Interview with Jock Mooney
PAJ - What are the influences completing ‘Discontinued’ ?
JM - The actual shape of cardboard, whenever you make lots of small scale things you can’t just present them on a table, which I have done in the past, you have to find some way of presenting them. At the time I was also making wreath sort of shapes which was based on an idea I had a long time ago visiting a French graveyard which is very different to a British graveyard because they are covered in these ceramic wreaths that are very bright and gaudy and they’ve also got lots of fake flowers all over the place, I really liked that, cause it was quite unexpected cause if u saw fake flowers in a British graveyard you’d kind of think, that’s a bit stingey and a bit tacky isn’t it but also I thought in a way it means they never wilt or die never look awful, that was one of the elements I wanted to bring into it. And also the title ‘discontinued’ came to my head early on when I producing this and shaped then what came after that because it was a word that worked on different levels, discontinued obviously if you look at it very basically is ending something. The way I wanted to use cardboard boxes as a display is vaguely monumental-esque shape, like a memorial, I like the idea of warehouses full of retrieved stock, toys that are withdrawn, discontinued.
PAJ - How to you make the models ?
JM - The models themselves are just made out of a plastic modelling compound. Because in 2004 I started making the work called inventory and there was an opportunity to make work in ceramics and i found the process completed killed any creativity what so ever and it took hours or weeks to make one thing, and I was crap at it as well, which isn’t surprising cause it’s a highly skilled thing to do and so I just got a really cheap tub of moulding material, that drys out, not like clay but weird stuff actually, then painted it with enamel paint and it kind of had a ceramicy looking surface, and it was something that I could make very very quickly, so going from ages and ages making one mould for one fucking thing I sit in an afternoon and just make stuff as it occurred or just make stuff and then play around with stuff so it was quite liberating and that way of working is the way I’ve worked ever since really.
PAJ - What was your work like before you started doing the modelling then ?
JM - Very different. I made a film with a dying mouse in it that got a lot of press attention because it was in an expo and animal rights protesters went all over it and it got in The Sun newspaper. It was at that expo that one of my friends made a felt twin towers with Mickey Mouse flying into it. And I completely separate had a film with a dying mouse in it. So the press really jumped on these two mice things and it got a lot of attention. and there is still a website that you can find it on that has a picture of the twin towers thing and it says that I did it. And its like not my work. Its got a photograph with a caption underneath that says Jock Mooney’s Mickey’s Taliban adventures, but its not actually mine. But the film that I made sparked a lot of controversy because it had a dying mouse in it, which I didn’t kill, I found a mouse that was dying in my stair well, and how do you kill a mouse? and I thought oh I have to put it out of its misery and I couldn’t do it so I filmed it instead which is maybe a little bit more perverse. I think that experience and the subsequent reaction that happened afterwards made me realise if you want to, its not difficult to make shocking, controversial work.
PAJ - Whose work most influences you? We’ve talked about how cultural influences come into your work but is there an artist particularly?
JM - I like Claus Oldenberg a lot, his big big sculptures don’t necessarily appeal to me a lot but I do like them, I prefer his drawings because I think they’re got a lot more interesting, they make you use your imagination a lot more, and the small scale stuff that I do, in a big macho kind of sculptural environment you always get people saying “so, is this a maquette?” and you go “ well, No!” and I quite often prefer peoples models for things that the actual finished thing. Claus Oldenberg drawing of a lipstick in Piccadilly Circus, even if scruffily done, I think is a lot more interesting that seeing, even though its not there, BAM ! Something that’s just been plonked there and that’s it, because that’s not using your imagination as much.
PAJ – Your work has a gory factor and often that can be misconceived as miserable but this piece is enjoyable and fun, although gory in appearance there is something underneath that which is humorous.
JM - I think within the wreath things I liked, there is one wreath that is quite close to a real wreath. Its got flowers and leaves on it, there is one that is the complete polar opposite, its got skulls on it, quite unashamedly basic but like a real wreath, rather than glossing over what death is or going here it is, but its all circular, I really enjoyed making stuff that was horrible and gory because it was enjoyable and fun and funny, I also quite liked making the severed hands and stuff, its like you’re worst fear o
f what can happen to you, well, one of the worst things.
PAJ – Can you discuss the significance of the wreath with eggs?
JM - Well that was, I really like fried eggs, not to eat, but just the way that they look, I like dropping in lots of things that people can choose to or not to read as a symbol, something along the lines of the discointuined theme, I think that’s about as discontinued as you can get really, seeing as an egg is obviously a symbol or life and if you fry it, then its “well, that’s that one fucked!”
PAJ - How do you feel about exhibiting abroad?
JM - Well, I’ve only had one proper exhibition abroad that I’ve gone and set up, that was in Lithuania, that was good. Other that that, I’ve had stuff in art fairs through the Vane Gallery, in Newcastle, its not the same as going abroad and putting on a major show or anything.
PAJ - How was the work received in Lithuania? Its quite a British/US/Frence cultural influenced work?
JM - I kind of like to think that I don’t make things from a context of a how a large group of people might see them, I make them on the basis of how one person see them, they can obviously talk about it with someone else but I think the country is neither here nor there. I think there is a kind of Japanese influence in there, loads of toys that influenced it, I think hopefully to an extent it is hopefully quite universal but there is always going to be something if you make a work which hundreds of factors/assets to it, one person notices one thing and another person doesn’t notice at all.
The interview took place at The Cluny, Newcastle upon Tyne, one bright & windy October day in 2007 / it was the day my bicycle tyre punctured.