Sweet Toof and Rowdy Talk

Art & Culture

A brand new month long collaborative show from infamous UK street artists SWEET TOOF & ROWDY rolls into Bristol town from until 21st July this month for street artistry mayhem featuring exclusive works & films.

Two of the longest players in the UK graffiti scene, their work stretches beyond into contemporary galleries. Providing a sociological experiment of laughing in the face of death on many walls around the world.

Their art typifies the pagan spirit of celebrating life and death simultaneously. We caught up with them both to discuss history, style and spraycans.

Hey guys!

Where are you from, and where are you now? 

Sweet Toof: I’m from London, but I’m in Bristol.

Rowdy: I am from The West Country and I am in The West Country.

Your exhibition opened on the same weekend as the summer solstice, a widely celebrated date. Im presuming that this decision was deliberate and went some way in helping you choose the shows title, however was this the only reason for titling for the show in this way?

Sweet Toof: It seemed to be an opportunity not to be missed.

Rowdy: I was on the look out for a venue or situation that would co-inside with the Solstice and The Looking Glass came up trumps.

I see collaboration as one the most successful ways of producing work, specifically in the current creative climate, what were your thoughts on the collaborative experience, and how has it effected you both as artists?

ST: Collaboration work is always a good experience , it makes things quicker when working on the streets.

R: The process of collaboration is often a positive one and in my case often involves adventure, friendship, expansion of thoughts and generally pushing ideas forward. One interesting aspect of the current financial situation is you have to work even harder sometimes for little or no reward and you could even be producing some of your best work to date. However Graffiti has always been an Art form where you are up against the odds.

Do you plan to work together again in the future?

ST: I am sure we will.

R: I would imagine so.

Usually your work can be seen by passers-by in the streets across the UK, what was it like for you both working inside a conventional gallery space as opposed to the urban setting you have become accustomed too?

ST: Showing at the looking glass was a great venue to show in , It is a thirteenth century pub with wooden panel walls. And candlelight was a dramatic setting for the artworks.

R: Transition between interior and exterior is not so difficult for us our work has been viewed within the Gallery realm for sometime now. In an outdoor context its great to be that accessible and Im always mindful of this.

For a minority of street artists I have gained the opinion that they would not desire their work to be shows in a formal gallery setting, due to fundamental beliefs in the role of art work and who it should be seen by, how do you feel about this? And would you argue the experience has in fact benefited you both?

ST: I feel working on the street feeds the studio work which is always good to show in the gallery setting each show is a deferent experience and some times can be beneficial in many ways.

R: Beneficial yes, the particular show we have on at the moment is not the usual white wall format. Its an eclectic space not for the chromophobic, with many fine features original Oak panelling combined with a very long bar equipped with a fine array of drinks not to mention some great bespoke lamps. In fact, some of the art work is lit by candle.

Bristol is arguably one of the U.Ks hubs of creativity and street art, how does it feel to be working in the area? 

ST: It’s always good to work in Bristol it as a rich street art culture and a lot of good artists

R: Working in Bristol is great though I am feeling a little long in the tooth with it. Bristol has a fantastic history and a good attitude towards the arts. I think its easy to become complacent here.

Are there any cities in the U.K. or elsewhere, which you havent worked in yet, of which you already have any plans for?

ST: Watch this space…

R: Burning Candy has a big show planned in Leeds next summer. On a personal level Id like to make it to Lisbon for its proximity and current vibe. I think Hong Kong would be good for my cityscape series. More time in Latin America wouldnt hurt would it?

When you are out scouting for spots to work, do you usually come across a place first and then create the idea for the right environment or, do you design first and then go out hunting for spaces? 

ST: Sometimes it’s spontaneous but most of the time spots are eyed you for a while some get hit after thinking about it for 10 years others are hit asap.

R: Stumbling across a spot 1st, then a quick sketch is the preferred method. After which crazy fun painting ensues.

The style of both of your works visually fits so well together, however as artists, how do you two feel you differ?

ST: The style of work develops and changes over time it is always good to mix things up a bit.

R: There are differences such as Sweet Ts gallery paintings involve a lot of oil and glitter. Mine have a political under current and are set in the near future, where as sweet Toof paints like an old master.

As well as large scale works in the street do you both regularly make works on paper or exercise any of the more classical techniques when making your work?

ST: It’s always good to remember the history of image making and  work in different mediums.

R: Paper techniques for sure, Ive worked on a large number of ink works on parchment recently that have culminated in a 3-minute animation entitled Black Cab To Rehab. Just a couple of weeks back I released a 10-colour screen print.

For this show, was it an opportunity to make a whole new body of work for the both of you, or an exercise of resolution through the presentation of pieces that were already finished? 

ST: It was a chance to show a new series of ruffneck paintings and also some recent drawings

R: It was a spontaneous show that was offered one month in advance and has a combination of new & old work in it. What makes it fresh is the unusual feel and beauty of the interior, as well as certain site-specific murals. I want to continue making happenings and events on every solstice & equinox until summer solstice 2014.

If your art works were aural what do you think they would sound like? 

ST: Chattering teeth

R: Well as Ive become more involved in film there is a reality to the question. hhmmmm Tom waits then Tom waits on helium, Flavor Flav chatting to Spanish ladies, Spanish Ladies stroking cats, cats purring whilst all around birds sing and a gentle breeze shakes the leaves.

What are you both obsessed with at the moment?

ST: Painting

R: Women, Art & money.

Whats your answer to everything?

ST: Spraycan and a fat roller.

?R: ?

Interview by Lizy Bending

www.thelookingglassbristol.com / www.getrowdy.info & http://sweettoof.com/ for full details on everything else.