Episode 9 – Myles-Jay Linton – Jewels of St Pauls
May 2022, 22 mins
Dr Myles-Jay Linton, figurative artist, psychologist and academic, has created a new neon artwork for the Moxy Bristol hotel lobby’s library area.
This podcast explores his development of the commission through conversations with friends and colleagues about the artwork. It talks through the process of what began as a digital line drawing, which then became a physical neon artwork through partnership with sign makers Cabot Neon.
The piece, and the conversations around it, reflect on practices of repetition, persistence and perseverance.
Transcript: Please see at the end of the page.
Myles-Jay Linton is a Bristol-based multi-media artist, psychologist and community organiser. Influenced by his research into experiences of well-being and mental health, Myles uses figurative illustrators to visualise the connections between our thoughts and emotions with our bodies.
Myles-Jay Linton 00:01
Hello and welcome. So what does it all mean? How did you do it? And why? I’m Myles-Jay Linton and these are the sorts of questions I get from the people in my life as an artist, a psychologist, and an academic. For me, these discussions are absolute gold dust, but they’re very rarely recorded. So in this podcast, I really wanted to capture my conversations with friends across Bristol, whilst completing my commissioned artwork for the Moxy public art programme. One of the main themes of the artwork is repetition. So our habits, the thoughts that circle our minds, and the things we return to time and time again. We recorded the podcast in my flat, at St. Anne’s House and on site at the Moxy beginning around the time the artwork was just a sketch and ending with the artwork in its glass, neon and metal completion. So I hope you get to see the artwork itself. And I hope this episode gives the work a bit of extra context. Enjoy. Jassi Sandhar has a PhD from Bristol law school. She’s an activist, and the first friend I made here in Bristol. So kicking things off with her made the most sense to me. We chatted in August 2021 at the Moxy Hotel. Around the time I designed the work, but nothing had been constructed.
Jassi Sandhar 01:30
So my PhD was looking at the involvement of girl child soldiers in conflict, but looking at their position as sort of active agents rather than vulnerable victims, which is how they’re depicted in a lot of international law. When you asked me to be part of this podcast, you said, you know, the theme is going to be repetition. I was like, me and repetition. I associate repetition with routine. And I don’t know why, I’ve got kind of like a negative association with it. You know, repetition, to me is something where if something is being repeatedly done over and over again, it doesn’t signify something positive to me. And I don’t know why. And I think that that is, and we’ve had this discussion before, it’s because I’m quite whimsical. And I’m into short term gratification. So I very much am about, you know, I’ve done something one day and repeat it. But actually repetition. When I was thinking about this morning, I was actually really important in terms of solidifying the concepts and ideas, but also, it helps you grow. What is the thinking about repetition for you?
Myles-Jay Linton 02:36
For me? Um, I think that certainly when I was putting the pieces together, I was reflecting on how challenging of a year it’s been, and how life I’m going to get really philosophical now, I was kind of reflecting on how life often requires you to pick yourself up and try again, and again, and again. The things that have been most rewarding for me have been those things that I haven’t got a straightaway, the things where I mean, liek even art, I wouldn’t call myself an actual artist. And it’s something I’ve really had to work out, you know, over years and years and years. And there’s been a lot of satisfaction in that, compared to maybe some things I’ve got a little bit quicker. So for me, it’s it’s yeah, it’s a personal reminder that life is a process. And stuff just takes time. I don’t know that perseverance is a really core part of repetition for me. And, you know, I try and visualise some of that strength in the neon piece because there is definitely that need sometimes to dust yourself off and try again. Yeah, I say covered in dust on a building site. In a beautiful hotel. Yeah. Why do you think I asked you to be on this podcast?
Jassi Sandhar 04:00
That’s a really good question. I think maybe because I guess our chemistry. Yeah, I think that we, our conversations flow very easily. And it’s it’s very comfortable. It’s very safe. It’s very easy. And I think that we both are really good at being open to each other. And ideas. And also, I think you just really like me.
Myles-Jay Linton 04:25
Yeah, basically that. Yeah, no, absolutely.
Jassi Sandhar 04:29
So I have a question. Would you call yourself an artist?
Myles-Jay Linton 04:33
This is why I invited you onto the podcast because I knew you would take the power back. Would I call myself an artist?
