Photography / Editorial / Print

As featured in unfolded Magazine Issue 11

London based stencil artist, Penny, has been working with stencils for around 11 years and his high detailed works, requiring hours of patience and a steady hand have become sought after works. Penny is interested in paradigms of beauty through time, from the Renaissance and mid-18th century inspired work to Hollywood movie iconography and modern day representations of women. He tells us he has studied art at college, graduated from CSM with a specialism in graphic art and coming from a street background, he wanted to bring that inside and into a space, telling us he "Painted on money as it had the same sort of naughty feel to it, which I like to call,” with a somewhat cheeky grin,

“Graffiti For Your Wallet"

A lot of his more modern pieces features women as mutants he tells us and the quirky pop up shop at Moniker Art Fair had a penny machine installed into the interior facade. Trying our hand at winning some coins, we learn that this whole theme of money "started from my use of penny coins as anchors to hold down my paper, when I was spraying paint." We see dollar bills and more older and exotic bank notes used in his work, "Different money lends itself to different themes and imagery" and in doing so, creates a whole new story.

A love of the periods of the 1940s and 1950s is evident and although many Hollywood celebrities from that era are featured, he tells us that "Women did not have to weigh 90 pounds to be considered beautiful" and the "men had a sophistication and gentlemanly attitude that is at odds with how celebrities are viewed and portrayed in today's culture."

The penny machine may indeed be a homage or nod to where it all started, "I loved these penny machines from my youth, the seaside and so on and thought it would be fun to incorporate this. The works in the display are not really serious, lowest common denominator art meets lowest common denominator money. We had this at my solo show at Rook and Raven in May and we had to take the alarm out as it was getting knocked about and bumped by people trying to get the coins to fall."

The processes involved in making the works are complicated, with some using a variety of layers to create the desired effect. In one piece, there were several layers of paper, cotton modelling, foam and paint on the inside of glass atop a taxidermy butterfly. A striking piece which symbolises metamorphosis and the image, to us, an unfurling beauty masked behind a butterfly. His real love is for bank-notes however and he revels in the time-consuming challenges faced in making currency into innovative works of art.

Penny has had sell out shows in London, Amsterdam and Berlin and tells us he is excited about working with Bill Wyman for the Rolling Stones 50th anniversary using some £50 notes off course and some butterfly pieces. He is also planning a big show towards the end of next year.

Interview and Portrait: Nardip Singh / Images of works supplied by Rook and Raven,
Copyright © Penny
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