By paul, Dec 2 2012 12:25PM
‘I’m self-taught’, says the artist called Tagzee who I met in the courtyard of the British Library on a cold November morning.
'Ten years ago I got a canvas and acrylics off a friend and just thought “I’ll have a go”… and when I started making a painting I loved it to bits. The next day I went out and I bought more and more. I was drinking at that time’ he says, adding that he has now stopped. ‘I couldn’t [drink any more]. When I was drunk I couldn’t get that feeling so I stopped drinking and it just went from there!’
We had only been talking a few minutes when I suggested we break the rules and leave out Tagzee’s photo from his page in the calendar. The idea is for the public to get to know the artists affected by homelessness, read their story and read about their artwork as they describe it. But how can you do that when the artist works under a nom-de-plume and doesn’t want to be photographed? ‘Tagzee’, he says, ‘is my art name. It’s like what Banksy does. I’m a bit mysterious.’ He suggests that he can put on a balaclava for the calendar photo but I decline, thinking that it might remind people of a time in London when a photo like that would have meant that he represented the IRA.
Tagzee’s whole approach to his art is about breaking rules. He says he wanted to do something different after seeing what other people did on the internet. This painting, which features alongside 11 other artworks from artists affected by homelessness in the One Calendar, was created with a plasterer’s trowel being swiped across with the colours on it. He says the painting itself took something like “point-something of a second to make”. Tagzee says that he bought the canvas and materials for this and 19 other paintings he created at the same time after he won £500 on the lottery.
Like many of his art pieces, including a style of painting he calls Puddle Art, he has videoed the process of this painting, posting it on YouTube. After the art is completed, the story doesn’t end there. Most of the 20 paintings in this series were dropped around London ‘for people to find,’ including Camden Market and the Tate Gallery toilets. A message on the back encourages the finder to go online and see the making of the painting and he enjoys reading comments from the public under the YouTube videos. ‘One of the comments is really good. It said that “My dad found this at the Tate gallery and it looks lovely – it’s got a nice home now and it’s on my wall.”’
Tagzee is 56 and 'came down from Scotland 30 odd years ago' but has always sofa surfed with friends or family. ‘I used to drink a lot but when I go into art I stopped cause I couldn’t drink and do art. I gave up the can for canvas.’ He initially went to the Crisis art class a year ago to meet other artists. Now Crisis are helping him find a permanent place to live. He says that painting has been good to him in other ways too - since discovering it 10 years ago he has given up drinking, saying he ‘gave up the can for canvas.’
Canvas and acrylics are not his only medium. ‘I’ve got my stuff I do on cardboard that looks like metal, and I’ve got the Puddle Art which nobody else has done, explaining how he discovered the process by accident: “I do Puddle Art at famous places where I get a blank canvas, I pour some graphite and water on the round, rub the canvas in it and turn it, take a picture and then from that stain I turn it into a picture. It’s called ‘puddle art of famous places’. I accidentally dropped a piece in a puddle, took it home, put it on the radiator, and when it dried all these animals appeared! And then I was thinking about street art and I thought ‘wow, I could do this!’ So I made a video, put it on YouTube and people loved it!’ His first puddle artwork, the one he discovered by accident was outside 10 Downing Street and the second was outside the Tate Gallery .
Tagzee, who sells his paintings on E-Bay, says now his prefered medium cardboard and metal. “I sell my stuff to help charities. For Crisis and stuff like that. I give 50 percent to charity”
paul [at] cafeart.org.uk
this is brilliant, can i repost it elswhere?