Jassi Sandhar 04:39
I mean, you only got a really nice art piece in a really nice hotel in Bristol.
Myles-Jay Linton 04:44
So difficult. I mean, the really honest answer is I, I will but there is still some friction with it. I still think to be an artist. There are still things I need to do. But I also appreciate that actually, that is a voice I have to kind of engage with again and again and actually critique of it. So what am I going to do in the meantime, I can’t not make stuff because I don’t feel like an artist, I have to just continue to create because that’s what feels good. And maybe one day, I’ll accept that as part of my story.
Jassi Sandhar 05:12
You got to repeat the process!
Myles-Jay Linton 05:14
I see what you did there!
Jassi Sandhar 05:17
I call you an artist. And to me, you are one. And I think most people who see this art piece will say, yeah, that’s made by an artist, was designed by an artist.
Myles-Jay Linton 05:26
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Thank you. That’s really nice to hear.
Jassi Sandhar 05:33
That saying that, you know, I’m probably going to get this wrong, but that a sick man only wishes for one thing, you know, their health again, and to be better? I think that that kind of relates to kind of the piece that you’ve done, and the piece that you’ve drawn? And actually a lot of your work, does kind of have that sort of element to it, doesn’t it?
Myles-Jay Linton 05:55
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Like I, you know, I identify, quote, unquote, as like quite a figurative artist. So bodies are really important to me. I think bodies are great. I think they’re fun. I think they, they tell much more of a complex story than they’re often given credit for. I mean, I and again, I can’t remember whose quote this is, but ‘the Body Keeps the Score’.
Jassi Sandhar 06:17
Wow. Okay. Yeah, there’s a book called that.
Myles-Jay Linton 06:20
There is a book called that, yeah. But just that idea of your life is happening. Your Body Keeps the Score, it’s where you hold tension. It’s what it’s where you hold your emotions, it’s certainly a site where whether things are good or bad, you know, there are so many indicators that show up in and around your body and how you move through spaces. So I have always been really passionate about giving the body more credit, giving more space giving more airtime. I am always interested in drawing different types of bodies, different, particularly different poses. And I try not to think too much about or I try not to overthink the process. Because it turns into something else to be honest.
Jassi Sandhar 07:02
I also think it’s really interesting that you know, you’re using colour, and it’s not so black and white.
Myles-Jay Linton 07:06
I mean, the colours are really sweet. Yeah, in this piece. Yeah. And neon working with light is such a pleasure, because I feel kind of having seen a mock up of how it’s going to look in practice. It floods the room in a way that only light can, and in a way that only some of these colours can. So I almost want it to look and feel like grabbing a handful of sweets and shoving them down your mouth. Sweet, juicy, but also quite warm, deliberately, very warm colours. So yeah, I want looking at this to feel nice and sweet and warm.
Jassi Sandhar 07:44
Well, I mean, it’s really also interesting to hear more about why you’ve chosen the colours that you’ve chosen, why you decided to design it the way that you have designed it. And you spoke a bit about the positives of repetition, and how, you know, repetition can be a good thing. I’m just wondering more about the negatives or what you think that you know, whether it can be like a barrier, or maybe hinder.
Myles-Jay Linton 08:01
Yeah, yeah, I mean, so, so much of my work does, at least on some level, draw on my work as a psychologist. And I think some of those more challenging habits are the kind of the kind of negative loops people can find themselves in. Yeah, so you know, some of the behaviours that aren’t so restorative, or some of those things that we put ourselves through that aren’t as beneficial to us as whole people, right? And that’s part of life.
Jassi Sandhar 08:37
I actually want to ask you about your art piece, and what inspired it, especially the theme of repetition.
Kind of just, it’s like, I’ve got to get something out. And I know a lot of artists will kind of relate to that, in that sometimes it isn’t a deliberate process. So I didn’t go into it… I remember drawing it on a not great day, on a day where I felt like as I often do, I start drawing when I’m like, either there’s a feeling I can’t quite verbalise or I just need some time to zone out. And I probably have a little bit more fun with reflecting on it. When I step back and thinking, okay, I can see repetition in that I can see, like, the different tone and the postures, I can see… I think there’s a real key element in there about strength, like some of the poses are really quite… I mean, I know I’m really biased, but deliberately quite striking. And I’m most interested in people seeing the work and then giving me their interpretations. So I wonder with you, having not seen it, and now seen it, what else comes to the surface for you?
