Liam Mertens: Colin’s Children Slept Outside

Liam Mertens

Artwork’s Title: Colin’s children slept outside

Materials Used: Acrylic on Canvas

Year: 2019

Studio Based: London

Colin's children slept outside, Acrylic on Canvas, 190x160cm, 2019 sml
Liam Mertens, Colin’s children slept outside, Acrylic on Canvas, 190 x 160 cm, 2019

Art Verge

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

Liam Mertens

The composition often comes from pencil drawings I have been working on. Although colour is vital to my practice I only begin to play with colour on the canvas, sometimes the colour works first time around, others I need to paint over and over until I find the right harmonies within each work. It is all very intuitive even the drawing process. I think my most exciting paintings emerge through impulsive decision making.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Intense, awkward and loud.

Would you use another three different words to describe the ‘Colin’s children slept outside’ painting?

Fun, obnoxious and strange.

How did you come up with this painting idea? Is there any story behind this painting?

I spent the first 5 years of my life in Blenheim at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. I have always vividly remembered the Candy Corn sweets in a pick and mix bag from the local Dairy (corner store). I only recently discovered that they are associated with Halloween in North America, I have always associated them with the long dry summers of my childhood catching crayfish in the estuary at the end of my road. For me this painting is an exploration of cultural perspectives.

What colour is used the most in this painting?

I can’t entirely remember but I think Magenta was used quite a lot.

What would be the best way to exhibit your work?

With a lot of space and all together. There’s something magic that happens when they all feed off one another to balance a room.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

There are so many for different reasons. The most influential on my practice are those I interact with from day to day. Primarily my partner, Lydia Larson is an endless source of inspiration, objectivity and encouragement, along with my cohort and tutors at The Slade.

How do you know when this painting was finished?

This painting sat in my studio unfinished, for at least a month, while I worked on others. Then one day I just knew what I had to do to resolve the image.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

I am currently in between my studio at The Slade and my new studio in Hackney Wick. My previous studio at The Slade was split between two opposing walls, which was quite beneficial when thinking about how paintings might converse in an exhibition.

Is there any particular message that you wish your viewers can take from this painting?

There is no one right way of looking at something.

What does your mum think about your art?

My mother is an artist and she is extremely proud and supportive. My parents live in New Zealand, so I don’t get to see them as much as I would like but feel incredibly supported.

Which exhibition did you visit last?

Pierre Bonnard at Tate Modern.

Which are your plans for the near future?

I have my final dissertation to write and I’m starting on a new body of work in the studio. There’s an exciting group show on the horizon and I’m always applying for new opportunities.

Additional Works

Watching the past pass, Acrylic on Canvas, 220x200cm, 2019sml
Liam Mertens, Watching the past pass, Acrylic on Canvas, 220 x 200 cm, 2019
Brains Park, Acrylic on Canvas, 200x180cm, 2019sml
Liam Mertens, Brains Park, Acrylic on Canvas, 200 x 180 cm, 2019
It's the only way to stay awake at night, Acrylic on Canvas, 190x170cm, 2019 sml
Liam Mertens, It’s the only way to stay awake at night, Acrylic on Canvas, 190 x 170 cm, 2019

© All images are courtesy of the artist

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