This is my studio. It’s where I think up everything and try things out, but in fact almost all of my work actually happens somewhere else: in galleries and museums, as you might expect, but also outside in public spaces. I played in bands for years and I like using cheap, commercially produced multiples associated with that kind of culture – posters, billboards, beer mats, badges, videos, songs, CDs and neon signs – alongside more traditional art forms. I’m interested in making art that responds to complicated situations, talks to different audiences, explores non-art places and tests unusual ideas for difficult times.
In 1994 I got this tattoo on my back at Terry’s Tattoo Parlour in Glasgow. Since then I have constructed a series of projects exploring ideas engaging Real Life in exhibitions, performances and events all round the world.
I had an exhibition with Collective Gallery in Edinburgh recently celebrating this project: 20 Years of Real Life: Free Instruments for Teenagers, where we encouraged the 17,000 visitors who came along to play music in a ‘rehearsal room’ with 20 sets of musical instruments, each representing a year of the Real Life project. At the end of the show we gave everything away free to anyone who wanted it, so long as you were born after I got the tattoo. The teenagers who got the instruments subsequently became five new bands and we worked with them for 18 months afterwards, finally making a record together and launching it with a mini-festival at Calton Hill in Edinburgh. It was great fun. I hope the bands remember me when they’re rich and famous rock stars!