Jassi Sandhar 09:44
So I mean, it’s interesting that, you know, it’s it’s about repetition, and that’s the theme because when I say I mean, repetition isn’t what strikes me. What strikes me is I mean that they’re very, like you said they’re very strong bodies that are being depicted. So I was like, is this the same body? Or is it you know, multiple bodies? Or is it kind of like an evolution of bodies? And I also think there’s the the element of we’re probably not doing that so much is the personality part of it, like different personalities within, you know, the same body which are being shown in three different ways? So yeah, I think it’s when you say, oh, it’s, you know, it’s about repetition, then it’s like, okay, I can see it. But there’s also so much more to it than just the repetition angle that you you’ve kind of shown, there’s so much power that’s being shown. And I think it is also because of the way that the the bodies have been drawn.
Myles-Jay Linton 10:35
I mean, our bodies are incredible. Maybe that’s something that kind of comes out of it. The amount of stuff most of our bodies do without us even thinking, you know, the strength they have the things that until something does go wrong, just tick along, working perfectly. Yeah, that’s it. I hadn’t even thought of that. But yeah, you know, the body really is a pretty damn – if I can swear on my own podcast – pretty damn incredible thing. Verity McIntosh is an expert in virtual and extended realities. And she’s someone who’s been working across Bristol and across disciplines for some time now. So I thought she’d be the perfect person to discuss my own foray into new creative territory. We chatted in September 2021, when the glass for the neon artwork had arrived from Italy, and construction of the final piece with Cabot Neon was on the way. Why do you think you’ve ended up in this world of VR, in extended reality?
Verity McIntosh 11:39
Like most people, probably by accident. So I sort of started off wanting to be a theatre person. And I went to university and trained in theatre and TV stuff, and then got a bit disillusioned with how insular the theatre communit is and the people in the audience are the same people as the ones on that stage. And it’s kind of a, it felt like it was a sector that was slightly disappearing, it’s own something. And I was I was finding it quite limited in terms of what was getting made and what was getting seen. So the stuff that I was starting to find super interesting, then was the stuff that was starting to integrate new technology in different ways, thinking about theatre that doesn’t have to live in a theatre that can be kind of site responsive, or set in kind of more like participatory settings where the audience and the performance was much more blurred than I was sort of expecting from when I was trained in sort of pretty much theatre where you sit and watch. And I think that took me into techy stuff. For the majority of my career since, I kind of moved away from theatre, and started working with a lot of artists and technologists and researchers through mostly through a place called the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, which is amazing, which is a kind of welcoming, combining space for people from different disciplines to come and think about Creative Technologies and creative uses of technology. So I worked there for yonks, and kind of came back to my theatre body-ness in that I was working a lot, particularly with theatre makers and documentary makers and filmmakers who wanted to use VR, usually virtual reality, to kind of move their practice into a new space. At the time, mid 2000s, and 10s. Nobody really seemed to know how to do it. So to try and help the artists that I was working with, I kind of self taught and worked with a number of amazing people over the years that kind of helped me to learn and understand a bit more about it. So I sort of inadvertently specialised to support other people as a producer. And in doing so kind of discovered a passion for it myself and got really into some of the politics and the problems of virtual reality as an emerging medium. So then when sort of a few more years rolled by, and I found that there was more appetite, to experience this kind of work and make this kind of work, than opportunity to actually kind of do so, I moved into academia as a way to like help to allow new people coming through to get good training to be critical, to think about what they’re doing, and to really develop their voices. So I’m kind of in academia now to support the next generation of makers to really kind of confirm and explore this technology.
Myles-Jay Linton 14:15
Listening to you talk I was, I was reflecting on how tech for your work in theatre land was a little bit like neon in my own illustrations. It was, for me a way to kind of move forward and address some of the limits of the way that I’ve been creating in the past. And neon is so new to me, and I’m still learning so much about it. And I know VR and neon are clearly very different. But, you know, one of the key themes of the work that I’ve been creating is repetition. You know, that’s one of the key ideas that runs through the kind of my vision for the work. And I was wondering whether that idea of repetition, ever shows up in the work you do in and around VR?
