Manc of the Month: sØlar

With other-worldly collages, crammed full of detail, the work by artist sØlar creates new stories and new dimensions. To know that all of his collages are done by hand, staying away from the digital world, adds that extra appreciation. Through his work you get a real sense of how many hours he has trawled through magazines and charity shops, collecting, and recreating these images into new pieces. And with a new exhibition this month in Chorlton, we knew that we had the right artist for our May ‘Manc of the Month’.

Read on to find out more about the artist, his new exhibition and why elephant dung can be arty!

Cotton On Mcr: Tell us about your current exhibition at Electrik in Chorlton?

sØlar: ‘Yeah, it was really nice to be asked back by Electrik to do another exhibition. I did my ‘Lazers In The Jungle’ exhibition there a few years ago which was great. They’ve always got interesting stuff going on at Electrik whether it’s art, music or food, so for me it’s perfect. For the ‘Medicine Is Magical’ exhibition I wanted to concentrate on more recent artwork.’

CO: We love ‘Carnival’ – can you tell us more about this? 

sØlar: ‘Thanks a lot. Funny that you should pick this one out. It’s one of the few collages I’ve done where I was given a brief to work towards which is something I don’t usually enjoy doing. It’s all about Jamaican soundsystem culture in the UK. I’ve been to Notting Hill Carnival so many times over the years so I just tried to capture that vibe.’

CO: A lot of collage artists are moving into digital collage, is this something you would consider or not?

sØlar: ‘I don’t think so. I see digital and analog as two totally separate things. With digital collage you can sit at a computer and recreate whatever image you have in mind. With analog, using scissors, scalpel and glue it means you have to trawl through charity shops, old book shops and unsuspecting waiting rooms, sourcing images from wherever you can (which oddly I enjoy) and then it’s all down to piecing them together and trying to work something out. That’s the true creative process of collaging to me. When I start something I’ve no idea what I’m actually going to do. Plus, I’m a technophobe haha.’ 

CO: If you can chat with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

sØlar: ‘Eric Morecambe. Absolute hero. I’ve got a proper love for old comedy but he was the kingpin. His TV shows were incredible but if you watch his interviews he was so quick-witted and he was like that off screen 24/7. Some comedians become a bit sour off stage don’t they? But he was non stop, even at home with his wife and kids. Exact same person as on screen. Proper funny bloke.’

CO: What do you think of Manchester’s arts scene?

sØlar: ‘Manchester’s always been a creative city for me but it seems to be progressing to the point where artists are starting to choose the city over elsewhere and art graduates are deciding to stay here instead of heading off to carve out a career in the capital. Artists seem to support each other a lot in this city as well.’

CO: What has been the best exhibition you have visited and why?

sØlar: ‘I went to Tate Britain in London around 1998 to see Chris Ofili’s exhibition either just before or just after he won the Turner Prize. Chris Ofili was actually born and raised in Manchester but you don’t often hear his name associated with the city. His style is a kind of wild fusion of Western and African culture, drawing on his Nigerian roots and he often used really unusual materials within his paintings. I remember standing next to Nick Cave in that exhibition looking at a huge painting covered in elephant dung. I saw John & Yoko’s ‘Double Fantasy’ exhibition last month. That was good. No elephant dung though.’

CO: What advise would you give to budding artists?

sØlar: ‘Don’t be scared to explore all the different ideas in your head.’

CO: What’s next after Electrik?

sØlar: ‘Over the last 12 months I’ve worked with a lot of music producers and labels creating record sleeves for people like Dj Craze, Mark De Clive-Lowe, Tru Thoughts, Flevans and Fixate so I want to keep pushing that really. I’m a big fan of music so it’s a dream gig for me. I’ve got a few more sleeves in the pipeline waiting to be released which I’m really excited to see.’ 

CO: If you could live in any painting/artwork, which would it be?

sØlar: ‘Ahh, I see you’ve saved the weird question till the end haha. Is it a cop out if I say ‘Carnival’? Notting Hill Carnival is such an unbelievable weekend. 2nd biggest street carnival in the world, music on every street corner, West Indian food, after-parties in pubs. I’ll take that. It’s got to beat living in a Caravaggio painting. If that is a cop out though, I could happily live in a Slim Aaron’s photograph, lounging by a pool. That’ll do me.’

Poolside Gossip by Slim Aarons

‘Medicine Is Magical’ is on at Electrik from 2nd May for 4 weeks. Find out where else you can find Art and Alcohol on our previous article and see more of sØlar’s work on his Instagram.

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