Notes on Episode 3 of the Cultural Peeps Podcast: Paul Merrick
36 Lime Street is a fascinating site and a part of the cultural fabric of Newcastle. It’s the oldest and largest studio group in the North East, which houses a really diverse mix of creative talent, including designers,sculptors, painters, artists, jewellers, graphic designers and photographers.
I’ve known today’s guest, Paul Merrick for around 20 years, but only really worked closely with him in the last 10 year (so from around 2008 onward).
Paul and I taught together when I was leading the Art Museum & Gallery Education Postgraduate programme at Newcastle University. Each year, as part of that course, we gave students the opportunity to programme and deliver a learning/ education event for a local school in BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Paul was assigned to our project through BALTIC’s Learning Team (where he was a member of a ‘pool’ of freelance Artists that were pulled in depending on their particular expertise to help design and deliver workshops, sessions and events).
At the start of our conversation for this Podcast I asked Paul how he defines himself and his own practice, and he gave the answer ‘I’m an Artist ‘ – something that comes through as being really important to him.
As a practising Artist, Paul is represented by Workplace, which is a commercial gallery based in Gateshead and London. Through this link, we go on to talk about his solo shows, commissions that he has undertaken and how these all fit together to create a career in the cultural sector.
Another interesting feature of our conversation (and of this series) is how Paul has continually maintained strong links with other Practitioners and Artists – something which connects him both to Workplace Gallery and many of the other opportunities that have arisen for him professionally.
As mentioned earlier in these notes, Paul has a hugely versatile range of skills and is great at working with different audiences (particularly on visual arts based projects). This is one of the reasons why he finds himself in demand in different educational settings, regularly working with audiences and staff at galleries and museums like BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Woodhorn Museum as well as as a guest lecturer at Northumbria University.
We talked about public perceptions of Artists and why he wanted to be an artist. In this part of the conversation, Paul references a Gerald Scarfe Documentary called ‘Scarfe on Art’, which was aired on the BBC in 1991. I hadn’t seen this documentary before the interview, but subsequently hunted it down on YouTube and discovered that it focuses on the economic explosion within the Art Market in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It’s a fascinating film and Paul recalls a scene where Ian Davenport paints a large canvas using a methodical and repetitive technique and then discusses the work’s sale. This is a moment he cites as memorable in helping him shape his ideas about the possibility of a pursing a career as an Artist (you can see this in the film at 17:10 mins) .
A quick note about the sound of this recording. The conversation took in Paul’s studio, which is why it is a little bit echoy! I opted to record the interview in the studio because I love going there. There is always something interesting and exciting to see. On this occasion there were lots of different sized, felt covered card tables. These were various shades of green which had all faded differently – some through time and some through exposure to direct sunlight. Paul had used these to make make sort of sculptural painting/ installation which was titled ‘Below The Line’. I’ve popped a link to this in both the podcast description and also into the web link list below. Through this link to Paul’s website, you can also explore some of his other work as well as his biography.
So…after the tour of his studio, we made a pot of coffee and settled down for a chat! I hope you find the episode interesting and useful.
For further information about Paul, please visit:
Paul Merrick Biography (Workplace):
Below the line (Paul Merrick Art-work mentioned in the introduction):
Links to Podcast content:
Lime Street Studios:
Gerald Scarfe Documentary:
Newcastle University Fine Art:
Arts Council England:
Don’t forget you can follow the Podcast at: