Meet David Mach RA

Here at Art on a Postcard we are delighted to have David Mach RA as one of our Artists participating in our Art on a Ukulele project. David is a Scottish mixed media artist known most for his work installation pieces and sculptures. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in London in 1982 and has since exhibited worldwide. Following several solo shows and public installations, he was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998. Since 2000 he has worked as the Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts. David’s work is unapologetic, visceral and bold, the Scotsman described his work as ‘big on gesture and big in proportion, it demands your attention and gets it’. He uses a range of mass-produced objects including match sticks, coat hangers, pins, newspapers and postcards to achieve his awe-inspiring pieces.

David’s work seizes you and commands you to look. Giant gorillas made of coat hangers, double sized female figures made out of dominos, 6000 tyres made into a submarine, his work is never subtle and nor does it want to be. It is work that forces you to feel and bowls you over with its presence. When asked what he wants people to get from his work David says that he wishes it to be ‘mentally stimulating in some way. To get the heart racing and the hairs standing on the back of your neck.’
David has worked a lot with matchsticks, often creating busts of famous figures. The nature of this material is that these delicate pieces maintain a sense of self-destruction and a lingering danger. David sold his first one to an art dealer in the 80’s, who accidentally set it alight when he was cleaning it. Distressed and panicked he called David who arrived to find it burnt still maintaining its shape. He says that after this he knew that these heads are performance pieces, in a sense they are part of a process of creation going from burning potential to a ball of flames to a waste ground where destruction had taken place. Given this, David decided to set a bust of the devil alight outside in public, creating a spectacle of a stagnant art piece. He describes the ‘flames licking the form of the face’ in a ‘ferocious act of creating’.

Devil Head


Devil Head - Burned

Similarly his installation is always epic in message, size and feeling. In his 2017 London exhibition Mach created an improvised piece from 20,000 tonnes of newspapers and a Jeep. David is very much a part of the building process, willing to put in the graft and get down and dirty with his materials, standing back and improvising with them. In this piece, the paper creates waves rising high above the viewer and a jeep cascades down it in mid-motion as though it has crashed through the ceiling. There is a consciousness to this piece that relates to the environment and human destruction, of the physical rolling over the intellectual. But it doesn’t wait for you to intellectualise it, he wants you to feel it.

For an artist who likes to grab the attention of the viewer it follows that he should take to the public space as often as David does. The Big Heids in Glasgow and Out of Order in Kingston have become part of both communities, whether they perplex, confuse, or inspire the viewer, you can’t ignore them. As an artist he is unafraid and works as though limits are futile, only holding back to a point. It is most definitely an expression of himself and he says ‘if you’re gonna do it, do it right, you know?’. He also swears a lot but jokingly insists he is a very polite person, but not too polite that it’s going to hold him back. He is self-aware and knows what he wants from his pieces, what is it that he likes about his work most? ‘It seems to be irritating’ he says with a smile.

We’re extremely excited to see in what innovative manner David Mach approaches our Art on a Ukulele project so please join us to find out more and how you can be a part of it by visiting our Phundee page here and by signing up to our mailing list (at the bottom of the page) to receive updates about this project and to find out about our crowdfunding campaign, the rewards we are offering and be part of the process over the next few months.

About the writer
Rosa Torr is a final year BA Politics and Philosophy student from London currently at University College Dublin. Her place of interest is political theory and in particular Gender Studies. Rosa has written for numerous online publications and the University Observer. She is also a theatre maker and is currently co-artistic director of BUMP&GRIND Theatre Company. The show she co-wrote BUMP will be on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.

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