Tim Muddiman ready to showcase art after stepping down from Gary Numan's band

"Art feels very similar to music in a creative sense, I can still flex the creative thing - it's so close to music."

Monday, 28th June 2021, 3:01 pm
Tim Muddiman.
Tim Muddiman.

According to Tim Muddiman, his move from professional touring musician to artist came at the “perfect time” in his life.

It’s three months since Muddiman stepped down as Gary Numan’s long-serving bassist, having played as part of the influential electronic musician’s band since the early 2000s.

The Northampton based artist was due to show 21 pieces at the 99 Projects gallery in London at the start of July.

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The Super Sausage, by Tim Muddiman.

Unfortunately, the exhibition was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances, but a rescheduled date is expected to be revealed soon.

In recent years, Muddiman has prioritised art, developing a distinct style of deep bold colours, hard edges and atmospheric shadows in work which depicts urban, often brutalist surroundings.

It’s a style he refers to as “hard edge contemporary abstract,”.

With a lifelong interest in art, Muddiman has been painting for the last 17 years, however, it’s only in recent years that it has come to be the dominant artform in his life.

The House That Jack Built, by Tim Muddiman.

“I’d never felt before in my life that I wanted a break from music because music lives in you,” he explains.

“I’d done a world tour with Gary and it was a massive physical challenge, it was a huge 18 month tour, something like 140 shows.

“So, I thought ‘I'm just going to spend the next year painting’ – and that was what I did in March 2018.

“The solo exhibition has come at a perfect time for my journey, my now journey as an artist.

Roadside Punctuation, by Tim Muddiman.

“I loved playing with Gary, but I didn't want to devote my life to another machine or something that wasn't what I wanted to do.

“I always wanted to be a musician but there’s other parts of the creative industry I've always been obsessed with such as art.

“Art feels very similar to music in a creative sense, I don’t have to go away and I can still flex the creative thing - it's so close to music.

“Also, it feels there are so many more benefits to painting and art that I didn't get with music.”

Roadside Punctuation, by Tim Muddiman.

With the onset of the coronavirus in 2020, Muddiman explains he also wanted to spend more time with his wife and daughters.

Committing to another tour with Numan to support his latest record Intruder would have meant months away from home, having to put painting on hold and address the hearing loss he has developed.

Muddiman is based at a studio in NN Contemporary Art and it was through its curator he was able to work with the curator of 99 Projects on his forthcoming exhibition, titled The Ones Who Slept There.

Despite only starting to paint in his 30s, Muddiman’s interest in art goes back to his childhood.

As a teenager he’d help carry the cans of a close friend, someone he describes as “one of the UK's best known graffiti writers,” on nights out and would also buy the now defunct magazine Hip Hop Connection which besides music, also covered culture associated with the genre.

“I loved street art,” he explains. “It's like everything in life isn't it, when you find something, you feel like it belongs to you if you feel like you found it on your own, and that's how graffiti art felt to me.

Tim Muddiman on stage at the Roadmender during Gary Numan's headline gig in 2019. Photo by David Jackson.

“As I got into my 20s, I became less interested in it and went down the music route.

“While I love street art, I would never want to do it - even though my jaw still hits the floor when I see it.

“I love a lot of comic book art and abstract expressionists, Picasso, Dali and Pollock but I’ve never wanted to go down someone else's path.

“At the moment I adore block chunky colours that are juxtaposed against dark colours and have impact.

“Because of this, I've ended up being quite attracted and reading a lot about brutal architecture and a lot of early 1900 Soviet artwork.

“I feel like I've found this thing I really love and it has a uniqueness to it.

“When I started to look around to see who else was doing this sort of thing, a lot of the early Soviet stuff was quite similar with the same brutal architecture.”

Pushed to conceptualise his paintings, Muddiman says: “I categorise my style as hard edge contemporary abstract art.

“I don't really want to conceptualise, I want to just go down paths but think it's only fair to do that, to explain it to people. I've got to step back to explain what I'm doing.”

