A Turkish adventure in the world of Jim Moir

As his ten-day exhibition, A Mountain of Turkish Delight, begins today (May 10) at The Biscuit Factory, artist Jim Moir speaks to Steven Hugill about his passion for the creative and the pride he feels at showcasing his work for the first time in his native North East

As the gregarious Vic Reeves, Jim Moir has enthralled many a full room with his anarchic antics alongside comedic partner Bob Mortimer.

But strip away his stage nom de plume and Moir the man comes to the fore.

Just like his alias, he too can draw a crowd – in more ways than one.

An esteemed artist, Jim has drawn and painted from his days as a youngster growing up in Darlington, where his father worked for The Northern Echo newspaper.

His art provides a peephole into a mind of whirring effervescence and eccentricity that juxtaposes the surreal with the ordinary, the bizarre with the mundane.

For the next ten days, fans of his – and art in general – have the opportunity to experience his colourful creations first-hand.

An exhibition of his work, titled A Mountain of Turkish Delight, is now on show at Newcastle’s Biscuit Factory, the UK’s largest independent commercial art, craft and design gallery.

His first-ever art exhibition in Newcastle, and the North East, it features more than 70 original drawings and paintings, including some familiar faces and landmarks.

“I’ve done a lot of shows in London but it’s fantastic to be in Newcastle because this is kind of where it all started,” says Jim, who, as Vic Reeves, is perhaps best known for co-presenting riotous BBC panel show Shooting Stars.

“Someone asked me if I had a title for this exhibition, but I didn’t,” he smiles.

“So I looked on the notes on my phone and that was the first thing that came up. It relates to an idea for a painting I had,” reveals Jim, as chunks of the confectionary treat are offered around atop a silver tray.

His work is fluid – he talks of waking at 5am with an idea he must commit to paper – and he is liberal in his use of celebrities, in various poses and situations, as subjects.

Jim – full name James Roderick Moir – is quick to point out, however, that it doesn’t conform to a particular style. There isn’t an easy label to tag his canvasses and sketches.

What his work does demonstrate though, is a clear love of art and an understanding of its effect on the human psyche, which was initially crafted when Jim studied at Sir Cass College, in Whitechapel, in the mid-1980s.

Walking the exhibition with Jim, wearing a linen suit and black trainers, this comes to the fore.

He speaks at length on the importance of shadow and light, highlighting a chair in an image of a muscle-bound Sylvester Stallone riding a rather lean horse.

In another, he speaks of Googling the most searched for images in art and describes melding them together to produce a colourful creation that includes, among other things, a nod to Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, musician David Bowie, a Corvette and a nude.

So how does he feel about bringing his unique collection to his North-East heartland?

“You can get a little laissez-faire about things,” muses Jim.

“But if I could go back to when I was 15 or 16, when I was sitting in my bedroom doing my drawings and paintings, and think I would be doing a show here in the North-East, it’s fantastic.”

Judging by the crowd that attended a preview night for the show, it seems fair to say it will be a popular homecoming.

A Mountain of Turkish Delight runs from Friday, May 10 until Monday, May 27 at The Biscuit Factory, based on Stoddart Street, in Newcastle’s Ouseburn – admission is free.

For more information about the exhibition, visit www.thebiscuitfactory.com.

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