History Lesson: Beat This! A Hip-Hop History
Photographed on the way back from getting chips one Friday a few months ago. Original artwork by: http://brokenfingaz.com/
Interview: Rough, Stomie & OneMor
Date: June 2002
Location: Clapham, London
Interview / words: Des Berry
2011: Setting the scene. After a recent visit to DJ Food’s blog (a source of great inspiration and recommended to all) I thought I would post this interview with artists Rough, Stormie & OneMor from 2002. Rough has recently been involved in a huge mural and gallery show in Vancouver and you can read about that on DJ Foods blog here.
This interview took place in Lavender Hill, South London on a very wet day in June 2002. The guys were great and really easy to interview. Rough gave me a copy of the Rigidmouth book which is pictured below.
The photographer took some great photos but for some reason decided to give them to a competitive magazine when the PR people requested them. As a result we never got use them as they had already featured elsewhere. I think this might have been the last interview I did for Breakin’ Point. Back to 2002…
What A Load Of Rubbish.
Is it me or does it occasionally rain televisions? Tell me if it happens country wide, because in the capital it seems to be a regular phenomenon. You’ll wake up one morning and there is likely to be a couple of TVs on separate street corners on the way to the tube. Or if its not TVs its a mattress. Forget this low paid writing lark I’m getting shares in a mattress company, because round my way people are buying them silly and throwing out the old ones.
Renowned graffiti writers Rough, Stormie & OneMor are three artists who look upon such streets as an art supplier ready for pilfering. After years of seeing walls and trains as a canvas to their work they now see the potential in the very rubbish that we discard every day. From the cardboard that boxed that new hi fi to the door off that burnt out car that has sat on your street and doubled up as a tramps toilet for the last few months they can see the beauty in it. Okay their not using TVs and a mattress but you get the idea.
‘Everything we’ve used we’ve found. For example on the street or in skips,’ Rough explains ‘You’ve always got to look in skips as you never know what’ll you find. One mans rubbish after all is another mans treasure.’
From the rubbish around them each artist has created something from those discarded objects. Where the likes of you and me might curse and get on the phone to the council to pick up this trash the trio have taken it and transformed it into original, innovative and highly desirable pieces of art. Rough has created three dimensional works from wood and similar materials. Stormie is producing drawings and paintings on card and handmade cardboard boxes and OneMor is painting directly on to scrap metal obtained from wrecked cars.
‘Sometimes its good to be limited because it makes you more creative. It pushes you harder,’ states OneMor. ‘If you have everything then you are spoilt for choice. If you’ve got it hard looking for stuff things can go mad. Its not always bad to be restricted. I’m working on bits of burnt out cars. Where do I find them? There just around wherever you find burnt out cars! You know that spot where you always find a burnt out car!’
Together the trio are pulling together their rubbish and working on a project called ‘Third’. All have worked with each other before, but this is the first time as a ‘threesome’ to put it politely.
‘Three plays a big part in this project. Three artists. Three mediums, cardboard, wood and steel and finally the third generation of an item. That’s the main focus, the third generation’ OneMor points out. Someone owns something and then discards it. What we are doing is taking what has been discarded and re-generating it back into a worthy item.’
The third life of a item.
‘We are bringing bits of the environment that we work within, into the gallery,’ OneMor continues. ‘Its important to lose that transition where a bit of graffiti has been ripped out of its environment and put in a sterile gallery. If you paint in another environment you find that they are an integral part of each other.’
‘People can often put graffiti on a nice clean canvas and hang it in a gallery, but it loses a certain edge,’ Stormie adds.
Whatever your views on graffiti and street art the project should help bring the medium to an even wider audience. People who aren’t familiar with late night track walks or train yards. However don’t be fooled in to thinking its another gallery exhibition filled with colourful pieces hanging on canvas to a hip hop / breakdance soundtrack.
‘As a project Third is going to be pretty ground breaking’ Rough points out. ‘We’re using the graffiti moniker, but its all about furniture, lighting and installations. There is no graffiti on canvas at this exhibition.’
‘The kind of art we do is a very collaborative form of work. Most group shows you go to, there might be 10 different artists and they are all saying something different. What we’re doing with this is trying to say a similar thing but through a different lens.’
The trio have a long history in graffiti. Having met in the early 90’s they have collaborated ever since, both together and alongside Ikonoklast, a collective of left of field artists featuring the likes of Part 2, Juice 126 and Prize amongst its members. Individually they have exhibited and painted for clients as diverse as Budweiser, Nike, Size to the Bug Bar, Brixton. This year saw the publication of Rough’s book ‘Rigidmouth’ containing contributions from all three as well as others such as Attica Blues’ Charlie Dark, Juice 126 and Lucy McLauchlan.
Rough was in his early teens when someone came in to his school with the book Subway Art. A starting point for many in the early UK graffiti scene.
‘I thought I’ve got to try that out. So I researched the whole dynamics of it. Things like how the paint works, how you can get it, how its made, different surfaces, characters, letters. I wanted to do everything. Like straight away. Portraits, letters, wild style. It took me 16 years to get there and I’m probably still not there.’
‘I was doing both illegal and legal stuff. I wasn’t just bombing. I’d go up to people and say you’ve got a nice wall there can I paint it? If the answer was yes I’d draw something up, show them and paint it. I wanted to build up a reputation as a good artist. Be good at my trade and craft. That was the main focus, just to be a good artist. Its still my focus.’
OneMor grew up in Edinburgh. ‘When I started painting I was like the second generation of painters, I’m talking about a year or so. There was about ten painters around Edinburgh and I hooked up with 2 guys and we started feeding ideas off each other. We we’re quite isolated living in a small city and we couldn’t really go out on a train and see stuff.’
Stormie’s start was even more isolated then OneMor’s.
‘Living in Perth Western Australia, I was on my own, because the scene was non-existent. I didn’t know any other writers. There wasn’t any. I used to go out and paint on my own.’
Trouble with law resulted in his parents sending him to his grandparents in Wales. As OneMor points out he was sent the other way. But it was a move that was of great benefit.
‘Even though it was a lot colder over here, the good thing was the access point from Wales to the rest of the country. Which was great. I just went out and did things at different events that I would never have got in Perth.’
With their commercial work often dictated to by marketing people the Third project gives the trio the chance to display their work to a wider audience. One that is not too familiar with late night track walks.
‘The good thing about this project is that we can do our thing on our own terms’ OneMor adds, ‘ we can show what we really do rather then the commercial aspect. A lot of people don’t tend to often see what you do on walls apart from other writers.’
Third opens this month at The Maharishi Gallery, Covent Garden, London. Rough’s work as one third of The Reptiles is due for release on Jazz Fudge and a book from Ikonoklast is planned for late 2002.
Originally published in Breakin’ Point 03.04 August 2002
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