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Tim Muddiman – Artist: Interview

Artist and musician, Tim Muddiman will hold his first, eagerly-awaited solo show, The Ones Who Slept There at
London’s new, 99 Projects gallery from 1st – 19th July, demonstrating his exciting move into paintings of modernist architecture. The solo artist and long-time musician for Gary Numan will unveil 20, never-before-seen paintings and limited edition prints at the Kensal Rise gallery
.

We caught up with Tim Muddiman to talk about the project, his shift from life on the road to full time artist, musical inspiration, architecture, how music and art crossover and much more.

Tim Muddiman
Tim Muddiman

How did you get involved with 99 Projects? Has it been a long time in the making?

My studio and where I work from is in the building of Northampton Contemporary Art which is part of Arts Council in the UK. The curator who runs that whole establishment knew the curator of 99 Projects and knew she was opening a gallery. This was around November 2020. I met with Frances Casey, the owner of the gallery, and we discussed the potential of doing an exhibition.

I’ve been painting for years; frighteningly, around 17 years! I’d been on a mission for around 18 months where I had painted and published my work online. I was sharing it in a Facebook group and online and that was a mission. Fortunately, I sold all of the pieces (check out some pictures of the pieces here).

When it came to the end of December, I really wanted to pull back on the style I was doing and think about how I distributed my work. I wanted to speak to galleries and take it forward another step from where I was. The idea of doing the exhibition in July, when it was discussed in January/February meant that it fitted in well with my timeline.

That’s a brief history of how I got to be here!

It must have been a hard decision to step away from the musical side of things? Gary Numan is so wildly successful and has a fanbase that know the members of his band as well as him. They immerse themselves in the people involved. Or was it a little easier when you saw that the pieces you had sold in 2020 all went?

I’ve toured as a musician since I was 23. I’m 47 now. I have a wife and I have a two daughters. I’ve toured with Gary since 2003. In 2007 I joined the band. I’ve only missed around maybe ten shows and that was when I was playing guitar with Pop Will Eat Itself. The last two to three years of touring just became increasingly hard for me to be away. I’ve been married for two years now. I’m also going deaf after years and years of playing music.

Being away from my family was a huge thing, but the absolute truth is that I have put so much energy into being in Gary Numan’s band and adored every minute of it, but I am an artist and a musician in my own right. I mean no disrespect at all, but there came a point, and due to COVID-19, I spent a lot of time at home and the more I thought about stepping away from being Gary Numan’s bassist, there was no way I could step away from being the artist that I am myself. In that respect, it was easy.

But with the fans, you are right. They are heavily invested in the Gary Numan machine. I have met so many incredible people because of it.

Gary Numan Manchester Albert Halls 10.19
Gary Numan and his band onstage in Manchester; October 2019.
(Picture: Mike Ainscoe)

I saw the tweet that Gary Numan sent out announcing your departure and the messages of support in the replies are wonderful. It must be humbling to get such a response? It’s pure adulation and there was unequivocal support. I guess that backed up your decision?

It did. I have a Facebook group and I’d put a message in there myself before Gary announced it. There are a lot of fans in there and it had hundreds of replies and likes and messages of support. I got hundreds of emails too. Every single one of them expressed a sadness and said that I’d be missed, but they all understood my reasoning and respected it.

Gary Numan’s tweet announcing Tim’s departure.

That has to be so comforting?

It really, really was.

I made so many connections with people that enjoyed my cog of the Gary Numan machine; the light doesn’t go out on that immediately.

Have you listened to the new record?

I was sent it quite a while ago. I’ve watched the videos too. Ade (Fenton – producer) is a good friend of mine as well. I had been in the band since he first produced Gary and to witness the whole journey has been beautiful. It was great to hear the maturity in the record.

I feel that Intruder (our review here) shows a new confidence in his sound; in the industrial sound. It’s his sound. It’s not just trying to sound like Nine Inch Nails or the like.

There were a lot of comparisons ten years ago with Nine Inch Nails. That’s a beautiful thing. But Gary is an innovator. Like all artists, you go through periods where you’re not sure where your comfort zone is. Once he had found this sound, it was like a re-birth. A style within himself. That’s what I noticed the most with the new record.

I think it all started with Splinter in 2013.

That was the step up. It was a pivotal album.

It was. Then Savages and Intruder. That’s the mark of a great artist.

He’s a real renaissance man.

Has the pace of your life changed much with the shift from being a touring musician to solely being an artist?

It hasn’t to be honest. I’ve literally just put my brush down as you got in touch!

I used to own a guitar shop. I sold that in 2010. But since 2010, all I have done is be in studios. If it’s not painting, I’m writing music. I have written a couple of albums myself. I produced a Pop Will Eat Itself record. For the last eleven years, when I’m not touring, I’m in studio painting. When I finished that last big tour with Gary Numan, I just switched from music to painting. I kept the same ethic up but just switched to painting. I’ve kept it up during the pandemic too.

Does working on painting and art help with your mental health?

Definitely. I’m obsessive about most things that I enjoy. Obsessing about perfecting these pieces and what direction I want to go in and the feeling that art gives me is so good for my well-being, it’s so good for my happiness and my spiritual happiness. I work at a really hard pace, pushing myself all the time. I achieve a lot and that gives me self worth and boost my self-esteem because I care about it. Even if the paintings didn’t sell, as long as they’re appreciated is enough for me. The reaction, luckily, has been way better than I thought it would be.

