Ferris McGuinty is a local Cornish artist whose work spans across sculpture and assemblage to furniture and lighting. He collects humble pieces of stone, wood and wire and constructs them to become characterful and playful forms that magically maintain a sense of balance between line, colour, texture and volume. The result is captivating, free from ego and costly materials, each piece is rich with authenticity and charm like no other.
Ferris took some time over Easter to catch up and share more of his story and it's an absolute pleasure to go out with bang - as this will be the last interview in the Plucky Ones series - with such an incredible talent. Thank-you, Ferris!
Please tell us about your background and journey to become an artist.
I'm a West Country boy, born in Somerset and now living in Cornwall. I moved down here 18 years ago to attend what was then, the "Falmouth College of Arts", to study Fine Art Sculpture. I loved the place so much, I've made it my home ever since, albeit with little flurries elsewhere at times; it somehow has a magic draw that lures you back!
When I finished art school, I felt I could take on anything, wow, I was wrong! It has taken me a while to find my voice with my practice.
When I was at art school, I was fascinated with the ideas behind scale. I used to make intricate and small models, tableaux and dioramas. Some of which I would photograph and the images would pose as real life spaces or situations, and some models I would leave as stand alone objects. They were really great. One thing I learned from this body of work, was that for its success it relied on its accessibility. The works really engaged the viewer, whether they were someone well versed in reading art or someone who had little experience and were just curious. The "hook" with this work was the shifts in the scales. It had the effect of being able to pull people in, putting them in an omnipotent potion. This then allowed the layers to unfold and reveal themselves.
A lot of time has passed since then in life and work, and I'm now, in answer to your question, I think only really still starting the journey.
I had a kind of rebirth in 2009 when living in Australia. It was a very creative period for me and alongside my own practice a new way of making emerged in the down-times. This was where Ferris was born. Ferris McGuinty is the pseudonym I now work under.
What does a typical Ferris McGuinty day look like? And what projects are you currently working on?
I'm not sure whether it's a good or bad thing, but there never seems anything typical to my days. When I'm making work, it usually begins with a lot of procrastinating! it just takes a bit of time to get over that blank page, and then generally I'm off and absorbed, on a path and in a direction that I try and let take me anywhere.
When I am producing work, it really does become a journey, and when I find that thread which appears, it becomes a lot easier. My work is typically process led. It really allows the materials to lead the conversation. The works generally form concise bodies that read better when seen together. At the moment, it's quite exciting. I'm producing a series of work for a gallery in New York.
You speak of your art as, "A reflection of the fragility of the world that surrounds us". Can you tell us your thoughts and processes behind the work.
When I embark on a new body of work, quite often I wont know where it might take me. I'm really interested in the tensions and balance created using the materials I gather together. The compositions seems to intuit themselves. There is a dynamic moment in the making where the elements play with each other until they find that still place.
How does living in Cornwall influence you?
I've had a connection to Cornwall all my life. From coming down in the summers to visit family as a kid, to eventually studying here and making it home. What I find most inspiring about living down here , beside the obvious stunning natural beauty, is the space. There's room to breathe and think. I like living outside of the thick of it. Even though I'm not living in London I am surrounded by incredibly creative and interesting people, without any of the pretension or the bravado. It's a very freeing and nurturing place to be making work.
Acts of courage, however big or small can often have an impact to oneself or others, what's been your bravest moment?
I really can't profess to having any moments of braveness that I can recall. But I have born witness to two occasions which have blown me away. My wife giving birth to our children showed me beyond anything I have seen what it means to have courage and bravery.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would this be and what would you hope to make?
I have never made work collaboratively and I'm not sure how it would work. But recently I have been fantasising about my work on a public scale. I imagine it would be exciting to collaborate with an architect and to explore the assemblages on a much larger scale. I love the idea of the works coming out of the frames and mounted on entire elevations of buildings. The Hearst Tower in New York, designed by Norman Foster, used the work of Richard Long beautifully in this instance. I think there should be more public art.
Which creative plucky person/people do you admire and why?
James Turrell. If you haven't come across his work yet I really encourage you to discover him. I remember the first time experiencing his work in the flesh. It was in the Gagosian Gallery in Kings Cross in 2010 and it was a life changer.
With out wanting to sound too cosmic, his work elevated you to a higher place and grounds you at the same time. He is the master of light and perception. His work has changed the way I look at things. We are really lucky to have one of his "Sky Holes" installed down near Penzance