Numbing rain, the threat of snow and February gloom may be prevalent across most of London at the moment, yet such dreariness has been banished from the Hayward Gallery, where the artworks filling the halls seem designed to cast joie de vivre and
"I didn’t want the Joy in People title, but the curator and marketing were very keen – it’s obviously very uplifting. But I’m not necessarily a very joyful person. I mean, I try to be, we all try to be… But the one I really wanted was “Animal, Vegetable, Pop Music”, but it was thought to be too obscure. Then I gave a talk and someone said to me at the end – “Your work is all about joy in people” – which was weird because I’ve shown the work about the miner’s strike and the piece about taking the car around America that was destroyed in Baghdad. And there’s a lot of joy in these projects, but also a lot of unhappiness as well. But as a title, it just stuck. And I thought, OK, let’s make something positive, because I do have a tendency to be quite a negative person. In a way I make art to keep myself interested, happy and engaged with the world. Making art gives you a bit of control over things. Being a part of these things has helped me a lot."
"I make art to keep myself interested, happy and engaged with the world. Making art gives you a bit of control over things. For me, it’s so very important, and being a part of these things keeps me going..."
February gloom may be prevalent right now yet such dreariness has been banished from London's Hayward Gallery, where the artworks filling the halls seem designed to cast joie de vivre and good humour all around. With David Shrigley's darkly comic cartoons and installations occupying the top floor, today the main halls of the gallery have opened to welcome visitors inside the first ever retrospective of Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller, whose thoughts on cycling also feature in the latest issue of AnOther Magazine.
Entitled Joy In People, the exhibition is an erratic journey through the tangential forays of a very modern artist; indeed an artist whose works do not at first seem to lend themselves to incarceration inside a space. From his early interventions on university noticeboards and the creation of slogan T-shirts, a film about international Depeche Mode fans, 1997s Acid Brass, the Turner winning reenactment of the Battle of Orsgreave, right up to 2011's 3D swirl of Texan bats leaving a cave; what most defines Deller is how difficult it is to look at his pieces together and find a comprehensive order or mission statement. As he says himself, "I like to lose control"; with his works emerging first from the boundaryless world of his passions and interests before blasting out into the world to shape themselves through the people and events they collide with; be they crowds of thousands, or an individual's double take on the street. And indeed, this freewheeling anarchic show abounds with the joy of the title, which is entirely infectious to all who pass through the door.
Joy in People is at the Hayward Gallery until May 14 2012. The exhibition catalogue Jeremy Deller: Joy in People is available at the Hayward Gallery Shop or online.
Text by Tish Wrigley