Miriam Maselkowski is a creative soul living and working in Liverpool. Whether it be painting, textiles, drawing or woodwork, Miriam finds joy and satisfaction in the simplicity and directness of using her hands in the act of making and in the process of translating an idea into a physical and functional object. We caught up with Miriam at her home and studio to find out more about the milestones of her journey into art, the connecting thread that ties together her work and the creative scene in the city of Liverpool.
For people who are not familiar with your work, who is Miriam Maselkowski?
Making stuff is my favourite thing to do. My work is a series of ideas that have popped into my head. It doesn’t come from theory nor has any deep meaning. I love the simplicity and directness of using my hands to make an idea physical. I use reclaimed wood in my furniture. A piece of wood can have so much character. Its marks and imperfections tell a story. I have a terrible memory for facts. Physical activity including making, and sports, gives me confidence. I like bold, simple things.
Man, I’m struggling to answer this question. Words are pretty far from my forte I’m afraid.
What is your most vivid childhood memory?
Being in the courtyard garden at my Grandmother’s house in Eastbourne and watching her feed a black bird that she’d befriended and named Chocho tiny cubes of cheese.
What about your first memory of art?
From when we were very small, my parents took my brother and I to an art festival called Art in Action in Oxfordshire. Every artist or craftsperson had their own stand where they not only displayed their work but also created their work in front of visitors. You could see massive traditional wooden looms in action; scolding hot iron being bashed and hammered into shape by blacksmiths; portraits being sculpted and taking form in front of your eyes. It was totally awesome!
How did you get into art? What are the milestones of your journey?
Being involved in decorating my parents’ house at about the age of 10 introduced me to a range of hand tools and got me comfortable using power tools. I also discovered the satisfaction of transforming a space. I started making bags out of old trousers using my mum’s sewing machine while at school. I also remember being taken to a timber yard and selecting wood for a bench that I was desperate to make for my parents house. Art and D&T where always my favourite subjects, but it never crossed my mind to take my interest beyond school.
It was while I was applying to university to study physiotherapy that my parents told me about a small independent painting course that was being run by people they knew. I really wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do but it seemed silly to pass up this opportunity. The course was life changing. As well as painting techniques, it taught me not to be afraid of making mistakes, or making a shit piece of work. I think I’d be less happy if I weren’t making things.
You paint, make textile work and beautiful string drawings, as well as designing and making furniture pieces. How would you define the connecting thread or underlying ethos that ties together your work?
I think it is probably the approach to each piece of work that links them. An idea which is simultaneously fuzzy and clear comes into my head. I have a rough plan as to how the idea will be made, but mainly I work it out on the way. This allows for the possibility of including unusual details. I use the simplest techniques and methods in order to achieve the result. Thinking about it now, the decisions I make during the making process are generally guided by the feeling that I don’t want to take myself or the work too seriously. I also try to include willies, buttocks and nipples in my work wherever possible. I feel that the string portraits are an anomaly. The first ones were fun and exciting because I was inventing and honing a technique. But the feeling whilst making them is now more technical than creative.
Where do you find inspiration, and what motivates you to keep going?
A super mega massive second hand furniture warehouse next to my studio called IBS. That’s right, IBS! All the stuff is falling apart and mouldy but it’s awesome. I’ll take you there. Abakhan Fabrics. All the fabrics, buttons and ribbons in the world. 4D Model shop in London. It has 3D polystyrene shapes. I love polystyrene shapes. Motivation doesn’t really come into it. I just like making stuff.
You are a Liverpool based artist. How does the city influence you creatively and how would you describe the city’s arts scene?
I moved here 3 years ago, and a combination of shyness and trying to get my life a bit in order has meant that I have not spent enough time exploring or getting involved with the art scene. There are people around here who are waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more qualified to talk about this than me. However, at my studio I am surrounded by youthful, energetic people who are running successful creative businesses. It’s totally inspiring and has shown me that it is possible. I find Liverpool has a sort of a ‘go for it’ attitude. There are small, independent businesses all over the place. I see it as an open minded city that allows people and businesses to grow in their own unique way.
How did you find your current studio at The Invisible Wind Factory and what do you love about this creative space?
I was a lucky bastard! In the month that we were moving from London to Liverpool, a friend’s brother posted an advert for new studio spaces in Liverpool. It just so happened that the IWF studios were opening just as I was moving to the city. I couldn’t have hoped to have met a cooler community of people. Geez Louise, they are a talented bunch. They go the extra mile to make some proper amazing shit. Their shows are a spectacle, overflowing with unique creativity. There is great energy here. There is always the sound of people working away. Sometimes when you stay late you hear music pumping from the venue below. I love the sound of life and activity.
Have you ever been given or heard a piece of advice or nugget of wisdom that was particularly impactful and stuck with you for a long time?
Do what you love.
What do you do or where do you go when you want to relax or get inspired?
Relaxing isn’t my favourite. I go to my studio to be calm. I go mountain biking to get scared and be in nature.
What objects or creatures appear most often in your dreams?
I don’t remember my dreams. During my degree I did a whole series of dream paintings. It turned out that they were my brothers’ dreams that I had accidentally stolen.
What are your dreams and ambitions for the future? How do you see yourself evolving as an artist?
My dream is that money, time, space and skill are no longer limitations. That’s my dream and ambition.
And now a question from Éric Poindron’s Weird Questionnaire: What goes on in tunnels?
Can you recommend us:
A book: The God Of Small Things
A song: Peace Train by Cat Stevens
A film: Old Boy
Thank you, Miriam for the warm welcome and heartfelt conversation.