The East End has never really been quite the same for me since Joseph Loughborough left just over a year ago and followed the scented trail of fresh croissants and absinthe. I still miss his familiar figure when I venture out to shows, his cheerful, relaxed and approachable manner and his instantly recognisable de-constructed works of quiet, dancing and vunerably exposed characters. I caught up with him recently to ask a few questions before he starts prepping for his solo show in March.
You delivered an immense collection of work at the Old Vic Tunnels last year, are you an artist similar to say Prince the musician who creates so much on a daily basis that it would take several life times to display it all?
Joe: I wouldn’t say that I churn out work on a regular basis (not that Prince churns work out). I feel like I have waves of creativity, it seems like there is a month or two when I have the bug and work pours out then I will have a month where I’m less productive and maybe the skating takes centre stage.
I wish I had a reliable pattern of forecasting work. There is always a constant level of satisfying work being created but those inspired peaks and frustrating troughs cannot be induced or avoided.
Did the move to France and the act of literally putting yourself at the mercy of strangers in a foreign land influence the body of work that you produced for your show ‘The Anatomy Of Strangers?’
Joe: I think it’s always good for creativity to relocate yourself once in a while. It’s almost like you have a fresh start with the work. So yeah I guess it did have a part to play in that body of work. The title stems from reading ‘The outsider‘ or ‘The Stranger‘ by French writer Albert Camus. I liked the duality of the title for a figurative show about absurdity.
What were you saying as an artist by including a piece of art that actually decomposed onto the walls of the Old Vic Tunnels for your show at ‘Anatomy Of Strangers’?
Joe: I would have like to have seen what the work looked like after 2 years not just after 2 weeks to tell the truth. Nothing lasts forever.
I have seen you quoted as saying that you like “the deep, covered and hidden aspects of people” . On a daily basis when relating to people do you enjoy bringing these sides of people out or do you shy away from that in real life and only confront it in your works?
Joe: I would say that I don’t like to bring these elements to the surface in general day to day correspondence. For lots of us confrontations with what we consciously or unconsciously hide away is painful. I would hope that people who spend a little more time with me understand that my work is not to blandly provoke but to provide an alternate outlet for my own way of seeing and feeling things. Firstly I express myself. What others find in my work may resonate with similar or contradicting perceptions, both of which I would consider a successful response. Perhaps I hope that if I am more honest with people they will be more honest with me. Ultimately this is a naive ethic. But it keeps me bumbling along.
I really enjoy looking at photographs of your sketchbooks for their rawness and intimacy, they are similar to a diary, have you ever considered having these published or basing a show around them?
Joe: The sketch books have been an important part of my creative outlet since I was about 14. I think the only way I could display them is by showing copies. The books themselves are the only things I wouldn’t part with and as far as material possessions go they are my most personal & valuable objects. The work within them I don’t really consider my real work. They are more the shells or bones of ideas to be filled or fleshed when I bring the work out. Real work for me happens when the planned ideas take on new meanings and forms but they are as you say my visual diaries and trace many of my experiences over the years.
You’ve lived in France for over a year and now you’re based in Berlin, do Europeans embrace you and your art with more understanding and appreciation than the UK?
How has Germany received your art and what’s next on the horizon?
Joe: Berlin is a crazy place. I have met so many great people here already! At the moment I’m preparing for another solo show in California early next year. Then I have some more projects evolving in France as well as with Ed at The Future Tense. Hopefully some more opportunities will arise in Berlin when the snow melts .
Can you ask yourself a question Joe?
How do you see your work developing in the future?
Currently I’m still really enjoying working just with charcoal and a little bit of colour but I hope to return to and develop my painting again at some point. At the moment the black and white work is still opening personal avenues and generally really satisfying!
A big thank you Joe for taking the time out to answer these questions and good luck with your show later in the year!