Sam Venables

Slummy, 2016

Q-N-A with Lilly Atkinson

(Lilly) - We have talked before about the basis of the show being a dream you had, I thought that might be a good place to start - could you tell me about it?

(Sam) - It’s less of a dream and more of a recurring thought/nightmare. The basics are that I’d rather die than crash/damage my car. I’m entered into a banger race and I have painted up my car real nice. The original colour is a burnt orange and I’ve spent lots of time perfecting the type on the surface of the car.
When the race starts I manage to swerve lots of hits but eventually the damage is inevitable. Every time I know I’m going to take a hit I emerge out of the car like the genie in Aladdin to protect it from damage, however I get smashed into smithereens and die, the car lives.

Do you think about crashing a lot? I know you drive loads has this dream become something that circles about in your head?

I don’t tend to think about crashing a lot but I guess I see a lot of crashes. These days I drive about a lot for work - around 40,000 miles a year. So I spend lots of time sat in traffic jams smoking and playing through different scenarios.
Over the years I’ve had lots of different cars - I've crashed a few times in my teens messing about. We would go and hang out at the local cruise in a McDonalds car park. The funniest thing I have seen was a guy doing do-nuts in his 80s BMW 520i - the same model Cain Dingle used to drive. The back wheel came off and flew straight across the carpark into loads of bushes. The guy got out and cried. I found cruises fascinating, I appreciated looking at all the modifications especially the extremes, and thinking, why the hell would you do that?

I remember once seeing you do a presentation on memory jugs and thinking that 'fandom' comes up a lot in your work, a constant appreciation of a niche thing. But it's not contrived, you genuinely find a lot of energy in these scenes or objects?

Ironic because my memory is totally shit!
I saw an episode of American Pickers a few years ago which featured a memory jug and was into every single item stuck to it. The person had collected all of these bits and pieces, just tat, badges, keys, bottle tops, cracker gifts etc., but the object was beautiful and reflected that persons situation in that time in their life - the jug was modified in the 70s so it was full of loads of hippy shit. I’ve always had a gratefulness of what some people would define as junk - what's that naf phrase? "One man's junk is another man's treasure" (or woman's). Also there is a strong family connection, both my Mum and my Nan sold antiques. In a way I am attracted to why people are interested in things, and fandom is definitely a part of this, I think this links back to why I adored the modifications at Cruises too.
I take lots of photographs which really inform the work, I am into weird stuff/signs/home made stuff and I’m interested in how people choose to present stuff, how they show appreciation for stuff especially through advertising. But not corporate advertising - local businesses or markets. Spaces you can tell people really understand the objects they are selling and appreciate them. I think there is definitely crossover between the work I do in retail and my research interests, which is lucky because I have to go to work. I’m really into signs and handwriting in general - I am actually doing a traditional signwriting course in an old fairground next week.

Could you talk about your materials a bit more?

I feel like you have a very specific relationship to the heritage materials. It's about the story of a certain paint or surface as well as its function, I suppose?
Lightboxes and signage have featured heavily in my past work - definitely linked to and influenced from my job as most of them are recycled from old shopfits and re-appropriated. The Cindy flag (in the show) has been made by a skilled metal worker and powder coated to a high shine in an industrial paint shop. The paint shop were hesitant for the Miami purple - ‘we only do industrial colours’ and they asked ‘can it not be yellow?’. I like using the right thing for the right purpose, so if I am making a sign I want to make it in the correct way, not with a work around.

Who's Cindy?

Cindy is my old car and subject of the recurring dream, She still lives on in the care of my brother although her engine has now exploded. She’s a 1982 mk1 Vauxhall Astra who had one previous owner from new.
If you knew me between the time of 2008-2013 you would have definitely had the pleasure of a push start or witnessed the hot wiring.

Sam and Lilly are studio pals based in Glasgow.