alzheimer’s in my family. Not only does the painting process exercise my memory, the paintings themselves act as records of my experience becoming a blend of reality and idealism.
I have always been drawn to works that arrive out of one’s experience – Nan Goldin, Sophie Calle, Gillian Wearing, David Hockey, Tracey Emin – legends!. I am seduced by intimacy in art. Sidebar - In 2006 I remember seeing a piece by Nan Goldin titled ‘Heartbeat’ at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The work was comprised of a series of photographs presented in a slide show format with accompanying music by Bjork. The images followed the intimacies of relationships between several different couples. Nothing staged – just raw and real. It has stuck with me ever since. Goldin’s work explores the complexities of human relationships and that is something that has always resonated with me. When I am given a window into someones life I can’t help but look.
When I begin a new body of work I always return to the beginning – those moments, feelings or even artworks that ignited my love of art. Over the past several months I have revisited old reference materials, notes and artworks to help gauge what direction I wish to take my paintings for this upcoming exhibition.
Since November I have been preparing for an exhibition, Togetherness (working title), with Jones Gallery. This will be my first solo exhibition with this gallery who recently expanded into newly renovated space in the heart of Saint John, NB. The posts to follow will track my progress, obstacles and results as I hone together a new series of work. For now here are some in progress images from the studio….