THE POLITICALLY CHARGED ARTWORK OF A KNOWN ACTIVIST: AN INTERVIEW WITH HUGO FARMER

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1. Hugo, you were a trained boat-builder and sound engineer, how did you come to find the artist inside you ?

It all stemmed from managing a bar in Shoreditch called the Dragon Bar where I met a lot of creative people who where undertaking interesting projects. We would have a chat over a beer or two, and the next thing I know, I am making or producing a show.
So I ended up leaving the bar to set up a company, making and producing shows of all descriptions. I did this for 14 years which I suppose honed my skills as a craftsmen and gave me the confidence to start making my own stuff which I have been happily doing for the past five years.
Nothing is ever planned for me; you get to a crossroads and decide which way to go, and fingers crossed you get there before hitting another crossing.

 
2. Your strong political views are certainly evident in your work. Are there any specific books, documentaries, or photographs that particularly inspire you ?
 
When I was growing up I always wanted to be a photojournalist so I have always collected photojournalism journals, which have always been an inspiration to me. What I always respected was the length and dangers these people would go to expose the truth. Apart from that, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a bunch of really good friends who are up for a good rant about the ways of the world so I suppose I get a lot of inspiration from them too.

 

" When I was growing up I always wanted to be a photojournalist so I have always collected photojournalism journals, which have always been an inspiration to me. What I always respected was the length and dangers these people would go to expose the truth. "

 
3. Your first solo exhibition showcased four bronze metal casts: The Priest, The Sergeant, The Politician and The Youth. What is the connection between them and what is the message you are trying to send to your audience? Do you think you got that message across successfully ?

I'm not 100% sure that people got the meaning of the megaphone head characters. I suppose the only way to find out is to ask them. What I found out was that the general public is so uninterested in politics in general that if something does not affect them directly, they don't think about it. I am pretty sure that this stems from the lack of trust in our current system and mainly from the fact that we are mainly governed by those who have been destined for a career in politics rather than people who have had a job in the private or public sector. The meaning of the addition of the four megaphone heads is as follows: The Priest represents the church, the Sergeant represents monarchy and the Politician represents the government, which are all figures of authority which we should all question. The sculpture called Ohm Boy is pleading with the three figures to stop suppressing him with too many rules and regulations and is on his knees pleading with them to stop.

 

" the general public is so uninterested in politics in general that if something does not affect them directly, they don't think about it. I am pretty sure that this stems from the lack of trust in our current system and mainly from the fact that we are mainly governed by those who have been destined for a career in politics rather than people who have had a job in the private or public sector.​ "


 
4. Is there any particular reason why you use such a traditional medium of bronze for such current issues ?
 
Bronze makes you think of ancient busts or grand public monuments. I wanted to do something humorous, to turn that idea on its head. By casting not emperors or battle heroes but a hoody-wearing man on the street (Ohm Boy). Why should only figures of supposed high achievement or wealth be represented? No one is more important than the next and surely the masses are more important than the minority. Also bronze has a proven track record and will last a lifetime where as other media such as modern resins have not really been around long enough to see if they will stand the test of time.

 

" Why should only figures of supposed high achievement or wealth be represented? No one is more important than the next and surely the masses are more important than the minority. "

 

5. When are you at your most productive ?
 
I would say I'm at my most productive when I have a deadline. Without a deadline it's hard to know when to stop.

 

6. Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet ?
 
I usually choose a medium depending on what outcome I'm trying to achieve. I would really like to do some large-scale sculptural artworks. The dream would be to have a huge Ohm Boy or YES,NO,MAYBE on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.

7. What were you like in high school ?
 
As you might imagine I hated school, people telling you what to do all the time, other kids being idiots and this constant headache of feeling like you have to fit in with your peer group which when you think about it from an adult's perspective, is a load of bollocks.
I'm also dyslectic, which was only just being recognized at the time. So what used to frustrate me is I would come up with the correct answer but the way I would work it out wouldn't be correct! And hence I didn't get the mark.

 

8. You call yourself an “anti-establishment” artist. What are some of the biggest challenges you have ever faced and what is the biggest lesson you have learnt so far ?
 
I don't think anything is as challenging as the responsibility of having two young children to help through the decisions of life. Everything else seems to pale into non-existence when you become a parent. The biggest thing I have learnt 'em well, I suppose, how to spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

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