Artist's Statement: Timorous Beasties' Alistair McAuley on creating a Bedsit in a gallery

| 14 March 2016

Alistair McAuley is one half of Timorous Beasties, the design studio known for their surreal textiles and wallpapers, with collaborators including Nike, Kate Bush and Famous Grouse

A photo of Paul Simmons, from artists Timorous Beasties, sitting in Plymouth College of Art
Paul Simmons, Alistair McAuley's fellow Timorous Beastie, at the new Bedsit exhibition in Plymouth© Dom Moore
“When the team from the gallery first approached us about this show, we looked at the big student population in cities like Plymouth and thought back to our time in student accommodation in Glasgow in the mid 1980s. We wanted to create something inspired by that time in our lives, which is where the idea for Bedsit came from.

A photo of Paul Simmons, from artists Timorous Beasties, sitting in Plymouth College of Art
© Dom Moore
It’s a time of your life when you make the most out of what you have to hand, even if that’s only two quid in your pocket. Most of us aspire to richness and nice things, but if you don’t have access to that sort of life, you still want to be comfortable.

A photo of Paul Simmons, from artists Timorous Beasties, sitting in Plymouth College of Art
© Dom Moore
Inspiration can come from anywhere, from a stain on the wall to the insects intruding on your home, and these are the themes that run throughout the show. Hopefully we’ve captured something temporary that comes from humble beginnings and a rich and decadent feel to it, but isn’t something to be precious about. It’s nice having beautiful things, but it’s nice to be able to use them too.
 
A photo of Paul Simmons, from artists Timorous Beasties, sitting in Plymouth College of Art
© Dom Moore
Big international trade shows like Maison & Objet in Paris are our usual routes to market, selling to commercial and hospitality markets, so we’re not normally displayed in gallery spaces like this. I don’t consider our work to be art, but I understand why people appreciate the labour involved in creating our products.

A photo of Paul Simmons, from artists Timorous Beasties, sitting in Plymouth College of Art
© Dom Moore
There’s a contradiction, because being commercially minded is not what our company’s about. It’s important to us that not everybody likes what we do. We’d rather be loved or hated, though thankfully there are more people that love our creations.

A photo of Paul Simmons, from artists Timorous Beasties, sitting in Plymouth College of Art
© Dom Moore
We’re inspired by all kind of things – the Arts and Crafts Movement particularly, people like William Morris that were working on drawing, colouring, scale and detail on the cusp of the industrial revolution, when things were really laboured.

A photo of Paul Simmons, from artists Timorous Beasties, sitting in Plymouth College of Art
© Dom Moore
There used to be a real love and commitment that went into the creative process, and although digital allows us to achieve so much in a fraction of the time now, the designs themselves are still very time intensive. You want to achieve that high quality, no matter what it takes to get there.”

  • Bedsit is at Plymouth College of Art until April 16 2016.

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