Interview with John Gosnell,co-founder of PAC. Highs & lows during his career & life during lockdown
Updated: Apr 23
🌿Could you tell us more about your background and how did you decide to become an artist?
It’s a bit of a long story, I originally started to draw at a young age and always was drawing fantasy anything, to escape myself and the world I lived, not that that was a bad place most of the time, I just never felt comfortable in it, something that would never change. You see, academically I wasn’t the most capable person because I suffer from dyslexia, I struggle to read and write. I ended up going to Camberwell college of art, I got an unconditional offer for the foundation course, ended up doing a B-tec in the Design there as my mum thought I may be too young to do the foundation and for the next 5 years I got myself the B-tec and an HND, after which I got on to the second year of a textile degree at UEL, unfortunately during my time in high education, I became a heroin addict and was thrown of the degree for lack of attendance. Now, this is where it all getting a bit deep, for the next good number of years, I delved deeper into addiction, losing my family, my friends, myself ending up homeless, in prison and to begging on the street. I turned into a person who didn’t want to live and only wanted to escape. I hurt everyone who knew me, lost my parents who I hurt and never had the chance to make it up to them. I could most probably write You a book on the whole escapade. Yet it cannot be denied, it’s part of my background. During this time, needless to say, I didn’t do any art, didn’t think about or try and do any, apart from two times. The first being in a hostel on Mare st. I did an art class and created a painting of a superman on a fractured land being slowly rotted away. When I think back on it, I’m the superman and I unknowingly was showing myself. The other time, was a month before I ended up in treatment, I painted a skull, half being my addiction and the other being me out of addiction. The work was never finished, and it was left in the drug service that I used before treatment. About a year after, coming back clean, I saw it in a meeting and liberated it, I still haven’t completed it. Just doesn’t seem right to do so. Nearly three years ago, I helped to start up the Promethean Art Collective with a group of amazing artists, people, who I call the family. Together we have created great works and helped each other grow, but that's a whole other story.
🌿How would you describe your current practice?
I would say I’m a chancer of sorts, someone who sees a thing and does his best to encapsulate it, no matter how hard that seems to be. I feel the most comfortable, being uncomfortable with what I do. This, in itself, is a bit like riding a horse, without a saddle slippery, at first hard to control, but the more you practice it,
the better you become. When I see what I want to do, it becomes like an itch you can’t scratch, and the only way you get to scratch it is by creating the piece itself. I find that workflows from within, whether that is based on experience emotion feeling or thought. The world around me impacts all of these in different ways.
🌿What is one of the biggest inspiration in your creative practise?
My biggest inspiration would be my mother, in her way she set me on the path I'm on now. She showed me what art truly is, taking me to exhibitions from a very young age. Seeing works from DaVinci to Monet,
Dali and many more. I learned to look at what was behind the picture not just what you saw, their inspiration their understanding of what it was they were doing. She would sit down and talk to me, for example, Monet had a garden where he sat every day painting his pond water lilies, repeating the same painting over and over finding some sort of peace of mind I'm guessing. For me to sit here and tell you that one artist inspired me more than other artists that will be a lie. I feel inspired by them all, plain and simple. I think that’s why I don’t sit in one bracket in what I create.
🌿What is your favourite artwork ever?
Hieronymus Bosch "The Garden of Earthly Delights". I would say this has been my favourite piece of work since I was 15, over the years my love for it has only grown and my respect for it has only deepened. It's like a fine wine only gets better with age.
🌿What is your routine during the current situation/lockdown?
That’s a funny question to ask! Depends on my state of mind, luckily I’m with my partner so have some company and she is working from home so I get up with her have a coffee give her a couple of compliments about how she’s looking have a bowl of Frosties and read, watch the news go on YouTube listening to talk about art, films or even just music. Needless to say, I’m an artist and at the moment I’m doing a painting, so in a way, I’m always working on that and once a day I’ll go to it and carry on with it for a bit. Ow and I seem to have become the cleaner and chef to as she’s working all week, I mean I don’t mind what else would I be doing. We are on lockdown after all. I connect with friends through calling and go out for a walk in the evening with my partner and we talk about her day and anything that comes to mind.
🌿How do you find inspiration?
At the moment I’m doing something that has been banked in my brain for over 20 years, I have a catalogue of ideas of work that I haven’t done. Don’t you? It’s a bit like my brain refines the idea over and over, working out the principal and the practice of it, knowing my skills and limitations incorporating that into the refinement and then at some point I make a decision to do it. When I’m not doing that I find inspiration from everything around me, it’s sort of like looking at the world and only seeing art. Like I’m living in an ever-moving always changing painting of colour feeling and thought. Taking things I see like a puddle of diesel seeing the colours the flow working out how the composition flows through the natural form of gravity and unnatural form of the concrete it sits on for example. It would be a lie why to say I was not inspired by other artists I find that all artists inspire each other. This is one of the reasons the Promethean art Collective came to be.