Artist of the Week: Phill McKenna

Words by Sinead Nunes, Editor

We talked to artist Phill McKenna about art degrees, Twitter as an online gallery resource and Liverpool Biennial 2014.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

I’d probably describe myself as a passionate creator. The act of creating something that causes people to feel something, to maybe look at something differently, is all that I desire to achieve from my art.

What medium do you work with and why?

During my degree I worked primarily in video and photography, but since graduation I have been working in oil paint. The freedom it allows for work and reworking is unparalleled in my opinion.

Why art?

As cliche as it sounds, art has always been an escape for me. If I was ever bored then I would doodle on my school work, if I could not sleep then I would take my camera out and photograph the night. It helped me deal with the negatives of life, and as a result became such a positive constant over the years.

unnamed-4What are your main preoccupations in your work?

When I paint I always try to paint exactly what image/ idea I have in my mind. I always want my finished works to be exactly how I first imagined them to be, but I find that I can change too much of it and lose the initial idea. I find it hard to take a step back and see if the piece works from a different perspective. It’s something that I am working on and seeing more success from.

What projects are you working on right now?

Currently I have two projects on the go; the first is a series of landscapes from a trip to Loch Lomond – they are oil on canvas and all about 3ft x 3ft. The second project is based on the buildings of Liverpool. Everything from the famous skyline of the city to the individual buildings I grew up adoring. I have  branched out a bit for the Liverpool project and have begun a small sculptural piece, just to add new dimensions to the project.

Where do you like to go to see art in Liverpool and beyond?

Its hard to find the time to go see all the exhibitions that I want to, but my favourite haunt will always be the Walker Art Gallery. So much history sitting next to great contemporary works, there is always something new to be seen. Some of the smaller local galleries always have great pieces on show, the likes of Nick Corke, Fallout Factory, and METAL are all great places doing good things for local art.

unnamedHow do you find Twitter as a platform for your work?

To say that Twitter has helped my work is an understatement. I have been able to reach out to companies, galleries, artists, and collectors, or just fans of art that I would have never have had the opportunity to show my work to. It is a very useful tool for getting feedback on ideas or work I’ve shared, and has led to my work constantly developing to higher standards that I had never imagined.

This is a big year for Liverpool with Liverpool Biennial 2014 and so much else happening – what are you looking forward to most?

The Biennial is one of my favourite art events. I don’t do much research into who will be showing because I love the initial emotional response I get from seeing the works. “Grand Organ” by Danica Dakic from the 2010 Biennial was just incredible, a perfect relationship between the work and its display environment. The other event which I have loved in past years, and look forward to again,  is the Sefton Park Lantern Festival. Theatre, art, music, and giant lantern puppets, all set in the beautiful park. One of the best evening events on the Liverpool calendar. / @philbit1


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