Trellick Tower - Wikipedia
Trellick Tower

Appreciation is really important to me. I like to interpret art and try to see what the artist is trying to achieve. A little like music or poetry. It’s all art. The subjective nature of it all is wonderful. Your pieces are phenomenal. The way that your pieces show buildings is brilliant.

I went to Coventry a few weeks go. After it was bombed during World War Two, in the 50’s and 60’s they built numerous brutal architectural buildings. I really like the mix of old and new buildings there. I used to go to raves there in 1990 and 1991; to The Eclipse. As I was walking through Coventry after the raves, the buildings had a big impact on me. People would go there to study such is the quality. Some of the buildings look like robots! They’re sculptures! The brutal architecture influences me.

I’m working on a piece at the moment that is of a block of flats called Trellick Tower. It’s an abstract version of it, but again, it’s brutal architecture. It’s very Eastern Block. I’ve put my own imagination into it. I like fucking with stuff and turning it into something different. I make my own perspective rules up sometime and elongate things to try and make it fit and make sense.

Is the collection autobiographical? When you look at your pieces, can you picture a time and place?

I can, in a way. But I’m quite a romantic. There are two buildings in Northampton. One is the Working Man’s Club and the other is a cafeteria. I’ve heard stories about those places forever. I love sociology and how people interact in communities, so I can easily romanticise about the buildings and the people in there. That draws me into drawing those buildings. So they’re not really autobiographical, but I’ve been past them so many times. I always look at them with curiosity what has happened and what has happened to the people. It’s interesting to think about what will come of them. Nowadays, I’m not a fan of buildings that are just whacked up in no time for not much money; I admire good architecture but some of the older buildings get modernised but not in the best way. It’s all about just making money.

The exhibition is named after a lyric in a Tom Waits song. What was it that resonated about that lyric for the tile?

The song is called 9th and Hennpin. It’s about a run down area and all the things that go on it that area. One of the lines is ‘rooms smell like diesel, and you take on the dreams of the ones that slept there.’ I think it’s a wonderful line and goes back to the romanticism of it all and the way my imagination works; thinking of the two places in Northampton that I mentioned. I think about this stuff a lot. I use my imagination a lot. I’m a huge Tom Waits fan, and he creates worlds in the songs that he creates. That lyric has always sounded poignant and it fits well with what I am trying to achieve.

Do you ever paint to music?

I go through huge phases where I’ll listen to loads of West Coast hip hop and then Miles Davis and then country blues. At the moment I’m playing a lot of films whilst I paint. At the moment I’ watching of Christopher Walken films. I listen to philosophy podcasts too.

At the moment though, I’m trying to paint in silence. I have to consciously not listen to it. It’s been there in my life forever and at this moment, it isn’t my focus. When I go home at the weekend, I want to look forward to putting on some music and enjoy it differently.

I completely understand that.

Listening to music in a way where you surrender to it is magical.

Have you thought about how the artwork will be presented? Will there be a soundtrack?

That’s a really good question. I have been working on a playlist for about three years! Awesome Tracks 1 it’s called! It is absolutely vital that I have this playlist. At the moment it’s about 19 hours long. I’m going to have to strip it back!

Or, go for twenty hours and do an hour for each piece in the gallery?!

That’s a great idea! There are 21 pieces now though.

So, 21 hours?!

Ha!

The opening night is a three hour event. We’ve had to leave it to the last minute as we don’t know what is happening with restrictions and such but we have decided on that.

There will be a lot of Tom Waits stuff, and blues stuff. Lots of stuff with cool-ass guitars and electronic stuff. A wide range of music that I adore

Music soundtracks a lot of what people do.

It’s incredibly powerful.

Have you had much dialogue with other artists involved with 99 Projects? Maxim from The Prodigy is involved with Dan Pearce isn’t he?

Yes. They’re exhibiting there at the moment. They worked on some sculptures together and they made a film called Hope. I went to the opening night and I met Dan a week or so after down there. We chatted quite a lot about stuff. I had an exchange about the event with Maxim online.

When you were on tour with Gary Numan or Pop Will Eat Itself, were there any favourite countries or cities that you would look forward to visiting for the architecture and how the place looked?

There are quite a lot!

I’ll bet!

No photo description available.
An example of Tim Muddiman’s work.

One of the saddest things for me was that I’ve only been to New Orleans once. To me that is one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. It’s the same with Nashville, although I have been there a few times. I know a lot about both places for the music. I went to Nudie’s Honky Tonk in Nashville and that was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. We were in Nashville for about ten hours!

New York is a favourite. I always adore going there. We did some residency shows at the Gramercy Theatre, opposite the Chelsea Hotel. That was pretty epic. It was amazing because we finished the shows late and we hung out at the venue and then walked to Hell’s Kitchen where we were staying. Walking there through the night was mind blowing. I could do it every night and never get bored of it.

Mexico City is another. I adore Mexico. It’s so artistic. It’s expressive and cultural. Amazing. Berlin is stunning; I nearly moved to Berlin.

I love Berlin. What a city!

Thank you so much for your time, Tim. It has been a pleasure chatting to you.

It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you.

Our thanks goes to Tim Muddiman for his time in chatting to us. Tim’s exhibition opens up on July 1st and runs until 19th July. You can book places for the exhibitions here. Be sure to follow Tim through his Facebook Group and Instagram to keep up with his work.

You can find out more about 99 Projects here.

Tim Muddiman: Website / Twitter / Facebook Group / Instagram

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