John Kirby video transcripts

John Kirby talks about his work

I think one of the themes that's important in my work is of isolation and loneliness. Repression and the inability to express emotions.
I supposed it's within my nature, these things.

When an artist is painting or sculpting, or whatever they're doing and they're being truthful to themselves, then they are reflecting their own anxieties, inadequacies and fears. And that's what probably I'm doing. It's largely unconscious I think. And I don't really want to know too much about my motivations.

I think that my first influence in art was seeing stuff in church. I come from a Catholic family and we spent a lot of our time in church as children. There were statues around, murals on the walls and it was over-aweing. I was very fascinated by religious art so that was my main influence really. It influenced me to be a figuartive artist rather than an abstract artist.


Extract of the film 'Son of Liverpool'

I'e never had a show in Liverpool and I always wanted a show in Liverpool. I don't know if I would have rediscovered it in my head if I hadn' had this show. It's been interesting from my point of view about my relationship with the city. It feels like the end really, like an obituary. It's poignant and a bit sad and melancholy because I'm thinking about my parents. Liverpool gets under your skin; it's not the sort of place you can be half measured about. It's the Marmite of cities really.

I think the characters are portraits. They might look like specific people and seem like specific people but they'e not really. They're more actors in a little play and the actor happens to be my Father acting or myself acting, but they're not specifically about our lives or if they are, it's not a direct narrative. It's more a symbolic narrative.

Interviewer: What where your expectations of yourself when you were 16?

I don't know. I didn't have any. I wondered what my life was about, who was I going to be with, where would I find my relationships. Good heavens, there was nothing then. The 60s were happening and I wasn't ever a part of them. You know, everyone was having a good time, we were all told.

So much of my work is about what Liverpool means in a very broad sense to me. My childhood and being a Catholic and my parents and everything - we were so much a part of Liverpool. I don't paint pictures of Liverpool.

Interviewer: But you're a 'son of Liverpool' are you?

Yes. My oldest brother Dave said to me not so long ago, I said you know "I'm a Scouser", this kind of throw-away line, he said "No you're not, you haven't been for years'. And I felt very hurt by that because I think I am. I don't follow Liverpool Football Club or you know get dewy-eyed at the thought of the Liver Birds, you know, but it's something that you are forever really.