Verity McIntosh 14:57
Definitely, in lots of ways. I’d love to know a bit more from you though about how repetition is manifesting in the work that you’re doing right now?
Myles-Jay Linton 15:03
Yeah. So it’s, I suppose, whenever I’m creating something, or actually when it when I created this, really, it was just kind of a niggling reflection on how so many things require us to do something again, and again, and again, you know, the idea of persistence and perseverance and the idea that it’s not about necessarily doing the same thing. Exactly, identically again, and again. But so much of our life is surprisingly cyclical. And so much of our life is something on repeat, I think even with last kind of 18/19 months. For a lot of people, there’s been a lot of sameness. And that was just an idea that I kind of wanted to bring into life in some kind of visual sense. And the illustration I think I showed you before has these three figures in different configurations to kind of portray that.
Verity McIntosh 15:56
I love the fact that there’s repetition of the figure, but by rotating and moving, the least, the initial impression is that it’s completely different. And the kind of dynamism of them in different poses, gives you something different, and I, I love finding those moments where repetition doesn’t mean mundane, you know, repetition can, you can learn something new from each cycle, and you can kind of turn your own lens around on something that is ostensibly the same and find something new. And I really love that about the piece that you showed. How do you feel about the kind of Instagramability of work – there’s a lot of focus on how things kind of create that Instagram moment.
Myles-Jay Linton 16:36
It’s interesting. So much of my earlier work relied on people being distracted by their phones and their laptops, because I almost exclusively worked digitally. So you know, my stuff was on social media, or on websites. But now I think this will be the first major piece of mine that doesn’t require you to be anywhere near a screen to kind of experience it. So for me, yeah, it’s great. It’s cool to experiment with that. I mean, I probably would not be talking to you on this podcast if it wasn’t for social media generally. Because when I first started re-energising my own creativity, and went back to illustration, it was only really through finding other artists online with similar styles or similar objectives, that I was able to share ideas and get feedback. And if I was working totally, in the middle of a global pandemic, trying to develop my creative practice without the input of other artists from across the world, which was also facilitated by social media, I just don’t know that I would have developed like, either at the speed or in the same direction. So for me in that sense, I, I’ve always been quite positive and optimistic about it. That said, I am really more conscious of drawing the line between the work I do and Instagram and social media more broadly. And it not being for social media, per se, but it just being another kind of tool. Because I do think a lot of artists can get lost in the responses that their work gets and drawn away from the actual work itself and what it’s doing maybe to you know, maybe with and for fewer people but likes are a complex thing. I don’t know if I like likes. How soon after waking up, do you check your phone?
Verity McIntosh 18:23
Oh, no, dude. Ah, honestly, I mean, it’s seconds. Like it’s pretty… So the gateway drug there is knowing what time it is. I want to know what time it is mostly to see if like it’s appropriate that I’ve woken up. Do I expect my little one to be up any second now is the cat going to start baying for blood. But the fact of touching a phone and seeing what time it is normally is then followed really quickly by a check to see if, like anything, is immediately demanding my attention. And that can be as trivial as like, as quick as os anyone, like, panicking online or, like, has anyone email me with a big crisis? I’m normally like, looking for reassurance that there’s no crisis for me to deal with. And that’s a pretty like, angsty way to wake up, but I’m looking for reassurance so that I can then not have anxiety. I’m sure it’s in no way healthy to be that quick to the phone. But yeah, it’s like, Thing Number one, if not Two that I do.
Myles-Jay Linton 19:22
I’m there with you, too. Yeah. I’ll go on record saying uncomfortably soon after waking up. Yeah, I think I mean, once the, the eyes are barely open, and I’ve already checked three apps.
Verity McIntosh 19:35
What are you looking for? What do you want? What do you want to know when you’re checking?
Myles-Jay Linton 19:38
That’s good question. I’ve never thought about it. I, it sounds terrible. I guess I want to know if I’ve missed anything. Yeah. Even though I would, I would describe myself as someone who doesn’t really have a fear of missing out. But I guess I am checking…
Verity McIntosh 19:53
Behaviour to the contrary!
