With the famous New York graffiti artist KAWS' giant bears exhibition currently running at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and Bonhams seeing record prices for its Banksy prints, urban art is definitely trending this side of the pond. So we're excited to exclusively reveal that the UK’s hottest new street artist, Dale vN Marshall, will be unveiling a ground-breaking exhibition exploring mental health issues during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August.
The Pink House caught up with art consultant Vanessa Brodrick, who is working closely with Dale on his upcoming Edinburgh exhibition, to find out more about the artist and his motivations.
PH: Vanessa, can you tell us a bit more about Dale's summer exhibition?
VB: The exhibition will be held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile for a month from 4 August. It will involve Dale collaborating with young people who have suffered from mental health issues, who use the power of the spoken word to heal and support one another. Dale will select powerful statements and words expressed by these young people and incorporate them into a new body of work produced specifically for this exhibition.
PH: What experience does Dale have of mental health issues?
VB: Dale himself has battled both addiction and mental health issues from a young age. A contemporary of Banksy, he spent his teenage years as 'Vermin' (hence the 'vN' in his name), sharing his story through illegal graffiti on the streets of Bristol. In 1999, after extensive drug use and psychotic episodes, he was sectioned in one of Britain's oldest asylums, known as the Cornwall County (Lunatic) Asylum. He suffered clinical depression for another seven years before coming off his antipsychotic medication.
PH: That's pretty heavy stuff. Looks like Dale has come a long way.
VB: Oh yes - since graduating from Coventry University's art school, Dale has had loads of successful solo exhibitions in London and the USA. His 2014 major solo exhibition, 'Walls with Wounds' at the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry, was an instant sellout and the longest-running UK museum exhibition of any graffiti artist except Banksy. His work is collected internationally and he has a large underground following.
PH: How would you describe Dale's work?
VB: Dale continues to use text and his moniker from his graffiti days to form the body of all his paintings. The canvasses are multi-layered and heavily textured; he uses a variety of mediums and methods - such as stretched string to symbolise stitches - with a strong emphasis on the paint process and mark making.
H: Why do you think Dale's work is connecting with so many people right now?
VB: Dale's work is real and raw, and deals with a subject people find difficult to talk about. Mental illness is something of an epidemic right now - it exists in every family, but people tend to brush it under the carpet. Dale takes the subject and gives it a proper airing; like Lady GaGa and her incredibly moving Oscars performance on surviving sexual abuse, he knows that the more we communicate, the better - his work gives mental health sufferers and their loved ones hope - it's something tangible to engage with.
PH: What does his work mean for young people with mental health problems?
VB: Dale is the polar opposite of the perfect Instagram world. Everything he does and creates is genuine, and inspired by his experiences as a survivor. This is inspirational for young people - he's helping them embrace the reality of their situation and not be embarrassed about sharing their own, genuine experiences. Dale himself is inspired by children and their unspoiled, unencumbered approach to art. Like them he always strives to be true to himself, and to encourage others to do the same.