Northampton landmarks feature in two pieces of art Muddiman will be exhibiting in July - The Super Sausage in St Andrew’s Road and the nearby former British Rail Sports and Social Club at Northampton Railway Station.

Talking about the latter, Muddiman said: “I’ve heard a lot of stories about that place over the years.

“When I was a teenager my dad used to tell me stuff about it and I knew people who used to hang about going there.

“I’ve travelled a lot around America and I love old 50s buildings that you see in little strange towns.

“To me they kind of represent a bit of that old Americana and suburban communities and I just married the two ideas up really and I let my imagination run wild thinking of all the things which have gone on in both places.

“They're both landmarks - they've never been celebrated but they should be, they’re both fantastically shaped buildings that you don't really see any more.

“With the railway piece, I put a silhouette of the new station in there and some more buildings that might develop around it in the future.”

In recent years, Muddiman has sold his art online, admitting he’s been lucky to build up an online following because of playing with Gary Numan, Pop Will Eat Itself and through his solo albums.

He hopes exhibitions will help to broaden his audience further.

“I still want to travel and meet different people,” he explains, “Art is a great currency for meeting people.”

When Muddiman announced his decision to step down from Gary Numan’s live band, he received hundreds of messages across social media from fans wishing him well.

He says he was incredibly touched by all the kind messages and that he put “every ounce” he had into his work for Numan.

“My job was to play bass guitar and I did it the best I possibly could and gave it 100 per cent,” he says.

“When you perform, you connect with people. Gary has such a huge loyal following and because I was part of this band I connected to those people and those messages made me realise that more than ever. I was absolutely blown away and flattered and humbled by it.”

Muddiman wrote a letter to Numan explaining his intentions to step down, saying he just explained matters in “black and white”.

“He said he was sad to read it and that I’d be missed,” he explains.

“Gary and his family are good friends, but he said he couldn't argue with me.

“The band is Gary’s thing, he's been a solo artist since he stopped Tubeway Army in the 70s.

“I've always known and respected that.

“I’ve got an 18 month old daughter, a wife, a 16 year old daughter and my art career and I can't turn my back on them.”

Reflecting on some of his favourite memories of touring with Numan, Muddiman cites Sonisphere, the first time he played on Top Of The Pops and a gig at the Roundhouse in London as ‘stand out moments’.

“In 2003 I got a call one night, I'd only met Gary a couple of times and they said ‘What are you doing – can you do Top Of The Pops tomorrow.’

“Everyone’s auntie or uncle would always ask if you were going to be on Top Of The Pops and I was.

“The first time we did Sonisphere (2010), that was special,” he says. “When I played guitar and was playing Cars and seeing about tens of thousands of people going for it - it was just mad.

“I’ll also never forget a Roundhouse gig we did in 2013.

We've done some great gigs together, but I've never felt one like that, it’s like we were all liquid, all part of the same thing, we were 'in' the music.

“There was just something about that gig I'll remember that all my life.”

Since prioritising painting, Muddiman admits he hasn’t played guitar “properly” for more than two years.

However, he admits when the time is right, he will again.

“I’ve been waiting to feel sad but I've felt nothing but happiness,” he explains.

“That gives me reason to think I've made the right decision and I'll continue doing this, but it's only a matter of time till I start another band.

“I love rockabilly and that's probably what I'd want to do.

“When the time is right, if I could find a double bass player and just do some real lo-fi stuff just for the love of it, that’d be great.”

When asked what future he sees for himself as an artist, Muddiman replies: “I’m a firm believer if you aim for something and put a lot of energy in, things pop up, you attract things.

“I’m hoping in six months time there will be other opportunities and other avenues to explore.

“I’d like to do two exhibitions a year and I want to spend longer on the pieces, I want to do more intricate paintings in my style - that's how I see the future.”

Muddiman is due to announce a new date for The Ones Who Slept There exhibition as soon as possible.

For more information, visit https://www.timmuddiman.com

Quadrant Hall, by Tim Muddiman.