You notice his long dreadlocks even before you get introduced to Scotland-based artist Andy Fairgrieve. Ask him what inspires him to keep this look and he says, “It’s important not just to be a character but also to have one.” In Delhi recently, Fairgrieve, curator and co-ordinator of a global Artists in Residence program in Scotland, spoke about his unconventional appearance, hardships that budding artists face the world over and why he looks forward to come back to India every year.
“Robert Burnes, the famous poet, says, To see ourselves as other see us. Truth is I’m lazy and 30 years ago I stopped brushing my hair,” he says with a straight face. Laughter spills and he continues, “I thought how I could look different from the people I meet and I discovered this look… It’s just a happy accident!”
The conversation shifts from light to grim and Fairgrieve expresses his concern about the condition of artists worldwide. “I was informed once that an artist who went to the United States for a residency program for about two months had to live on the roads for more than half the time. Artists aren’t lazy people, they need to work very hard,” he says emphasising why people move from art to other forms of livelihood, not considering art as a sustainable career option.
“When people grow up, most of them forget the creativity that they explored in childhood. You need to connect with the artist and the child in you,” he says. The artist’s dark sense of humour reflects in his work, and Fairgrieve explains why. “Art should make people ask questions. If you stop thinking or asking questions, what is the point of your existence?”
Even Indian streets fascinate this artist. “There are so many colours on the streets here. This is my fifth visit to India and I have seen every aspect of human life on Indian streets – from the barbers to the hawkers. But what I love is the paneer in India…” But that’s not his only exposure to Indian food. “In Scotland we even have our own version of the tikka masala,”he says.
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