Martin Firrell has been described variously as a cultural activist, a campaigner, a public artist, or benevolent provocateur, stimulating debate in public space to promote positive social change. He has used cinema screens, posters, newsprint, and some of London’s most iconic buildings as canvases for his projection works including: the National Gallery, the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Opera House, Tate Britain, and St Paul's Cathedral. His latest project is the online oracle Metafenella, an interactive digital portrait of the unstoppably fabulous Fenella Fielding.
What is your favourite surface?
The glossy, high-key surface of Hollywood blockbuster science fiction movies.
In what weather do you think best and why?
For some reason, rain has always been connected in my mind with kindness, and I find kindness conducive to thought. I made a work of public art once with the statement ‘Learn to love rain’. I thought if you could learn to think kindly about what most people say they hate, you could think your way to a life of equanimity.
Describe your favourite meal?
Oysters, shallot vinegar, brown bread and butter, with my fiancé Will Jackson, my friend Lana Wachowski and her whyfe Karin Winslow.
What qualities do you most admire in an object?
Its power to provoke; economy of means; symmetry; the colour blue; text; an insistence (implied or inferred) on justice.
What is your first olfactory memory?
Hiding behind the curtains in our playroom: the smell of dust in the fabric warmed by the sun. Saltwater, seaweed, iodine, on the Norfolk coast.
What fictitious place would you most like to visit?
What do you like the smell of?
The sea, lilac, ginger-lily, hot metal, cities, molten candle wax, box trees, lavender, the nape of Will’s neck, red wine, champagne, nail varnish remover, naan bead, frangipani incense, soap, old paper.
Recount your last remembered dream?
The house is falling down. I can’t find my fiancé Will.
How should a table sound?
Like a beast in irons stamping on a beach.
What piece of art would you most like to live with?
The portrait my sister Langham Bailey painted of me when I was 30. Fortunately I do live with it.
Which sense disturbs you most frequently?
Which sense would you miss the most?
My sense of outrage.
What song or piece of music best expresses your mood today?
All Boundaries are Conventions by Tom Tykwer from the Soundtrack of Cloud Atlas.
What is your favourite view from any window?
My own reflection laid over the rest of the world; our relation to the world is the one thing we all have to make sense of somehow.