“Martin likes waiting to make decisions; it keeps you on your toes,” Tom Hunt, a director at Hauser & Wirth
London, tells a group of journalists as we enter the first room of
’s new show in Bruton, Somerset. As we wait for the artist, the day before the show’s opening, the gallery is alive with the bustle of technicians, press, and gallery employees. Creed soon emerges, looking sharp in a well-tailored suit worn over a bright orange jumper, holding the remains of a green juice. “I think they’re just made of grass, I’ve seen the guy mow the lawn and serve it up,” he says with a laugh, before delving into the surrounding exhibition. “I was trying not to plan this show too much,” he explains as he begins to walk us through the show. “Life is messy and moving all the time.”
Creed is in the middle of something of a moment. In addition to this show, the artist is just weeks away from a major show at the Park Avenue Armory
in New York. Earlier this month he unveiled a large Public Art Fund
commission in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and in July he’ll release a new music album called Thoughts Lined Up.
Eschewing the term “conceptual” for “expressionist,” the British artist’s works over the years have considered the ambiguity of everyday experience, and the intermingling of art and life. Throughout his career, many of Creed’s works and exhibitions have embodied the sensibility of a live extended performance, rather than a static display. Take for example his 2006 work comprised of an automated grand piano; its top would slowly open, then quickly slam shut, and repeat. Or, his 2014 Hayward Gallery
show, for which he mounted a car on the roof of the building that would regularly erupt into the sound of alarms, its doors swinging open wildly. Creed’s new shows, in Somerset and New York, continue this tradition, but in new ways.
Taking over five galleries, the exhibition at Hauser & Wirth Somerset presents an array of work including paintings, drawings, sculpture, video, and sound work derived from voice recordings. Creed is the sixth artist to undertake the Hauser & Wirth artist residency in Somerset, but he’s the first to use the experience to develop a body of work for a show on site. Over the last six weeks Creed (and his dog Jimmy) became part of the local community, living and working at The Maltings studios on Bruton’s High Street. When asked if his mode of working changed when he was outside of London (where he lives and has his studio), Creed says yes, mainly due to the fact he’s been a guest. “I’ve been well looked after; it’s quite a luxurious experience,” he admits, but notes that he didn’t want to become too comfortable. “When I’m away, life is simplified because a lot of things are taken care of, so I can live in a weird bubble.” His anxiety about this bubble, an invisible barrier between life and art, and the necessity of breaking out of it, underscores the exhibition.