by Katharine Cookshaw, May 2009.
Some artists are driven by a relentless creative impulse. Some are blessed with talent in more than one craft. There are some artists whose dedication and innate skill literally shine from their work. Steven V Mitchell is a unique artist with all of these qualities, whose vital energy emanates from him and pulsates through his paintings and sculptures.
Steve’s relentless sense of creativity, personal drive and absolute dedication to his art, combined with unparalleled skill and creative versatility make him one of the most interesting artists I have met. Steve’s complete and obsessive dedication to his work, which is self evident in his carved skulls, is simply awe inspiring, particularly to anyone who has ever attempted to sculpt stone. His mind blowing paintings, which are crafted with the same artistic intelligence and fastidious care are simply unique, as is his attitude to life.
Steve has been through some incredible life changing experiences including living with the Navajo and Hopi tribes in the USA (where he learnt to carve stone) living with the Huron tribe in Canada and undertaking a personal spiritual transition at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. All this of a professional, highly sought after British tattoo artist who, for most of his working life has been based in Chippenham, Wiltshire. In opening his business premises as an art gallery and bringing together the work of international artists, Steve crossed important cultural and commercial boundaries, not to mention putting Chippenham on the UK gallery map. When he recently brought the work of the seminal artist, H R Giger, of ‘Alien’ fame to the gallery, the local press failed to pick up the story. Perhaps the world will catch up with Steve some day.
I met Steve through a show he created in Walcot Chapel in Bath last year. The space was limited as an empty white Chapel with virtually impenetrable walls, but perfect as a blank canvas and a beautiful location for his work. Steve created theatre, art, magic, beauty, humour, surprise, darkness and light in his exhibition, ‘Pandemonium in the Rose Garden’. The show attracted international interest and gave him the confidence and impetus to launch ‘Saturnalia: A Feast for Fools’ at the Horse Hospital in London this year. Once again Steve has brought those ingredients together with a sense of curatorial alchemy. The level of production and energy which has gone in to ‘Saturnalia’ and the new work detailed in this catalogue is simply phenomenal.
Steven V Mitchell is an artist creating his own professional destiny. Against all the odds, Steve’s artistic excellence and determination, combined with the strongest of spirits, a desire to push boundaries and a healthy sense of mischief have prevailed.
On the occasion of the launch of his latest show, I, like many others who have crossed Steve’s path in recent years, would like to take this opportunity to wish him very good fortune.