Malarko is the type of person you never know whether they're dead serious or just joking around. He's simply restless. You could say his inner child makes a lot of noise, as if trying to get out to the world. His work is intrinsically linked to enjoying the process, and talking to him is easy and fun. We chatted in a flat in the central Raval district of Barcelona. He arrives on his bike to the pottery shop to buy a big amount of supplies. We'll have to wait to see what's his next work or exhibition.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us where are you from?
I’m a regular person from South East London and I’m currently living and working in Barcelona.  I work primarily with ceramics, installation and childish obsessions.
Where does the artist name Malarko come from?
I don’t hold any importance to my name, really, it just happened and stuck. It came from a nickname at school. Malarky means ‘nonsense’ in a UK regional slang. It started as Marky because I acted up in the classroom, and then morphed from there.
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How did you start making art?
I’d been active creatively for many years but a big change happened around 2013, when I moved to Stoke on Trent and started studying ceramics – it is a small, post-industrial city in the Midlands. It has an incredible history in ceramic production and a dedicated Ceramic Museum in the city centre. At the time, it was listed as an arts ‘blackspot’ in the United Kingdom and it was assigned a wedge of arts funding for regeneration, which meant it was more or less free to take a course in ceramics, studio space was cheaper than my phone bill, and then after that, it was possible to get everything you needed free from old factories: clay, tools and even kilns. I’ve always just worked with whatever I could get access to, so that really affected the direction of my work.
Do you remember the first artwork you did?
Hmmm, the first thing I made off my own back when I was eleven or twelve years old was a copy from an Iron Maiden single cover, Number of the Beast.
How would you describe your work?
What I feel is important and that keeps the work interesting to me is that it portrays both a naive energy and a clunky precariousness.
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 Do you consider yourself as a self-taught artist?
As an artist, yes. I learned a lot from school and further studies but I never studied art.
What inspires your work?
I take inspiration from life and bastardize it with a drawn out unnecessarily complicated process. Many directions of work have started from something I’ve found on the street, in a bin or bought at a gyspy market. That’s really where I’m the happiest searching for treasures and encountering ideas. It’s been the same since I was young: I would love going to the dump and searching through the scrapheap. It may be an obsession or a problem. I find that even the context or geography of lost/dead objects can be evocative.
How important do you think it’s to have art school formation if you pretend to live as an artist?
For me, living as I do has nothing really to do with art school. It is a personal choice and if you want it, it’s right there for you. Any hardship is down to you personally. Of course, you need to be motivated and dedicated but that just comes naturally with your choice. I guess many people never take the plunge because you have to be comfy in your own financial confusions, some months with no money for rent and other months buying two new pairs of workouts and dinner for all your friends.
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Which artists have influenced you the most?
I’m super inspired by books and I’m fully aware my ideas are just a conglomeration of all the weird shit that I have read and taken a shining to. Recently, Hirshorn, Brautigan, Eames and some old Duchamp interviews. I also find inspiration in people I know, friends who are artists or otherwise who have quit their jobs or moved away so they can concentrate on what they want to do.
Now, you are living in Barcelona. You do travel a lot, is this for work or for pleasure? Do you produce art in all the places that you go?
Work. Life. There is no difference. When what I had chosen to do with my life became work, everything became a blur. I travel a lot. If I travel to Athens, I make some paintings, visit some museums, hang with some local artists and go visit the Parthenon. That’s fully work, but it’s also what I would choose to do anyway, so it’s life in the end. For tax reasons, the answer is yes.
What were you doing before you moved to Barcelona?
I was living and working in London. Just before I moved here I was fortunate enough to exhibit in Airspace Gallery in Stoke on Trent as part of the British Ceramics Biennial 2017. This was a big deal for me, as five years earlier – in the same place – I was scavenging in abandoned factories for what I needed to make work in this medium and now I was being paid to exhibit with internationally acclaimed artists and ceramicists that had been working with clay since before I was born.
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What differences do you find between Barcelona and London’s young art scenes?
I can’t really claim an in-depth knowledge of either as I tend to stay a little peripheral to these scenes for whatever reason. I do however acknowledge in London, nearly every artist I know, was on or is on state benefits, working tax credits or housing, or normally both. London can be very expensive so it’s useful to have this to ease the pressure. From what I understand, in Barcelona you have to pay to be self-employed, which I can’t imagine is much of an incentive for embarking on a creative venture.
Some of your pieces were recently exhibited in Barcelona among other artist’s works (such as Joshua Perkins, Cristina Lina, etc.) How difficult do you think it is to be able to show your work in this city being an artist?
If you want to do it, you will find a way. In many respects it’s similar to London: the gallery stick to the same old thing, and the good stuff happens when artists are creative in all aspects of work including how/where to show.
What are the things you enjoy the most about doing your work?
Uncontrollable aspects, both succeeding and failing, are what I find most fun. Working with and other artists, starting projects with no idea what will happen or even glazing a ceramic and not knowing what will happen in the kiln is where I find the magic happens.
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What are the things you find hard about being an artist?
The hardest thing (and I’m not complaining here) is after a few days off or not making any artwork, I start to feel anxious and guilty about not working hard enough. I can’t really stop and I don’t really want to.
What challenges have you faced?
Basically, not ever really knowing what I’m doing most days and trying not to laugh at the fact I’ve just spent five hours trying to find the perfect butternut squash shape to make a mould from.
What is your most popular piece? Why do you think it’s so popular?
Recently, as part of the BCB, I made a ceramic/concrete sculpture that was a working proposal of a drinking fountain for dogs. It was super popular, maybe, because it was a new thing for me to have movement in my work; perhaps because the movement of water made the piece more dynamic. I don’t know, sometimes the planets just align.
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What was your favourite toy as a child?
What did you want to be as a kid?
I didn’t know, or really care. My dad worked from home and seemed to have a pretty sweet set up, so my first idea was something like that. I didn’t want to be an artist. Not because I wasn’t interested, just because I didn’t realize you could do it for a job. I genuinely didn’t meet anyone who worked as an artist until around 2007 or 2008, when I was studying Architecture in Newcastle. I was making zines, and paintings and stuff in the evenings, but just as a side project because it was fun. I remember thinking, I could just chill and make whatever I wanted all day, why am I not doing that?
Can you tell us a bit about your future plans?
I’m making some work as part of a few different group shows in the United Kingdom in the coming months. I will try to set up a proper studio here and I have plans to travel and make some projects and works with other artists I know from other countries. Also, get a haircut, cut my nails, brush my teeth, etc.
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