Frame 61

Mike Ballard

Frame 61
Mike Ballard

"My work is influenced by my travels and wanderings through the city. I am really interested in found painting and abstractions, mainly from building sites and across shop fronts in the urban environment."


Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practising artist and where did you study?

I live and work in London and have been making studio based work since around 1999,  I studied at St Martins from 2005-2007 which is when the approach to my work really changed and I became more dedicated to my practice.

You work across many mediums, including painting, sculpture and video. Could you tell us about your work and your process?

My work is influenced by my travels and wanderings through the city. I am really interested in found painting and abstractions, mainly from building sites and across shop fronts in the urban environment.

I am interested in the use of functional painting to denote ownership and the division of public and private space in the city.  I work across several different series at once,  moving between found materials, such as hoardings and scaffold netting, to mixing traditional painting mediums with industrial paints and photo copies. 

My process begins with photographing the things that grab my attention, then editing and cropping them to form a composition to base my paintings on. The hoardings and netting are gathered from Building sites and then cut up in the studio to form minimal structures that allow the materiality and surface to be re considered, free from their use as  territorial gesture.

Ghostly Haberdasheries, 2017

No Omega, 2017

Eggshell, 2017

Advertising the invisible, 2017

Could you tell us about your video work and the show you had at the London gallery: Block 336, back in 2012?

My video work has mainly been documentation of different processes.  The piece IDST first started as a record of a new series of paintings.  The paintings were made by piercing spray cans on spikes.  This process was to allow the paint to be emptied in one uncontrollable take.  I wanted to remove a level of control from myself as painter, and let the pressure of the aerosol can dictate the outcome of the paintings.  I have always been fascinated by spray paint, its immediacy and pressure,  and also the audible quality of the medium.  Whilst making these paintings and reviewing the footage it became clear that the video was becoming the most interesting part of the paintings.  So when working with Block 336, we decided that it would be great to make an immersive multi channel video installation of the painting process.  I feel the video explored the materiality of spray paint, its pressure, fluidness and also its explosive nature.  It was great to work with the team at Block, they really helped realize the project and the space really fitted well with the feel of the work.

Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?

I wake up too early most mornings, wishing I could sleep more. A few Strong coffees and I normally get to the studio by 8.30,and leave around 7 pm.  I get all the admin stuff out the way then on with work, I like work on a lot of paintings at once and move between them. Then I’ll have a period of just concentrating on making sculptures and clear the studio of paintings and it becomes a wood workshop, annoying my neighbours with loud sawing all day. I recently moved to a new studio which is great, as I have more room to work, and there’s a good community of artists here.  When I’m not at the studio I’m always on the look out for material and conducting research, I like to wander and explore new places, that’s what I love about London so much, is that there’s always somewhere new to check out and the city seems to be a massive building site most of the time.

Ultranomadic def smith cycle. Video installation, 2012 at Block 336 gallery

Where has your work been headed more recently?

I’ve been very concentrated on painting lately, and hoping to find time to make some new video work. The new paintings further explore my interest in the social fabric of the city environment. The paintings are based on the residue left once stickers and illicit advertising has been removed from street furniture and shop fronts.  I’m fascinated by the abstract marks left on the surface from the removal of the sticker/image. The paintings mix photocopy transfers of these traces and mark making/over painting.

What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?

 One piece that has really stuck in my mind was by Oscar Murrillo at Carlos Ishikawa, during the Condo weekend. The installation of hand made mannequins with a singing performance, it was a very moving and powerful piece.

How do you go about naming your work?

 I keep a list of titles that are thought of and gathered from different sources, and then refer to these when titling a piece, or sometimes a title comes straight away whilst working on the piece.  The sculptures are named after the places where the material was taken from.

Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?

I have work in a couple of Group shows coming up,

one is at ‘No. 20’in Islington, curated by artist Jim Threapleton

Opening 16th May

I am also doing a residency at Griffin Gallery during May, working with Liquitex on producing new paintings and also an edition of hand made spray paints. 

And a group show at the Griffin gallery ‘In Residence’  opening July 26th

Currently also talking with a gallery about another show in July, yet to be confirmed.

All images courtesy of the artist
Published date: 5/4/17