Satirical Street Artist Mau Mau heads brings his animal farm back to london in his 3 day pop-up exhibition: Power to the Sheeple
Oh the General Election…the baying of MPs and party leaders, the bleating of party slogans, the shepherding of voter loyalties, Russell Brand jumping off and on the political bandwagon, the inevitable disappointing yet predictable outcome… you could be forgiven for thinking the whole thing has gone to the dogs… or in this case the sheep, the foxes, and the chickens!!!
Master of mischief, animal lover, and one of the UK’s best known satirical street artists, Mau Mau returns to London’s Westbank Gallery. Presenting a 3 day show peppered with political commentary ,a healthy sense of humour, and a cast of Mau characters on canvas and in installation – from ballot box battery hens and sheep as they haven’t been seen before to porcine forces of order and as ever Mau fox deviancy.
Whether on the street on in the gallery, Mau Mau is an artist who always attracts a good crowd. The nature of his work as a street artist consistently unafraid to ask questions about the state of the world at the time – and his longevity on the street art scene has won him an international fan base and by the looks of things only several minutes into this most recent show, some pretty lucrative sales. It also helps that he’s a really nice guy!
I caught up with Mau Mau after opening night to chat about the show, his favourite spots to paint, and what we can expect from him next…
Your work has appeared across the globe! From giant wall pieces in Trenchtown, to Japan, Thailand and even the side of a Devon barn. If you had total freedom, where would be your dream spot to paint? or see your work?
MAU MAU: Yeah I love to travel and paint. Sometimes I have a place in mind for a piece and sometimes, a piece in mind for a place! So every one has a ‘dream spot’ and its great when you find it and get the chance to paint it.
The Mau Mau Fox plays a pretty huge role in your work. And for your recent show you brought a whole barn full of animals including sheep, and battery chickens! Where did the idea to use animals in your work come from?
I have always loved animated cartoons since I was young and have always been drawing animals. It also is easier for me to add humour with my characters using animals instead of people I think.
You’ve just returned back to London , what have you been up too?
I have been in Thailand working with Souled Out Studios. I had a show with Beejoir in Tokyo in December and then to Jamaica to paint some walls, paintings and work with Micah Shemaiah and Kingston Dub Club.
You often paint about current affairs and are well known for being one of the most playful and successful satirical street artists. When did you first put the wheels in motion for the ‘Power to the Sheeple’ show?
Me and Beejoir had the idea in Thailand when I was painting Sheeple. So I produced the majority of the work when I reached back to the UK from Jamaica, over the 6 weeks leading up to the election. I also got inspiration from reading Animal Farm.
Did you vote yourself?
Were you happy with the outcome of the election?
I was at show only 15 minutes after it opened and there was already a sea of red stickers!! It’s no secret how bankable your work has become. As your coming up in the contemporary, street art market do you feel more pressure to please your buyers, or do you feel like you’ve only been able to get stronger and more true to your style as you’ve grown?
Yeah I always paint what I like to paint and what I believe in, and I’m happy that my work sells and I can do it for a living!
You’re an artist who has continued to ‘walk the line’ as they say, between gallery and the street. Is there one which you prefer?
I prefer a piece in the street as it can reach a wider audience and also have more impact due to what its painted on and where its painted.
Where do you go in London to feel creative? Party and have fun? Get inspired?
Round to friends for a cuppa ‘n smoke.
What’s your process like when your working on a piece? Do you listen to music? If so, what are you listening too?
Yeah always listen to music! Mainly roots reggae and some hip hop.
Your always travelling and painting all over the globe. Is there a city or place that feels most like home? Where your work feels most organic? Do you have a city where you feel more driven or excited about producing work in?
Bangkok Thailand , Kingston Jamaica and Appledore Devon.
Now that Power to the Sheeple has ended, what can we expect to see from Mau Mau next?
A book, animation, and more painting…
Words by Tracy Kawalik and MauMau
Photos by Tracy Kawalik