Myles-Jay Linton 19:55
Yeah, yeah. I’m like, oh, what’s happened, I’ve been asleep for seven hours, 20 minutes, maybe something huge, that I need to be on, you know, that needs to be on my radar. You know, I need to make sure I get information really early. But I have a clock, I have no reason to check my phone for the time.
Verity McIntosh 20:13
I mean, we’re creatures of routine anyway, like everyone… that the word morning routine is that there are two words that just live together. And they always they always have done. We are sort of supported by the predictable and we’re only half awake. And so whatever your routine is, if it’s go out and feed the sheep, or if it’s hit the snooze button three times and then wake up, like, the ability to repeat ad infinitum gives us some security in our lives that we then you know, that we’ve started in the way that is familiar to us. And I think sometimes what can be a bit challenging is when that routine gets zipped away for whatever reason, and we have to start without our rituals and without our routines and without our repetition and I’m all for a little bit of ingrained, possibly not terribly helpful behaviour if it means that it settles the puff.
Myles-Jay Linton 20:57
Absolutely, uh, you know, I think, at least like on a personal level, I know, an indicator that I’m not in the best place is when my routines have gone amiss. When my life is so cluttered that I can’t do the things that usually keep me in a good space. So yeah, absolutely those routines, I think the idea of repetition sometimes gets a bad rap, because the idea of that being related to monotony, but actually, a lot of those routines and cycles are there because we benefit from them. And you know, on some level, we appreciate that, yeah, that thing in the morning, lighting a candle or having a coffee, or checking in with a good friend, that stuff matters, and it is important to enriching our lives. I was really keen to work with Cabot Neon because they’re a Bristol based company, and because I could kind of go to the workshop, and I knew that they understood the city, and they’ve been doing what they do for so long, I just wondered how you kind of go about choosing who you work with.
Verity McIntosh 21:57
So I think part of having been knocking about Bristol for 20 years or so is it’s such a creative and open and experimental community, I’ve just kind of gathered family to me over the years that I can’t seem to shed. So it’s more, it’s more having the time to work with as many wonderful people as as I can. We had a phrase in the Pervasive Media Studio where I worked, where you are generous and interruptible. And that’s kind of the mantra that I hold to. I’m always available for a chat. So I try and operate as a kind of a, like a node in a network. And often I’ll be like, introducing people to someone else who can help them or trying to find ways for them to get their ideas off the ground. Sometimes it involves me, sometimes it doesn’t. But I find that just by trying to be a bit of a kind of continuous font of ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea, how do we do that?’, then that means it’s never really been challenging. It’s more, how do I edit that? When is the piece having its grand unveiling?
Myles-Jay Linton 22:59
The honest answer is I’m not sure. It’s so it’s dependent on a bunch of factors at the moment. But I think, like at this point, all of the individual pieces have been built. We have our big aluminium backing, that we’re going to attach all of the glass to spray the same colour as the wall in the hotel. But we’re not going to construct the whole thing until we know exactly when it’s gonna go up just because it will be more of a pain to store while it’s in its big form. But yeah.
Verity McIntosh 23:24
Myles-Jay Linton 23:33
So it’s installation day. It’s cold, we’re on site. And we are yeah, here for the big switch on. And hopefully it all goes to plan. There is a lot of dust is the ready to switch on artwork. We found the perfect spot on the wall. We attached all of the 15 pieces of glass to the aluminium box and wired it each for the three figures. It’s delicately resting, so I’m not taking my eye off it, because if it breaks, then it breaks. And yes, really excited about seeing what it looks like when it’s on. So much of this I don’t even know what we do. So I’m having to learn and that’s, I think that’s out of my comfort zone. And then it’s this, yes, I can’t even see what they’re doing right now. But that’s really good in and of itself. Linda Devo is a teacher, a maker and a DJ, but most importantly to me, she’s one of the founders of Kiki Bristol, a community group that champions the voices of queer, trans and intersex people of colour across the city of Bristol and beyond. My chat with Linda took place back at the Moxy hotel in November 2021 at a crucial point in the hotel’s construction and you’ll hear that it was very much an active building site. What would you like to talk about Linda?
Linda Devo 25:05
What would I like to talk about? Oh my gosh, it’s your podcast?
Myles-Jay Linton 25:08
No, but you’re a guest!
