Interview With The Soft City
“The architecture of Waterloo’s Lower Marsh looks like a shelf of books with its various sights and sizes – it’s stunning,” says The Soft City, AKA artist Daniel Speight.
The sights have inspired Daniel to screen print images of Lower Marsh buildings on the pages of old books to recreate the area’s skyline. Twelve works in total are now on display at Café del Marsh until 1 September.
Daniel worked with traditional mediums, including printmaking, graphic design and fine art, while studying at the University of Wales and completing a MA at London’s Camberwell college, using the name The Soft City – taken from Jonathan Raban’s novel of the same name – as a way of focusing on his city experiences.
Since graduating, he has worked as a designer before applying these design skills to fine art practice.
“Everyone prints on paper so I wanted to challenge myself by printing on old, unwanted items, such as bits of old skirting, metal goods, table tops and glass,” Daniel says.
“I’m excited to now print on old books, combining them with my London obsession: London is incredibly diverse and Lower Marsh is perfect for this project because it’s a microcosm of the city – an oasis in a busy area.”
Daniel admits that although east London is considered by some to be the cultural centre of the capital, many have a quiet respect for art produced in south London, which is a sentiment he hopes to reinforce in his book block work.
“Waterloo has a strong identity in an incredibly diverse city. I frequently visit the graffiti tunnels but I’m also interested in the wider art scene. It’s such a promising place and I want to keep this thought going.”
Café del Marsh offers a relaxed environment for people to experience Daniel’s work. “I’ve always wanted to show work that can sit with you, rather than be presented to you to look at for two minutes before moving on.
“In a café, you can contemplate work at your own pace. This work is unpretentious, so it works with Lower Marsh – it’s accessible,” Daniel says.
The exhibition marks the start of more book projects by the artist. Speight explains: “I want to build my own soft, working city out of books, with little people and a model railway. I also make bespoke pieces for those who want particular designs.”
You can see more details about the exhibition here, and some images of the work sit below.
**Belinda Seppings is a contributor at The Art Newspaper.