Art

Martin Creed: The double-edge sword of 'switching off'

Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed on why he left his dream getaway to find escape at home, lying face down on the floor…

Martin Creed

I feel like I learn a lot from my dog. I often go for a walk with my partner and Jimmy the dog in Dulwich Park, which is this big, beautiful park. When you see a dog run and run in a big open space, you see the joy of life. And that is infectious. I envy him what seems like a real pure joy. When I aim for that I always spoil it by having thoughts.

When you see a dog run and run in a big open space, you see the joy of life

But when it comes to getting away, to me, rather than a geographical place, it is about a place at home. I actually prefer just lying face down on the floor with my eyes closed, or lying down underneath some furniture. That seems the best way to get away from everything. It’s about trying to minimise your movements. It is probably the type of thing people who meditate might talk about.

Luckily I have a little place where I live. That is my own little hovel. It is my place of safety. But I also worry about my inclination to want to stay in where I am king of my castle. Everyone should have a place to feel safe, but that road can lead to stultification. I feel a battle between my fear of being out of control and the fear that by trying to control things, one can kill them. I have to control my need to be in control.

All those thoughts come to mind when thinking about a place to get away and switch off. I feel like I try to do that quite a lot, but it is a double-edged sword. You could end up saying no to life – because life has everything in it, including mobile phones.

I have to control my need to be in control

I spent four years living in Alicudi, a remote Sicilian island with about 100 inhabitants. That was an extreme form of trying to get away. So I tried finding a remote place, but it felt like a dead end. I missed the hustle and bustle of people.

If I had to choose between city and country, I would choose the city every time because of all the people and the crazy mess. I feel like maybe it is actually good not to escape. Lying down face down on the floor at home – that is my way to get away…

Martin Creed’s Words and Music, Edinburgh International Festival, August 4-27

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'Each brush tells a story of hope': Homeless artist hosts exhibition to help himself off the streets
homeless artist David Bedford
Homelessness

'Each brush tells a story of hope': Homeless artist hosts exhibition to help himself off the streets

Those wounded by the Troubles still walk among us. Their pain is as relevant today as ever
Art

Those wounded by the Troubles still walk among us. Their pain is as relevant today as ever

Artist Aasen Stephenson turns leaves into astounding works of art: 'Nothing beats what nature makes'
The Leaf Man at work in his studio
Art

Artist Aasen Stephenson turns leaves into astounding works of art: 'Nothing beats what nature makes'

Artist Ray Young: 'Our government is threatening disabled people's rights – there's no compassion'
Theatre

Artist Ray Young: 'Our government is threatening disabled people's rights – there's no compassion'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know