My London: Interview with Marc Quinn
Where do you live and why?
I live in Chalk Farm because it’s close to the West End, to Primrose Hill and to my studio in Shoreditch. I also like the fact it’s on top of a hill and so you get fresh air, which is always a good thing.
How long have you lived there?
About three years before that I was living and working in my old studio in Clerkenwell.
What is your earliest London memory?
I can’t remember how old I was, but it’s of seeing that odd sculpture on Chelsea Embankment of a boy holding on to a dolphin’s fin. Though I’m not sure that that’s the reason I became an artist.
What do you miss most when you’re out of London?
Mainly being able to do anything, such as go to the cinema or to a great restaurant, at a moment’s notice. But, most of all, I miss my friends.
What are your favourite home comforts?
The art I own is my greatest luxury. In particular, a sculpture by Jason Shulman called Double Solpadeine of the painkiller dissolving in a glass of water. I love that piece. Some of his work can be seen at the Scope Art Fair I’m helping to curate.
What would you do if you were Mayor for the day?
I’d erect lots of art around London, especially public sculptures: not just mine, of course, though I’d slip in a few of my pieces. It would, however, take rather longer than a day, so you’d have to extend my tenure.
What is your life philosophy?
Embrace it all now.
How do you get around town?
By car and taxi.
Do you have a favourite pub? What’s so special about it?
I haven’t been to a pub for about ten years. I can’t even say I have a regular bar or club. I tend to go to friends’ houses to socialise, usually when they’re there.
Which aftershave do you wear?
None. I go au naturel.
What are your current projects?
Well, I’m pretty busy: I’m working on the sculpture for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. I’ve also got the Frieze Art Fair coming up, where I’ll be showing a new series of sculptures at the White Cube stand. They’re kind of figurative forms, originally made of meat, then cast in metal.
What were the last books you bought?
Napoleon’s Buttons, a popular science book by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson about 17 molecules that have changed history, which I found fascinating. I also bought Spanish Steps by Tim Moore, an account of his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, with a donkey.
What have been your most memorable London meals?
The many meals I’ve had over the years at The Ivy and The River Café (right) all seem to blend into one, but it’s a very memorable one.
What items are in your autumn wardrobe?
I’m not sure I specifically have an autumn wardrobe but I do have some lovely new pashmina shirts I had made for me in India. They’re soft and white. I also buy shirts from Turnbull & Asser.
Where were the last three places you went on holiday?
I’ve recently been to Sardinia, Iceland and India: a nice contrast. I loved the rocks in Sardinia, the geysers in Iceland and the people in India.
What was the last play you saw in London and did you enjoy it?
It was The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, with Gillian Anderson at the Royal Court. She’s a friend so that’s why I was there, but I enjoyed it hugely. It was about an artist who goes mad. So, obviously, I found it most inspirational.
What are your extravagances?
Green & Black’s butterscotch chocolate.
What advice would you give to a tourist?
Go to all the traditional tourist places and sights: the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the Changing of the Guard. They’re clichés, but they are fantastic. So don’t worry about the perceived tackiness and enjoy them.
What shops do you rely on?
Brindisa in Exmouth Market: I love their Spanish food. Costas Antoniou, my tailor on Gray’s Inn Road, who is superb. Allens on Mount Street, the best butcher in London. And I love Primrose Hill Books.
What was the last CD you bought?
I bought a Joni Mitchell one and Prodigy’s Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned. I intend to play them simultaneously. They really complement each other.