31 January 2020
Colourful tales of growing up in Fife and then heading to the Big Smoke in search of adventure were all part of the reminiscences when Richard Jobson and David Mach met up at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries (DCL&G) on Thursday evening.
The pair of famous Fifers got together for an ‘In Conversation’ event held by ONFife to mark the end of Mach’s large-scale installation Odyssey exhibition, which closes on Sunday.
For internationally renowned artist and sculptor Mach, looking back covered fond memories growing up in a bustling, thriving Methil, where the docks were busy, neighbouring brickworks were open and mining was still going strong, and which, to him, felt like the centre of the universe.
The son of a Polish father and Glaswegian mother, he was never picked on for being ‘different’ in the close-knit community; instead his father’s background and trips to Poland, where soldiers with rifles guarded the border and the spending power of a pound made you feel rich, all gave him a feeling of being exotic.
His Methil upbringing instilled in him a ferocious work ethic if not necessarily an ambitious drive for fame. Not working, even if he hated the job, was not an option, though he attributed his early success to great advice, being bold and an element of luck.
Tipped off that there was a huge surplus of books available in Hay-on-Wye, now renowned for its annual literature festival, he travelled to the Welsh town rather than stay in London and created one of his first large-scale sculptures using the books. Within weeks he had grabbed the attention of the art world, three of his works sold and he had never looked back.
While he still has his studio in London, he spends an increasing amount of time in Largo, being inspired by long walks on the same beach he had walked on as a boy.
As well as his art, which ranges from the installations made from unorthodox materials to small-scale collages created from old Commando comics, Mach is also now involved in architecture projects, one in Edinburgh and a second in Damascus in Syria.
Jobson recalled days as a teenage punk growing up in west Fife, hanging out with pals, equally exotic in their dress and hair, in Lochore.
There was the story of when the ‘Ballingry Boys’ travelled to Kirkcaldy for a night out, only to make a hasty escape on an Alexander’s bus stolen from the depot on the Esplanade when a battle with locals threatened, or when he appeared, shirtless in a dinner suit with his hair dyed black and white, at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, with other members of The Skids in attendance for support.
A burning desire to live life to the full and experience as much as possible – he has epilepsy and believed he wasn’t going to live long – saw him move to London at 16 and then on to Berlin.
In many ways his career, which has included writing, film-making and television presenting, has gone full circle. He said the renewed interest in The Skids and the demand for them to play – they recently performed in London’s Albert Hall – were bringing him great joy, as well as another good reason to keep returning to Fife.
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Notes to editors:
· Fife Cultural Trust (ONFife) manages and operates theatres, libraries, museums and galleries and cultural partnerships on behalf of Fife Council for people living, working and visiting Fife. Further information about Fife Cultural Trust can be found online at www.onfife.com