Linda Devo 25:10
What would like to talk about? I was gonna say make Bristol shit again. It’s a sticker that I saw that I was really amused by because I moved in nine years ago to get away from London and its racket and incessant action, which just paralysed me and made me just go to work and come home and shut my door and not want to engage too much. I start to feel about it here again as well. So I’m leaving.
Myles-Jay Linton 25:38
That’s going to be news too!
Linda Devo 25:42
But that’s a good way of putting it out there. Yeah, to phone everybody takes too long.
Myles-Jay Linton 25:47
Just send them the link to this podcast.
Linda Devo 25:50
Yeah. So I’m moving to Blackpool which I’m really excited about anyone goes why Blackpool but why not? And it’s up North and it’s a town with wide roads, I’ll never ever have to listen to people fighting, because no one knows how to reverse up my road because that’s what happens on my road every day, where I live.
What are you going to miss about Bristol?
Linda Devo 26:12
My mates mostly actually, I’ve made a really nice community of friends here. I’ve got here and only knew my girlfriend. I now have many friends. I’ll miss the kids I work with, Bristol kids are hilarious. Yeah, Kiki, like just my people that have the connections and family that I’ve made. And the size of the city is really nice, actually, for a city it’s great, you can get everywhere in 20 minutes. So that’s really great. Even when there’s traffic, yeah, you panic, but the traffic keeps moving. So it’s all right.
Myles-Jay Linton 26:37
I was kind of reflecting on how my work is so aligned to this idea that our bodies and our feelings and thoughts are so connected and more connected than I think we give them credit for. And I wondered for you like what that connection between your body and your feelings and thoughts are?
Linda Devo 26:53
Well, I’m 51. So they are by now thankfully, very connected, like I feel more integrated than I ever have been, like, in my life. I’m very aware of like, how I feel, how that connects to what I’m doing how I’m eating, you know, so I’m feel much more whole than I used to be. When I used to think I was a tank when I was younger. And I clearly wasn’t, because I broke myself. There was a certain point in my life where I was very connected to everything. And then you know, life happens. So as a teenager, I spent a lot of time disconnecting from myself, like I think most teenagers do with whatever substances they can get their hands on, you know, sort of self-medicating, and stuff and, and then through my 20s becoming really aware that there was a massive disconnect between my head and my heart, and like I couldn’t, you know, have suppressed feelings and things that I couldn’t process, I’ll just shut them down. By getting drunk or whatever it is, you know, young people do going out partying and ignoring one’s feelings, and then becoming this all-feeling creature who’s just too much emotion, you know, and so now at this point in my life, that they have their place emotions, but they don’t rule me, which is really great. I also recognise that my health very much depends on what I’m putting in my body or what I do with my body. So yeah, so I just feel a lot more integrated now. And a lot more aware of what’s going on. So things don’t build up to a point where they become a crisis. You know, like, if I’ve got a feeling I’m very quick at responding to it, you know, questioning myself to find out whether it’s like, what it’s based on, you know, so yeah, just a lot more whole.
Myles-Jay Linton 28:26
For me, at least one of the one of the things at the core of it is this idea of the things that we repeat, the cycles that we go through, the recurrences that colour, the lives that we live, and I was kind of wondering for you, looking back at your life, what are what would you say some of the recurring themes are?
Linda Devo 28:44
Good grief. That’s a massive question. Yeah, I’ve been teaching for the last 18 years, I’ve been teaching the subject that I do, which is art and design, and making – construction. I think that’s been a constant throughout my life since I was little. In the process of having to write about my work, I’ve realised how much I’ve just always done what I do, whether it’s formally or not. Now I’m wanting to formalise the process more, and I’m now actually willing to call myself an artist because raiders have made me cringe. Now I’m like, Okay, I am. And that is what it is.
Myles-Jay Linton 29:17
And how do you fit it all in?
Linda Devo 29:19
I really don’t know! Myles, I do not know. Before COVID I had so many things going on. And I don’t know how I managed to do it. I really have no idea. Because COVID happened. I got ill, and then my mum was ill. And then you know, and it’s just been like that. And so this sort of space was created. And now I’m really loathe to say yes to anything. Because I’m like, oh, no, I’m too tired. Oh, no, I haven’t got time for that. But before I just said yes to everything. I’m just, I don’t think I ever stopped to like actually acknowledge anything that I was, I was just doing stuff. And it was just in the past in the past just banked in the past, not really processing the last two years before 2018/2019 insane. I don’t know how I did it.
