Ketih Bloody Mary Q&A

With just over a week away from the launch of  ‘Unfashioned Creatures’ an exhibition by Ketih Bloody Mary, we took some time to ask Keith a few burning questions we had in our head during her residency… and she was kind enough to shed some light on them, so here we go! 

Right off the top, the questions we are all want to ask… In your practice you go by the name of “Keith Bloody Mary”, can you tell us the story behind it?

Back in the day I founded a collective, and worked with a bunch of lovely people. It was called No Official Name. For a couple of years we made publications and put on events in places (mainly pubs) in Nottingham. For our launch we got everyone who came to choose there own ‘No Official Name’ – where you pick the name of your fave creative for the first name and your fave beverage for the second name! One of my fave artists is Keith Tyson and I must have been making myself a few hangover drinks back then, because I don’t drink Bloody Mary’s that often now!

I thought it would be funny to use the name for my artwork, stay a little bit anonymous  – its more fun that way! It reminds me to not take the art world so seriously! I think I get away with more things being a ‘Keith’ too!

What role do you think art plays in our everyday life’s?

I always make a distinction between art and creativity! For me, Art is the stuff that’s bought, sold, debated over, shown in white cubes, and trends because of the likes of Saatchi – it’s essentially part of a business. Creativity is all around us, it’s humming made up tunes, using social media, knitting baby clothes. Art can be creative and creativity can turn into art!

I don’t want to say something corny, like it’s important for the soul or anything like that – but it’s definitely fun to be creative! My favourite art gets me laughing in an art gallery and makes me break the silence – that’s what it’s all about for me personally – giving me a good giggle!

Bonus question time: What book are you currently reading and why?

I’m not a massive fiction fan, so I’m mainly reading stuff for my MA. Having said that, I’ve read Frankenstein for that (hint hint, that’s where the title for the exhibition comes from). I like graphic novels and zines when I have time to read! I can’t wait to read the two I’ve just bought… Afterman: A Zoology of the Future by Dougal Dixon – which as far as I can tell is a fictitious sort of encyclopaedia of future animals – the illustrations look mad. I also can’t wait to read Daniel Locke’s ‘Out of Nothing’ – I met him at a zine fair and I think we love each other’s work! I’ve also just ordered an illustrated book by James Lovelock (a ninety something ecology philosopher) – he’s got a dismal outlook on the future of the world but he laughs all the time! He’s my kind of man!

‘Participatory art’ and ‘collaborative practice’ are some of the hottest terms in the arts as of late, what is your view on their value, and is it something you personally encounter a lot in your practice?

I’ve worked in learning and engagement teams since graduating and believe very much in collaborative, peer-led projects and all that good wholesome good stuff. I’m not sure how I feel about art academics deciding that that way of working is the next big thing – but if it makes artists and curators involve more people – it can’t be a bad thing!

I’ve loved doing workshops with people at Wigan STEAM – participants always make collages I’m jealous of – being able to have a zine available in the space during my exhibition that is made by a group of people I’ve worked alongside will be really lovely!

Looking forward towards the launch of your exhibition at Wigan STEAM, what are you most exited about in terms of this project?

Oh everything! I love making work, I love hanging out in the space with all you lovely people and watching the kids make star wars themed stuff – they’ve been having a great time which has kept my energy up!

I’ve never made this many pieces for one theme and never used (spoiler alert) black backgrounds, which I geekily find really exciting haha!

You work a lot with collage and words, is this something that happened organically, or is there a more deliberate reason behind it?

Organically is a really relevant word for the project haha! I’ve always collaged, but moved into more conceptual stuff for my degree – it was actually more sciencey looking stuff. I fell out of love with making art after my degree (many people do it seems) and stopped making for a bit. I thought I best get back into enjoying it, so I started to mess about with the medium I enjoy the most. With no context or reason to make work, I started off by making puns with the images and it kind of snowballed from there!

Bonus answer…

Beef Hula Hoops are my fave crisps at the moment!


‘Unfashioned Creatures’ by Keith Bloody Mary exhibition launch will take place on the 11th August at Wigan STEAM, 1pm-3pm. You can book your place here.