Interviewed by Lucy A.Edwards on behalf of The Moniker Foundation
Ed, Jo - welcome! Nice to be chatting to you both, especially as you're a rather special pair of siblings who BOTH paint - let's start there, at the beginning - when did you each realise you were creative?
J - Creative thinking was encouraged a lot when we were kids. Mum saved up for us to go to the theatre and exhibitions when ever we could. She was a great story teller, used to be a puppeteer. The house was stuffed with weird picture books bought second hand off the library and we had a massive craft cupboard. E - This was north Nottingham 1980s. The place was a wreck, Dad was working as an art therapist mostly dealing with depressed ex-miners. It was lots of theatre, psychology and art. Since we had some of dads old paintings up about the house, it never seemed strange that people would make paintings. Our aunt was a full time artist too. Still is. I guess it all seemed quite natural. J- You’re making it sound like we grew up in the Great Depression again. I mean, you ARE old but still... E - Less of that.
Jo and Ed painting a mural together in Hackney, London
How do you think your processes and styles have evolved? And how have you guys each done this?
J- I studied fine art in Liverpool, back there now actually. So, YBA’s and all that, the work had a heavy conceptual underpinning. Mostly installations. But it never felt right. After Uni, I focused on screen printing and the early modernist design aesthetic. Collaging 50’s ephemera, layering colour and form. This seemed to mix easily with botanical illustration. This became the foundation of my mural-ing style. E - Well, let's see. I used to make creepy eastern European style model animation. Did lots of bad music. Then graffiti characters with 54 crew, then did all manner of commercial art practices too varied to bullet point. It's only in the last 5 years or so Ive settled down to what I think I need to say. Tending to react AGAINST the scene, and now in the midst of Londons vapid pop cliche of STREET ART, I'm focusing on the grander narrative of the sublime landscape and mid gothic Romanticism.
You are both successful solo artists in your own right, but tell us about some projects you have collaborated on together and how is it to paint alongside your sibling? Your Mum must be so proud!
E - When we work together it's always an easy day.
J - For you.
E - Well, yes, YOU do all the pre-job stuff but,
J - But?
E - Well, once we are on site its ace right?
J - Yeah ok.
E - … Yes mum is very proud.
J - Ed has 400 years of mural painting experience so he’s pretty good once you get him to the wall.
E - I'm not that old
J - You are at least 400.
E - … Next question
Ed, how would you describe your sister's artistic style? E - Actually, I DID write your tag line, what was it? J - ‘LEFT FIELD TUTI-FRUITY AND POP BOTANICALS E - there you go.
Interior Panels Installation, Jo Hicks
Who's your artistic inspiration or muse?
E - The Brothers Quay. Really, everything originates with them. A pair of very odd identical twin film makers. They are everything to me. Them and Tom Waits.
J - I’m WAY too much of a magpie to put faith in singular muses. I collage, and the nature of collage is more instinctive in its use of the archival.
You get inspiration everywhere.
Jo, describe your brother in three words
J - RUM AND RAISON.
E - Is that really all I get.
J - RUM AND RAISON.
E - Nothing about gothic drama or … like,
J - RUM AND RAISON.
E - Tuti-Fruity and Rum&Raison. Well, there you go.
Do you think your painting/drawing/creative styles have any similarities? Or are they completely different?
J - We seem pretty concerned with nature? Eds dark woods and Im all tropic summers. He does the scenic and I do the diagrammatic. So in that way it's a matter of density.
E - True, you’re more zoomed in and I'm more panoramic. The microscope and the telescope. Chalk and cheese really. If .. chalk was also a kind of cheese. A sentient, bipedal and fully conscious cheese … that also made … art.
J - Are you leaving that bit in the interview?
E - Not sure. Probably. I mean, I’ll send it to them. In the end it's up to them how much they want to edit out the interview…. Probably looking for something a bit more snappy and less rambling. This response alone has probably gone on way too long already.
J - Yeah probably.
E - Well, so it goes.
Tell us about your favourite mural project you've personally worked on to date:
E - I recently painted the Shoreditch art wall. It was the first time I really captured the whole John Martin style of the sublime in all its transcendent epic-ness. You always know when you hit those landmark works. You can feel the shift and level up. It's really exciting. J - The school of Botany at Dublin Trinity College. Being invited to paint in such a historic home of botanical illustration with access to their archives as well and cutting edge research was so inspiring, By painting entire corridors I was able to turn the usually flat, singular form of the mural into an immersive experience.
Shoreditch Art Wall, London by Ed Hicks
How's the pandemic been for you both? Have you managed to still be creative or has it stuck you in a bit of a rut? J - 2020 was crazy busy for both of us and ended with London Mural festival where I designed and painted all 4 sides of a 9 story building in Brentford.
E - Is that the biggest mural in London? J - I think so, it was massive. Since then I’ve done loads of community projects, all types of stuff all over. It's been a great year, and there’s lots more in the drain pipe. E - Pipe line. J - Both. E- Hum, yeah I’ve been super busy. I wrote and recorded a radio show podcast called SURPLUS BULBS, go check that out. Made 2 zines. I painted a LOAD of graff, more than in years. Loads of jobs. It hasn’t really stopped, but then it never really does. It keeps moving, you keep dancing whether the music is playing or not. I mean, it's the only game in town. J - Thats a lot of metaphors to say the one thing. E - Look, they’ll get the point, it’ll be fine. J - If you say so, old man.
Jo Hicks for London Mural Festival
Check both artists out on Instagram:
Ed Hicks: @ed_hicks
Jo Hicks: @hixxy