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A Magazine for Sheffield

Pete McKee: A Love Letter to Sheffield

Pete McKee is one of the most immediately identifiable artists currently working in Sheffield. Even if you haven't heard the name, chances are the images on these pages will jog your memory, because he has taken on scores of local and international projects over the last few years, both commercial and self-initiated. Starting his career as a cartoonist, first for Sheffield Wednesday and then for the Sheffield Telegraph, Pete has also been working with painting in recent years, enabling him to scale up his lovable, undeniably Northern characters, directly inspired by his upbringing and life in his home city. Pete's work is on permanent display at his gallery A Month of Sundays on Sharrow Vale Road, as well as in regular exhibitions at other venues across Sheffield, the UK and the world. [imagebrowser id=17] What started you creating? The desire never to do a decent day's work as long as I lived. Tell us a bit about the pieces you have submitted for this issue of Now Then. This is my love letter to Sheffield in 2012. As wonderful as my up bringing was, the Sheffield of today needs celebrating too. Tools. What do you use regularly and what is your favourite? Numerous 2B pencils in varying degrees of bluntness, a load of brushes in varying degrees of disrepair and dozens of tins of paints in varying degrees of solidification. The tool I favour/use most is a rubber. How do you spend your days? I spend my days running around like a blue-arsed fly, fretting about the state of the economy and waiting for flashes of inspiration to enter my mind. My best ideas very rarely come when I'm sat in front of a blank piece of paper. The best thing I can do is go and do something mundane like brush my teeth or clean out the cupboard under the sink, then bingo! I've formulated an idea that will take the world by storm. How has your art evolved over time? I'm constantly reassessing what I do, why I do it and how to do it. All I need is the time to do it. The evolution in my work has been deliberately subtle. I have a plethora of subject matter to tackle and ideas to fulfill in a style that people will know. I've no desire to cut a gerbil in half, stick QVC diamonique jewels to a skull or display the contents of a teenage council house bedroom just yet. Any tips on how to approach art as a profession? Stop scratching your arse, get out there and do it. Do you have any exhibitions coming up in the near future? We currently have my latest collection of work on display, The Girls Can't Help It. This is my homage to pulp fiction book cover illustrations and a testimony to the power of women. For readers who are unaware, what is A Month of Sundays and what is going on down there currently? A Month of Sundays is a gallery on Sharrow Vale Road that has a permanent display of my work but also operates as a gallery for other art. We try to be inventive with our exhibitions but also show work that people actually want to see. We also try to make the gallery as welcoming and fun as possible. What makes you smile in art? Any local artists doing it for you right now? I hate art that is full of bum notes. Art can be free-form with the odd jazz chord thrown in, but stuff that is poorly played makes me sad. So I suppose art with a good strong melody makes me smile. Kid Acne and Mick Marston are prime examples of the good. This isn't a criticism of people who create art for their own pleasure - if it makes you happy then that's all that matters. How have you been involved with the recent protests against the cuts to Sheffield Museums funding? I organised a picnic in the Millennium Gallery one Sunday afternoon. It was heartwarming to see the response. Loads of families came and the kids filled a 60ft roll of paper with drawings and writing letting out their feeling about art and its importance. Why have you remained in Sheffield all these years? Were you tempted to move away at any point? Where else am I going to get a proper fishcake buttie and a decent pint? Good advice you wish you'd been told earlier? Don't sign contracts without getting a lawyer to read them first - EVER! )

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