CONCRETE spoke with Dion Kitson; artist, curator, and football fan, about his instinctive practice in the Midlands.

How would you explain what you do to a person in the street?
I react to my environment and experiences, whatever excites me, whatever finds its way to my feet. This can be anything from cigarettes, football or the Iraqi Super Gun. It’s an instinctive process, mini investigations into the mundane or the monumental take place, the result is sometimes painting, sculpture or film.

What do you want to say with your work?
I’m alive, this is how I see the world.

Can you talk me through your process?
I work off impulse. I sit: I daydream, and things occur; sometimes I’ll reflect on my environment; sometimes I’ll reflect on my experiences.

The subject matter of Dudley in your works (for example, Detritus – Ode to a Home Town) shows the disconnection between an advertised dream and a lived reality. Places like Dudley are places that the arts forget. Is memory something you think about with your work?
Every time I travel round the UK I realise most of it looks and feels the same. Everywhere seems to be suffering from post industrial spiritualism. It seems we are haunted by industrial decline. I came to the conclusion early on that my hometown was this universal metaphor for most of the UK. Working with these experiences, narratives, and objects can evoke and reflect something about the underbelly of the British psyche, and maybe this is beneficial. I don’t want to be an artist super hero who believes that their art can help people. I just respond to what I see and feel. It’s about reflecting aspects of everyday life and not lecturing people in an academic or theory-led way. I want to unlearn everything I’ve been taught.

You like working with found objects. Why do you think that is?
Kurt Schwitters, I started off making assemblages similar to his. From there it slowly progressed to the objects being able to speak for themselves with a minimal input from me.

Fireplace, 2021.

One work using found objects of yours which I really like is Fireplace (2021). It’s got a Cabinet of Wonders aspect to it, owing to the shape of the fireplace and its implied invitation to the viewer to peer past its grate and to watch John Wayne in The Searchers. How did this work come about?
The electric fireplace is a standard council grade furnishing. Seeing it made me think of the many hours I’ve spent sitting watching TV, a John Wayne film, warmth, a Sunday roast. Within an hour of finding the electric fireplace I’d started playing The Searchers by inserting it through its grill. It’s a nostalgia trip for the viewer. Weirdly, Foka Wolf walked past the same fireplace and thought, “I bet Dion would like that”.

Similarly, a lot of your sculptures use footballs, and your most recent videos include footage of famous football games (Have a word, 2021). Why are you artistically drawn to the trappings of football?
I played football for years. It’s only natural for it to seep into my practice. It’s romantic, the narratives and its thriving culture; it’s beautiful to watch. The films are sketches really, a search for rhyme.

Chipped, 2020.

You work in other mediums, too, and I think your videos are some of your most interesting works. There is a big difference between The Wheel (2014) and The things that we’ve learnt are no longer enough (2021). What do you think has changed there?
The Wheel was me figuring out how to use a camera properly and edit. I have had a camera since my early teens and would always film things that excited me: someone cutting a cherry tree down with a transit van, horses running wild in the street, etc. I was recording and making a document of the things accessible to me. Nothing has changed now; The Wheel is an exercise in attempting to convey pathos within a found object. At the time it was pushing a wheel around to make it seem it was alive.

With films like I guess I’m just lying to myself (2021), what are you saying?
They’re just video collages.

You have described some of your work as public interventions. Who do you want to reach with these?
It’s work that is created to live outside the art world and galleries, for the unsuspecting audience and viewer – a lot of it feels like littering, beer mats, ashtrays, and posters. I’ve always enjoyed placing art where it shouldn’t exist, and infiltrating an audience that doesn’t necessarily view art.

FW BARGINS shop front, 2022.

Currently you have a space with Hypha Studios. Can you tell me a little bit about FW BARGINS which is set up there?
Hypha Studios were brilliant enough to provide me with a space in my hometown. I collaborated with Foka Wolf on a fake shop. We wanted to create something that people recognised and wanted – and people want bargains. FW BARGINS was born, low brands at high prices. We create a collection of recognisable brands, to lure the viewing into thinking they were getting a bargain, but in actual fact it was Baby Jesus in a can. A lot has been said about FW BARGINS, all of it is bollocks and over thought. We wanted camouflage Foka Wolfs work and humour into the high street, some people don’t even notice that Frosty Jack Cider is ‘Cham Pain’.

At the Manchester Art Fair 2021, you told me you represented Foka Wolf, the street artist and self proclaimed ‘Professional Gobshite’. I spoke to you because you were showing his work, 4×4 (2018). What’s your connection to Foka Wolf?
I knew their work would be really successful in Manchester, Mancunians have a sense of humour. It’s perfect territory for Foka Wolf, I think we met in a pub a few years back.

What does humour give art? What does it give your art?
It breaks down any preconceived notion of what art should be, what it should look like and what the viewer should feel. Galleries are like places of worship – as spaces they hold a great weight which can become intimidating, I want my work to cut through this and become more accessible to more people.

Clickbait NFTs, 2022.

NFTs – worth it or worthless? Why?
I made some that looked like clickbait, no one noticed.

Who makes good art, in your opinion?
I’m not an authority.

What do you dream about?
Being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a rubber dingy.

What makes you feel accomplished?
Working hard.

Self Portrait with World’s Largest Frazzle, 2020

If you could time travel, where and when would you go?
I’d travel to Lascaux 15,000 BCE and show them the bin I found with their lovely paintings on it.

What’s something you tried for the first time this year and enjoyed?
Amber Leaf Tobacco.

You can find out more about Dion Kitson here.