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Russell Mills: Paintings In Sound

By Published: November 3, 2005
RM: Visual artists that inspire me are many and varied. What bonds them all is their absolute commitment and their strong sense of moral responsibility which they address in their work. These are some that I admire immensely—Anselm Kiefer, Antoni Tapies, Olafur Eliasson, Cornelia Parker, Bruce Nauman and Brian Catling. There are also many writers, novelists, poets and theorists who I consider to be artists and who inspire me greatly. These include John Berger, Susan Sontag, Robert Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Robin Robertson, Anne Michaels, WG Sebald, Gaston Bachelard, E Annie Proulx, Jeanette Winterson, Samuel Beckett, Ted Hughes, TS Eliot, Osip Mandelstam, Tony Harrison, Zbigniew Herbert, Paul Celan and Czeslaw Milosz, amongst many others.

AAJ: What other interests do you have outside of art and music that soothe your soul?

RM: Seeing sheds and reading about them turns my crank. For me the shed, particularly in the UK is a symbol of independence, individuality and innovation. Smoking Gitanes filtered cigarettes. Evenings in my local pub are a leveling experience where I enjoy mixing with a diverse group of people of all ages, genders, backgrounds and occupations. In such convivial and generally relaxed surroundings everyone is obliged to find a common language and the conversations are always lively and genial.

The pub is a very democratic institution. Rydal, just outside Ambleside, is where I live and it is paramount in my life. The road I live on is not only unbelievably beautiful but is remarkably rich in cultural history. The houses along its winding course, which accompanies the Rothay River from Rydal Water to Lake Windermere, have been occupied by some of the most influential and radical writers and thinkers that England has produced. Former occupants include Thomas De Quincey, Thomas and Matthew Arnold, the US President Woodrow Wilson and William Wordsworth's agent.

The house I live in was Wordsworth's favourite daughter Dora's home and it was visited by Charlotte Bronte; a later occupant also entertained General Montgomery here. Kurt Schwitters, Tennyson, Coleridge, Keats and Wordsworth all walked along this route between Grasmere and Ambleside. Walking with my two dogs anywhere around here, by the River Rothay, up on Loughrigg Fell or around Rydal Water, always gives me great pleasure whatever the weather. This environment and the ceaselessly changing landscape feeds me with ideas and "soothes my soul" enormously; and being in it re-charges my batteries.

Visit Russell Mills on the web.

Selected Discography

Russell Mills/Mike Fearon, Cleave/Soft Bullets (Shed Recordings, 2002)
Russell Mills/Ian Walton/Paul Farley, Republic of Thorns (Shed Recordings, 2001)
Russell Mills/Undark, Pearl+Umbra (Instinct, 1999)
Russell Mills/Undark, Strange/Famuiliar (Instinct, 1996)
Russell Mills/Ian Walton, Measured in Shadows (Shed Recordings, 1995)

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