Myles-Jay Linton 29:58
So now are you better at resting? Like, what’s the change?
Linda Devo 30:02
Now, just I’ll tell you what’s a constant in my life is solitude. Like, I grew up very much, I was an only child, I was adopted by my parents and I grew up in like, sort of suburban area, but loads of space around me. So I’ll just be with my dogs all the time or in books, just to be able to be alone and have quiet is really important to me. So yeah, so I’ll make a lot more space for that now, because COVID gave us all that pause. You know, I think I might be one of the few people who loved the silence loved it loved not well, not sure there were loads of people like me who just liked not having to hurtle around. And not things being shut, so you’ve got no choice. You can’t go out because it’s nothing to go to – great. Yes, you could sit indoors and think, you know…
Myles-Jay Linton 30:44
Yeah. and reflect and process and just slow down. Yeah, I, for me, it was definitely a bit of a reset. So much of pre COVID life was asking for attention and was, you know, kind of really yearning out for, like my presence. And rejecting that a little bit, because actually, I didn’t want to go back to how busy I was, you know, I want to hold on to some of it. But I don’t want all of it back. said why do you think we are so obsessed with outcomes? And I think it’s important that we’re doing this interview at the end of the process, because, you know, I’m, you know, my head is in outcome mode at the moment, because we’re so, so close to the finish line. So yeah, why do you think we have become so fixated on the outcome?
Linda Devo 31:32
Capitalism. There’s always got to be some product isn’t it, it’s always got to be something you want something that will, you know… even teaching like school kids GCSE product design, they’re expected to make a product that you could put on a shelf and buy. Yet when I went to university to do my Masters, I was encouraged to play, there was not about outcomes. So I think we get things really jumbled up and forget that actually, the process of getting there is vital. And the outcomes, almost secondary, it’s like, if you know how to do the thing, you can make many outcomes. So that shouldn’t be the goal. Learning the thing is what should be the outcome.
Myles-Jay Linton 32:06
you have to trust the outcome is going to come, right?
Linda Devo 32:09
Because if you stick at it, of course, then you’ll get good enough to have an outcome that’s worth looking at. But if we get focused on the outcome, you will give up before you’ve even started, because you’re like ‘ahh.. never gonna be able to do’ you know, so I don’t know whether it’s some sort of negative mindset thing. Was it a negative bias that we will have in our brains are not going to be good enough? That stops us from trying? Because we’ve got a sense of perfection. Or when we’re doing the thing, we’re just focused on that so much we don’t enjoy getting to that point.
Myles-Jay Linton 32:36
Absolutely. We skip steps, we hurry through, we’re focused on the end goal.
Linda Devo 32:40
We judge ourselves really harshly when it’s not how we imagined. I think it’s capitalism’s fault. I blame everything on capitalism.
Myles-Jay Linton 32:47
So when you judge yourself more positively, or you’re kinder to yourself, when you make – I’m partly asking for myself – but what are the kinds of things that your internal Linda says to you to help focus more on the process?
Linda Devo 33:01
Play. Literally, that is it just play. Play. Because it just brings me joy, if I can just lift off all the outcome, or the expectation thing and just enjoy process, everything’s good. Even the craps good? Because it’s like, oh, look, you know, because then you’ve got you can see travel, can’t you? So yeah, everything has its value, then everything has benefit, all of it.
Myles-Jay Linton 33:24
It’s funny. It’s now making me think we should have done this interview at the beginning. I would have had this in mind when I made this, but that’s fine. Hindsight is 2020.
Linda Devo 33:34
It’s alright, you’ll make again, right? It’s not your final piece ever!
A good final piece to end on, I think, but yeah.
Linda Devo 33:43
I’m sure you’ve got more in you.
Myles-Jay Linton 33:44
I do. The last time I visited the Moxy was for the final final official handover. I chatted with Jack and Riah from Bricks about the process and reflected on how the work feels in the space. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure I’m chuffed. I. I mean, yeah, I love it.
Jack Gibbon 34:09
We were just on the other side of the road, daytime, and we can see it through the curtains. Yes. Yeah, it’s amazing. Yeah, great colour choice.
