Nick Gentry

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Nick Gentry’s social art has made its way to Tottenham. Ever wondered where floppy disks disappeared to? No need to keep yourself up at night with that question, they were all donated to Nick’s studio, that’s where! He gives each piece, which would have otherwise been thrown away, a new life. Here he tells me about that process and what he loves about it.

The process is more cyclical than linear, but I suppose a starting point could be where people send me old materials and I then build them into a canvas. Only once I have made these canvases can I start painting. The works then go into a show, where people might be inspired to send me their materials and so the process goes on. It’s taken me a while to cultivate this way of working, which wouldn’t be possible really without utilising new tools like social media. The concepts take a long while to work out and the actual process of painting is one of the shortest parts. I tend to spend an abnormal amount of time sorting through boxes of materials.

I find it inspiring that people from all over the world want to be involved by sending me their old possessions. It feels like a new way to make art and in a way, this collection is much richer than simply displaying my own story. I don’t have a standalone favourite piece that I have created. There are some elements that I like from various pieces over the years. I only look back occasionally and it’s in those moments when you can properly assess the work and see if it’s successful. I have been working with publicly sourced materials for about 5 years.

Computer disks are interesting to me as they could represent something much more than forgotten technology. They are simple and humble on the surface, but physically they also come together to form an ideal canvas. I also like the idea that the important part is inside and unseen. There is an element of mystery to that. Obsolete technology in general interests me and the use of computer disks forms just one element of what I do. I like to reuse these old objects as they have a certain charm. The history is embedded in them and somehow you can feel that personal touch in each object, for example, the handwritten labels of each disk. It’s also clear that we have to change the way we live with regard to consumption and hopefully, we can inspire that change in each other rather than through a guilt trip.

I am currently experimenting with film negatives. Technically, they are quite a challenge to work with, but they are so interesting to me. Each one is like a mini artwork in itself. If any readers want to get involved then they can send me their old film negatives and I will embed them into the work. The address is Nick Gentry, Unit 3, Gaunson House, Markfield Road, London N15 4QQ.

Tell me a little bit about the exhibition in Miami:
I have been working with Robert Fontaine Gallery for 4 years now and each year we have a solo show. Robert first contacted me when he saw my work online in 2010 and we have worked together since then.

How many pieces will be in the exhibition? Between 8-14 paintings with installation elements. I like each show to have an element of interactivity. The art shouldn’t just be stuck on the wall, but flowing through the whole place.

How long did it take you to prepare? It takes months to prepare for each exhibition. The concept work that underpins that takes years.

How long will the exhibition be on for? It will be on display for one month and will be followed by Art Basel in Miami.

When and where? The show opens on 8th November at Robert Fontaine Gallery, 2349 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami, Florida, 33127.

Nick Gentry can be found at the Mill Co. studios, Tottenham or at Markfield Park – where he likes to relax.

*This has me thinking about cassette tapes and VHS – let’s dig them out and have a good chat about why it was so good.

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