We Spoke to Artist Martin Rayment about Whipping Imagined Worlds Onto Canvas

Photos: Fabrice Gagos
Interview: Freddie Stringer
Wednesday 13 March 2024
reading time: min, words

Within intricately layered large-scale collages, Martin Rayment whips imagined worlds onto canvas. We sat down to chat with Martin about his creative process, merging music and art, and staying curious as an artist.

Martin 8

How did you get started making art, and was collage your first medium?

It was discovering a lot of my Dad’s books on surrealist artists that intrigued me and set me on this wild path of wondering what art is. At that point, I had no context of who Salvadore Dali and Rene Magritte were. It's quite a wild thing to try and interpret as an eight-year-old.

Around that time I was making decisions about what to be in life and I was captivated by this ability to create worlds and concepts that are in your mind and figure them out or display them in an art form. It kind of felt like a superpower. I read a book on Rene Magritte a lot as I was growing up and it covered his whole life up to being an old man and having a huge body of work. He had a big exhibition at the end of his life and it made me think how that would be great to do, that I would be happy with that.

You’ve mentioned the surrealists, who else would you say influences your work the most?

The tutors that I had while studying fine art at NTU taught us how to think outside the box. They made us do things like create sculptures out of things scattered around the room and at first, I thought this was ridiculous but it formalised the idea that anything can be art. It made me understand and appreciate why some minimal art exists. They were super challenging in terms of any ideas that we had, they would push us and make us explain why we were doing things.

You are co-founder of The Carousel, a Nottingham-based creative space in Hockley - can you tell us a little bit about the thought process behind it?

It’s about getting people to be inspired and sharing the wisdom that I've attained. I am getting on a bit now, I am no longer a Trent graduate, so sharing the things that I figured out over time is a real passion of mine, because no one needs to make the mistakes that I've made. You often feel a bit abandoned by university after you’ve finished, you’re out of the cosiness of uni life and you're out in the realness.

You've recently made a short film about your work, how did that come about?

So that came about by working with Tom Dennis who’s a filmmaker also based at The Carousel. He saw what I was doing and was interested in filming stories, so he began shooting me in 2021 and then we started collecting footage. I was looking for a way to visualise my process as well, to explain it all. I thought having a filmmaker as talented as Tom would be really important. He’s really good and going into the nooks and crannies of a person and what they're about.

In the film, you seem to be an avid gardener as well as an artist. How does art, as well as working on your allotment contribute to your mental health?

It’s really important to me. I'm a big lover of plants, it's the one thing that grounds me in life. Nurturing plants in the allotment is just really good for my mental health fundamentally. It creates a serene contrast to making this kind of work that can be intricate, detailed and a bit of a slog. Having that release of getting my hands dirty and being within nature is important.

I always come at it from the perspective of a child trying to figure out what life is. Arguably we never really grow up!

Mray Surfacegallery 142

Your website mentions Embryology and Eschatology, birth and death - what is the importance of these ideas in your work?

I think within the piece up there [points to his work Dead Atom Shore] is that feeling of being born and having a life. You have the big image of the woman who’s kind of the universe and she's just watching everything going on in this chaotic world. Then it ends with the figure on the bottom left who’s an old man. I think I'm still figuring it out and that's what keeps it exciting. It puts me on a journey, if I’d figured it all out then I probably wouldn't be doing it anymore.

How important is it that you keep innovating in your work, continuing to be curious about new methods and new media?

I suppose it's discovering all these avenues that I can take the work down and different ways that I can explain the ideas. It's almost overwhelming. You can have wild energy in some parts of a work but then almost graphic design elsewhere. I find it inspiring but also challenging. It’s sort of how I see music as well, the end product is there, you just have to work for it to get it. Sometimes that means getting through some bad ideas to get to the good ones.

Can you give us some insight into what you're working on now? Or otherwise what’s currently inspiring you?

My latest project, Earth is Doomed, is a project that is the soundtrack to what my artwork is, comical, immersive, and chaotic. It’s a collaboration between me and Harry Cooper, and we're basically on a journey reflecting on what’s happening in society. We also look at myths and legends of British folklore and kind of look at that all-encompassing idea of what it means to be British in this time when things are quite polarised.

From the film, it sounds like the music incorporates elements of drone?
Yeah and also very different instruments clashing with each other, lots of effects causing random outcomes, that ties in with the approach I take to making artwork because that's what makes the work truly unique, so you can't replicate it. The pure chance of it - that’s what keeps it exciting. Not trying to make it sound really grandiose, but it's inspiring and it makes me want to keep trying. I never want to stop making work like this so that by the end of my life there will be a big volume of work. I don't feel like I need success to enjoy what I'm doing. I'm lucky enough to kind of have built a life where I'm able to make artwork.

Do you see yourself continuing to make bigger artworks then?

Yeah, one hundred percent. I think it's important in terms of respecting the viewer as that size is a really important factor in people experiencing the artwork. Being able to be immersed within it means you can think about all the little things that are happening, you’re able to find those easter eggs, the moments that make the artwork. A lot of those ideas will be rooted in me trying to figure things out as a human but I think we are all on that same journey. I always come at it from the perspective of a child trying to figure out what life is. Arguably we never really grow up!

Catch Martin’s exhibition and performance Earth is Doomed on March 29 at The Carousel


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