Meet New York based artist and Central Saint Martins alumnus, Peter Rippon.
Peter is currently exhibiting his work entitled Imbricated Mirrors at 380 West 12th Street. IG, New York, NY 10014, until 16 April 2016.
On view will be Rippon’s recent mirror-construct series and a new installation. Composed of mirror and other elements, the series and installation will reflect, distort, and implicate viewers as they gaze at the mirrored surfaces in the work and, ultimately, at transformed versions of themselves.
What made you come to study painting at St. Martin’s (now CSM)?
I felt that St. Martin’s was one of the best undergraduate art schools in the country. There was a dynamic staff, full-time and visiting, who were at the cutting edge of Fine Art. Rather than name everyone, check out the teaching roster for the Fine Art Department and indeed for the whole of St. Martin’s, in the late 1960’s early 1970’s, it was pretty impressive.
How has your time at CSM impacted your life and work?
The range of ideas that were “stewing” back then, from Concept Art to steel sculpture, from ground-breaking work in performance and filmmaking, that even overlapped into the fashion dept. All of these shaped my ideas and aspirations. The energy level throughout was very high. After St. Martin’s I went on to do a post graduate degree at the Royal Academy Schools. This, in turn, clarified and consolidated my ambition and direction as far as pure painting was concerned.
What made you decide to leave the UK behind and head to the States?
The weather and Margaret Thatcher!
In 1983 you founded RIPPON DESIGN. What is the best and worst thing about being your own boss?
On the positive side: meeting and working with a number of likeminded individuals who, I hope learnt as much from me as I did from them. Being able to design and create in a way I would not have done had I been working alone. Having some great clients who allowed me to do what I wanted, without too much intervention. On the negative side: having to be at work before everyone else; having to take responsibility for other people’s livelihoods; dealing with day-to-day bureaucratic decisions.
What inspires your work?
All manner of objects, views, sights, places and ideas. I’m a bike rider and every time I climb aboard it reminds me to look afresh at everything around me and in my head.
Is there a project you are most proud of?
No one thing, except that all that I’ve done before has now led me to what I’m doing now, which is making objects -Mirror/Constructs. These are amongst the things which with I’m most satisfied.
What are you working on at the moment? Tell us about your current exhibition?
For the last eight years – really since I finally withdrew from Rippon Design – I’ve gone back to my original Fine Art beginnings, and am now in a position to work on my own individual ideas. I’ve just completed several series of Mirror/Constructs and am currently exhibiting them together with a Mirror installation that grew out of that work and the location where they were being displayed.
What advice would you give our graduates and current students wanting to pursue a life as a practising artist?
Find somewhere to live and work, that you can afford. Also find a means of supplementing your income that minimally interferes with your artistic ambitions. Be true to your own ideals, always be inquisitive and recognize that the majority of what is now being made in the name of art, really is not!
Find out more about the UAL East Coast Alumni Association