Myles-Jay Linton 34:17
Thank you very much.
Jack Gibbon 34:18
How did you choose the colours? Or was that instinctual or?
Yeah. I mean, because the initial design was black and white. And working with Cabot, and to see what colours were available in the neon and seeing what colours they’ve used in the past that have worked really well. Just because sometimes the colours in abstract, it can be really hard to know how they’ll work together. But yeah, these – so we’ve got the red and the orange in stained glass and the pink isn’t. But even that gives it a really nice contrast as well.
Jack Gibbon 34:48
I love the glow on all of your faces, it looks so good.
Riah King-Wall 34:51
Yeah, it’s a very flattering light for all of us.
Myles-Jay Linton 34:54
Because it’s all it’s also partly about the atmosphere that it creates, right? It’s about the mood that having it in this space allows. The neon, it pulls you in as one of the kind of tricks of the light, it really does invite you for a closer inspection, I also hope it gives, you know, people time and space to reflect. I think I’m hoping that it’s yeah, it’s a calming experience interacting with it. And that also kind of plays into some of the selection of colours. I can’t wait to come back and be in this space at nighttime.
Riah King-Wall 35:23
I can’t wait to see people around it as well, seeing like bodies next to it. And next to those shapes. That will be really nice.
Myles-Jay Linton 35:30
Because I think so far the only people who’ve seen it, and have been able to comment on it, are the people who’ve been working on site. And they’ve been quite interesting conversations of people kind of like, try to, like, predict who the bodies belong to. Lots of discussion around gender as well, which I didn’t expect. So yeah, they’ve been really cool conversations to kind of eavesdrop on, but it’s just beautiful to see it go from idea through to into the world.
Jack Gibbon 35:59
Would you do neon again?
Myles-Jay Linton 36:00
Oh, yeah. Well, yeah, absolutely. I think it’s going to be hard to turn back. Now now that I know the process. I’m already mapping out what a bigger, like more adventurous piece might look like with different components and working with colour again, and the size of the tubes as well. There’s just so much room to explore and experiment. There’s more kind of boundaries to push in terms of what the design of neon could look like. So yeah, I’m, I’m ready to explore that. Do you not I really want to get involved in the creation of a space at a really early point to instead of think, you know, how can this space that’s already been designed, or even styled already kind of been envisioned look with a neon piece? It’s like, from the beginning, where you know, where would it go in the beginning? What kind of atmosphere would it create and building it in from the beginning, rather than the end? I think sometimes there’s a risk that you can just put art in a space. But I’d love to work early on in the process a little bit like this, actually. And bigger I think, I think there’s definitely scope to go there.
Jack Gibbon 36:58
Oh, good. Yeah. Bringing artists into the conversation as soon as possible gives them the widest range of opportunities to be explored and feel like creativity to manifest in so many different ways. And being a secondary part doesn’t quite give justice to the role that an artist can play. But you’ve done such an amazing job with the opportunity for this space that had already been prescribed. Really run with it. This is great.
Myles-Jay Linton 37:23
It’s been a dream collaboration. I think there were so many points where maybe it could have gone sideways. But I just think it’s been, everyone’s been a dream to work with. So happy to say that on record. Thanks for listening. Thanks to my pals for coming along to speak with me. And if you enjoy the podcast, come down to the Moxy. I won’t be there, but the artwork will be.
Rowan Bishop 37:56
Thanks for listening. We’re Bricks, a social enterprise with the mission to support creative communities in Bristol, helping them to thrive. We work with communities, developers and local artists to produce programmes that support both local voices and Bristol’s creative economy. In 2021, we delivered public art projects across a range of developments from hotels to new housing, neighbourhoods, schools, and listed community buildings. If you’d like to get in touch learn more about Bricks public art producing or find out more about the artwork discussed in this podcast, please visit bricksbristol.org and follow us for updates on the usual social channels. To be the first to hear when we release new podcast episodes, be sure to subscribe to our feed. And if you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave us a review. This episode explored one of the works produced for the public art programme at the new Moxy hotel in St. Paul’s Bristol. This podcast was produced by Rowan Bishop. The Moxy public art project was commissioned by Vastint with support from the Jehu group. Thanks to everyone on the Creative Commissioning Group for their input.
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