This exhibition opened Friday 6th July. Steve’s second exhibition at Pyramid Gallery includes an eclectic mix of works titled ‘Musings of an Erratic Mind’, and runs until 2nd September.
As actor Steve Huison prepared for his forthcoming exhibition at Pyramid Gallery, Terry asks him some probing questions…
Terry: Your acting career distracted you from studying Art. What was it that took you back to drawing and painting?
Steve: I hadn’t done any serious drawing or painting for around 28 years thanks to poor tuition and lack of guidance I received from art school. Six years ago, I joined a life class at my local community centre. Towards the end of the first session I had an epiphany that I could still do this. I enjoyed doing it! There was no stopping me.
T: Tell me about your first exhibition of fellow actors that raised money for the mental health charity ‘Soteria Network’
Steve: It was a one off exhibition at a Gallery in Manchester. The end of my 30 month stint at Coronation Street seemed a valuable opportunity to capture portraits of some of the cast. I wanted to try and portray them as the people I had got to know rather than their better known characters. The extensive publicity turned out to be a good kickstarter for my evolving post-soap career.
T: How important was being involved in the charity to you?
Steve: Extremely important at the time. We were committed to raising funds and launching what was to be one of the only Soteria houses in the country. It worked at providing a space for people going through first episode psychoses, and assisting them in working through it without state intervention and minimal medication.
T: You talk about having an erratic mind. How does that affect what you do and what you achieve?
Steve: I’ve never been much good at just sticking to one thing. Other art forms constantly distract my attention and ignite new ideas for me, which I am never short of. Once they’re in there rattling around in my mind I have to try them out. Consequently I can turn my hand to a variety of creative outlets including acting, stand-up, singing, drawing , painting, sculpting, carving, magic, escapology, and a variety of musical instruments.
T: Do you see an erratic mind as a positive or negative force in your life?
Steve: Mainly positive. I’m lucky in that I never experience boredom. Also having many strings to my bow has helped to get me work over the years, especially in theatre. If there is a negative side it’s that there is never enough time to do everything I want to do. Sometimes I have a tendency to overload myself with various projects. This often means that some form of disastrous crash is always sitting on the horizon. That crash has happened on occasions, which unfortunately can tip me into a depression. I suppose what I’m describing in some ways comes across as bi-polar. I don’t consider myself to be bi-polar as my father had that particular condition, and mine is not as severe, though I do acknowledge the tendency. Fortunately I have a very astute wife who can also recognise it in me, often before I do, and is first to suggest I apply the brakes.
T: Much of your acting work is of a humorous nature. If that comes natural to you, how does it manifest itself in your art?
Steve: I’m not sure if it does to be honest. In my portrait work I like to draw interesting characterful people. They tend to be older, with lived-in faces. I suppose the lines and shapes in a person’s face is the map of their life. Often if they have a humorous personality that can shine out in that map too, and if I can capture that side of their personality I see that as an achievement. I don’t necessarily set out to do a funny drawing though. It’s all about observation and detail. It’s how I look at the world and then interpret it, either on stage, screen or paper.
T: Your first show in Pyramid Gallery was called ‘a Year in Bay’. What was it about?
Steve: Moving to a new community, where I had no contacts or connections, and witnessing how new relationships are formed, and how people go out of their ways to help strangers.
T: Your new show is called ‘Musings of an Erratic Mind’. Why did you chose that?
Steve: I spent the last year trying out various themes for this exhibition. And like I said previously my mind gets a new idea and I’m distracted off in that direction. After a while I started to worry thinking I wasn’t going to hit the deadline, but then I stepped back and analysed what I was doing. I’d subjectively thought I might have a ‘block’ but actually I realised I have a collection of work that bears little resemblance to each other, but says everything about how my mind and creativity works. I’m sure there are a lot of us out there that see this as a failing, without actually acknowledging the turnover of work that’s been achieved.
T: Another manifestation of your talents are the ‘Cabaret Saltaire’ characters ‘Squinty McGinty’ and ‘Korvorra Czeztikov’. These allow you to say out loud the things that the rest of us sometimes think but would never dare to say. Is this in conflict with what you are putting across as an artist, or can you see a link between those two different forms of art?
Steve: When I’m playing those characters it’s always improvisation. It wouldn’t work scripted. Sometimes I hear myself on stage saying their words and I think ‘Good God! Did I just say that and get away with it?’ When I’m in that ‘zone’ I just let the character do the talking. Drawing can be a similar experience, if I’ve warmed up enough into it and am in the ‘zone’. There’s a decision behind every mark that’s made, and when that mark is made with confidence and alacrity it can produce some startling effects.
T: What motivates you to write and perform Cabaret Saltaire?
Steve: As I say very little of it is written apart from the running order. I like to think that’s what interests some of our long standing audience members; they know it’s slapdash and thrown together on the night and it gives it an edge of comic vulnerability. That feeling motivates me, and the wage of course. After all it’s how I make my living.
T: And what motivates you to draw and paint?
Steve: The task of setting out to capture and complete something. And the solitude of the process.
T: Are you going to nurture or tame the erratic mind?
Steve: Nurture it. Look after it, and listen to any warning bells.
T: How would you describe your approach to a portrait?
Steve: Generally I only draw people I’ve met on a few occasions or have suddenly been struck by their features. I’ll then either invite them round for a sitting or arrange to meet them at their place.
T: Where next for your art?
Steve: Latex. I’m working with latex this week.