Alexa Hall’s interview with British artist and writer Harland Miller, accompanied by Lonny Spence’s photos, in the current issue of Varón is a great read. Miller, though represented by some of the world’s best-known galleries and with an impressive track record of museum shows under his belt, is arguably somewhat neglected in the field of what gets commonly lumped in under the banner of ‘Brit Art’.
Miller, whose debut novel ‘Slow Down Arthur, Stick To Thirty’ was published to critical acclaim in 2000, was initially known primarily as a writer and it wasn’t until his work as a visual artist was later equally praised, that he gained attention as a painter. Bucking the lingering differentiations that still make it difficult for anyone to be taken too seriously in either discipline should they choose to do both, Miller still remains something of a cult figure within the UK’s persistently media-friendly firmament of art superstars.
However, this seems of little interest to either Miller or his interviewer as they embark on a rambling conversation in which everything from Miller’s sojourn in a house of transvestite hookers in New York to his fascination with the Goth festivals of Grimsby are discussed. Quite expectedly, a lot of the conversation centres on the painter from Yorkshire’s literary interests and activities.
In what appears to be one of the emergent Varón’s regular features – an interview with a contemporary artist – cultural journo Alexa Hall gets to grips with the British artist.
Those familiar with Harland Miller’s paintings based on the classic Penguin paperback cover designs probably readily make the connection between these and his literary activities, though the artist himself seems to have an ambivalent view. This is not an interview set up with the purpose of any particular product to plug, but rather in the tradition of a reasonably intimate portrait. Miller candidly gives insight into his stop-start creative processes and the various personal influences that have made him the kind of artist he is; that, for example, mean that he is still working on his long awaited novel about the Yorkshire Ripper. His blunt opinions on the relative stamina and discipline that need to be exercised writers and visual artists are both amusing and, indeed, may earn him a few scowls the next time he turns up at the opening of some lauded cotemporary visual artist.
But, the reasons that this article warrants an ‘editorial of the month’ are self-evident: get hold of it and read it.