Darren Cullen is an artist that the right wing press absolutely love to get outraged by. They rarely seem to realise that the people they think they’re getting outraged for actually love his work.
Hello there Darren, how’s it going? It’s raining, I hope you own an umbrella.
I’ve flirted with the idea of umbrella ownership but the only time I’ve found them genuinely useful is in the middle of summer while scrambling about in baking hot fields. I highly recommend them for that type of lark, they’ll save your entire life.
Noted. So are you actually going to make the rush hour Scalextrix? How will that work? One thousand controllers?
I’m working on a real-life toy version of it at the moment. Most of the cars are going to be automated with only about four player cars. The biggest problem so far is avoiding them all just shunting into the back of each other like a big train, but I have some ideas as to how to get around it, mostly involving magnets. All good ideas involve magnets. Planning on showing it at an exhibition at The Abacus in Cardiff in May (TBC).
Did the idea come to you when you were sitting in traffic?
I can’t remember exactly but I’ve done some work before about the way that toys prepare children for life in a capitalist society. I’m also really interested in the disappointment of consumerism. Scalextric was always one of those toys that looked incredible in the adverts but turned out to be pretty shit once you played it for five minutes. I’m hoping my version can be even more boring than it looks.
You just spent virtually the whole summer at Dismaland with your kids pocket money loan store, have you recovered from that yet?
I think I might have broken the part of my brain that knew I was only pretending to work in a payday loan shop for kids. Being at Dismaland that long was intense but actually a total joy to be able to put my work inside that many eyeballs, and it’s lead to me being able to start thinking about bigger and more technically complicated pieces, like fucking traffic jam Scalextric sets. I’ve also since moved into a studio in an old hairdressers in Lewisham the front of which I’ll be opening as a gallery. That might be slightly fun or really annoying, it’s hard to tell at this stage.
You’re known for your work being a bit antagonising (and also brutally truthful), especially the armed forces stuff – have you ever found yourself in a pub talking to squaddies and they’ve asked to see any of your work? That could be awkward…
It’s actually quite surprising how many veterans really like my anti-military work. I’ve had orders for my Join the Army comic from dozens of ex-soldiers and even a few serving squaddies having it sent direct to their barracks. The only abuse I’ve really had about any of it has been from civillians who think they’re defending the honour of the troops. A lot of the soldiers I’ve met have a much darker and more sceptical view of armed service, they have a gallows sense of humour and tend to view the hero worship you see in the media as ridiculous.
Where can we see more of your work?
My website spellingmistakescostlives.com, also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.