What is a regular work-day like?
I generally work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Besides creating works, I squeeze in a lot of emails and meetings and a bit of socialising too. Lately I’m traveling a lot for my project in NYC, that adds another tons of meetings, planning and production work. That’s an exhaustive process which takes a lot of my time out of the studio and I’m often out on location shooting for the video installations, bartering for support, hustling for PR, sourcing materials and directing our tiny band of volunteers.
Simon Birch: My best work
Sounds like a lot of work, you must have a team of helpers.
Actually I work alone, with no assistants or anything like that, not even a cleaner. For the current project I do much of the planning and managing though. I am fortunate to have all kinds of generous people contribute to all the things I can’t handle.
Simon Birch: My works & creative process
“And half the work ends up in the trash.”
There are a lot of ‘freeze moments’ in your paintings, why are they important (to you)?
I guess I’m trying to hold on to something that’s lost forever.
What inspires you?
Everything. Today it’s big waves, UK garage, science fiction, Crass, love, snow, wilderness, Burkhard Heim, DJ EQ, Schoolboy Q…. I read, listen to and watch new things constantly, especially music.
What do you do when you are not making art?
I am always engaged in some physical activity. Usually surfing, sometimes Ju-Jitsu, hiking, SUPing (Stand-up Paddle surfing)…. It’s kind of endless. After nearly dying some years back, I make the most of every minute.
“I’m a total culture/life sponge.”
What projects are you working on at the moment?
The project I am working on is called The 14th Factory, it’s a 250,000 square feet installation in NYC. It’s actually 12 installations in one, bound together by a central narrative. It’s experiential, completely immersive once one is through the door – one can see towering sculptures, video environments, performers, darkness, secret passages…. it’s a pitch black wonderland.
Where is your favourite place in Hong Kong?
I like looking down on Hong Kong from the air. It all feels so important when you are in it but from up there you realise how insignificant the city and it’s drama is.
“Perspective is a valuable tool.”
About Simon Birch
Simon Birch is a UK-born artist based in Hong Kong, who has lived and worked in Hong Kong for fifteen years. The winner of the Sovereign Prize Manfred Schoeni Award in 2004 and Louis Vuitton Asian Art Prize in 2007 not only brought new perspectives to portrait paintings, he also ventured into film and installation works, as well as large-scale multi-media art projects like Hope & Glory: A Conceptual Circus (2010) and Daydreaming With… The Hong Kong Edition (2012). Birch is set for a massive project in the New York City and a show in London later this year.
Postscript Before entering the studio, we heard loud noise and pounding sounds. Then Simon answered the door and asked us to wait for a few minutes before he finished the photo shoot. Pounding continued...