It’s always such a long windy road coming up with new ideas for artworks that are worth bothering with. Part of the reason, which hardly gets spoken about nor understood, is that I’m an artist and I made the decision early on in my career to try and make publicly funded art. It’s all good when its works out, but its very hard work to keep shovelling ideas through the pipeline so as to earn anything like a living.
This show started because I absolutely love the Olympics. I love big bonanza public occasions – especially watching them on TV. I’ve always fantasised about making epic events in absurdly epic surroundings. I love all the weird fanfares, pomposity, hype and strutting about of nations.
But I also love the events themselves – watching competitive sports is a marvellous thing (excluding football which only works in real life for me due to the testosterone levels of TV reporters). It’s as good as Scott and Bailey really. So when Britain won the bid in July 2005 I thought – there will be cash for the art surrounding that. Could keep me going a bit, I thought.
But at the back of it all was a set of ideas I’d been mulling over for a while. I wanted to set up a proper touring ‘gym’ and ‘kitchen’ and sort of do all kinds of odd demonstrations on the equipment of ‘how to be well’, ‘how to recover’ – defying what the experts tell people like me to do all the time. The best idea was having loads of people wearing T-shirts with I’M MAD ABOUT GYM on them.
We had to go for R&D grant first which involved cooking up the idea of doing a residency with long-term partners Dan Hinchcliffe and Tanya Steinhauser at ICIA.