Eddie Peake is a London-based artist who has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions since leaving the Slade in 2006. Now he’s preparing to travel to Rome for a one-year residency. Peake met Bear di Menna after she had vomited from the mouth of a bear costume as part of an art performance at a gallery in Shoreditch. Interested to find out more, they asked each other some questions via email.
Eddie Peake: Why ‘Bear’ and not, say, a monkey?
Bear: A bear because they’re big and hairy.
EP: What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your whole life?
B: I was very into seeing the sun rise at one point, and I was a little bored of staying up or waking up to see it from my house, or the other places I liked to watch it from; I wanted something a little higher. I tried to ride a bicycle up a mountain that was near my house with a friend so we could make it to the top for the best sunrise watching. At about 4.30 a.m., when it was still dark, we were about halfway up the mountain when we saw a huge blue and white fireball trailed by smaller blue fireballs falling from the sky toward us. The mountain is quite high so it really felt as if it would crash into us, or it was Armageddon. We had given up on riding our shoddy bicycles by then, of course, and we ditched them and were walking. But when the fireball thing happened we lay on the ground and watched them fall from the sky, and after they were gone we continued to lie there for some time. We didn’t talk the rest of the way, we just walked and kept looking down at the city below to see if something Armageddon-ish was happening. Then the most spectacular sunrise happened. The next day there was a small article in the newspaper that said some Russian space junk burned up on its way into the atmosphere and landed somewhere in Montana. No one knew the junk was going to come into the atmosphere so it was recorded that only one official space scientist saw it by chance. It was exciting to think that we were possibly two of the few people that saw the whole thing burn up. That’s kind of a beautiful thing, right?
EP: Do you have any major regrets?
B: No. I’m not interested in thinking like that, and that question reveals too much for me … anyway, do you?
EP: I guess I do tend to regret things but I wish I wouldn’t. Mainly, I regret silly, insignificant things like that joke I cracked that fell like a lead balloon or letting that arsehole get away with having made that sarcastic remark about me. Sometimes I regret having gone to the art school I went to, but only sometimes.
EP: Was there any defining moment from your life that made you think you wanted to be an artist?
B: Someone told me that I was making art; I didn’t realize it. So I thought, this thing I am doing comes so naturally I will try art for a bit. How did you end up making art?
EP: I made some wicked paintings when I was seventeen, which caught me slightly off guard, but very suddenly made me feel extremely confident. Up until that point, although art had always been very present in my life (because many members of my family are artists) I hated the idea of being an artist myself.
B: Is music important to you?
EP: Yes, extremely, but not live. I detest live music.
B: What do you find exciting?
EP: Football. Playing and watching. Fights are exciting too, even though they make my legs go weak and make me feel sick to my stomach. Dancing is exciting … I’m often attracted to things I know I dislike, unfortunately, so maybe there is some excitement in things I dislike. Somewhere near the top of the list is driving … I guess this list could go on forever … Not too long ago I was in a car crash. It was scary in the extreme and damaging in a number of ways, but I can’t deny that the memory of it excites me. Having said that, I feel the same way about suicide.
B: Can I come visit you in Rome?
EP: Si! That means ‘Yes!’ in Italian.
EP: How do you feel about the future?
B: That’s all I feel.