Meet Times New Roadman
"Is it art, is it memes?"
Meet Times, aka Niall Gallagher, the Bournemouth-based artist behind Times New Roadman's laugh-out-loud paintings inspired by cultural phenomena - who has been totally anonymous… until now. “About a month or so ago someone on an Instagram burner account started trying to troll me, they thought it was pretty funny that they weren’t showing their face or putting a name to what they were saying. Then I realised that was literally what I do. It made me think I should show my face, as unspectacular as it is.”
From a cult Insta following to his first public exhibition - now you can see Times’ wry humour up close at The Gallery in Browns East, hosted in partnership with Electric Gallery. Named 'Once Upon A Times In East', the exhibition is a myriad of different themes of his work and a dedication to the epicentre for anything cool over the past several years, Shoreditch. As well as giving an exclusive preview of new work which allows viewers to stare at their insecurities – or simply place themselves inside the artist’s own.
We caught up with Times before his debut at Browns to get better acquainted with the man behind the meme-art…
Where does the name Times New Roadman come from?
It actually arose from a house party at the end of university. Me and my mate were trying to come up with the worst band names we could think of and it’s just always stuck.
How would you describe your work?
I actually struggle to articulate it - people either love it or hate it. It’s a bit chaotic and all over the place, like me.
What is your earliest memory of making art?
The earliest would be brass rubbing in year one, but then the first of my own volition was in halls at university. Every single room had the exact same dull layout so, in an attempt to brighten mine up, I bought some canvases and started putting bits on them.
What kind of imagery are you drawn to?
I always gravitate towards silly things. All the art I like, I’m not talented enough to make.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
At one stage I wanted to be a geography teacher, but when I first started looking at universities I wanted to do screenwriting – I would honestly be so bad at that so probably one of my wiser decisions to ditch that.
Where did the original idea behind 'Once Upon A Times In East' come from? Is there a theme that connects the pieces?
If I’m being completely honest, my knowledge of East London is a bit iffy. However not really knowing too much about a subject has never really stopped anyone from talking in the past.
I pick up bits from social media and see the classic things people do around Shoreditch. If I had a pound for every time someone uploaded an Instagram Story of them getting a beigel on Brick Lane, I could afford a pint in BOXPARK.
The originals are all a celebration of those things - almost like an outsider’s two cents.
We’ve heard you create all your work from your spare room - where is this based and what’s your creative space like?
In short, it’s a complete mess. It’s the spare room where I live, just outside Bournemouth.
Can you talk us through your creative process? What inspires you?
I think ‘creative process’ is a slightly grandiose term for just typing stuff in my Notes app. Generally, if I hear or experience something annoying or irritating, I stick it there.
What's your favourite piece of work to date?
The last time I answered this it was one I did for my mate about our local curry house that used to serve us underage. I did a penguin classic for myself of ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ by LCD Soundsystem so that’s probably my current favourite.
I am a bit fickle with my favourites though, so probably in a month I will have a new one.
What was the last piece of art you bought, or ogled?
The last piece I bought was a print by Jeremy Jones. I was intending to buy this Corbin Shaw screenprint the other day, but I forgot and they all sold out. Probably should have set an alarm or something.
Is there someone you look up to?
My absolute idol is Eddie Argos - he was the frontman for a band called Art Brut, this ironic punk band that just did hilarious songs. I read his book and it has been the only book to make me actually laugh out loud. The bloke’s just wildly funny and clever.
Do you have any unusual habits or rituals?
I have a small model of Henrik Larsson in a Celtic shirt on my dashboard and every time I get in my car to drive I rub his head for good luck.
If you made an artwork about yourself, what would it say?
Actually a load of the artworks are about me, they started off exclusively just being about me. Instead of punching upwards/downwards, I’m basically punching inwards at my own nose.
When you’re not working, what do you do for fun?
I love going out for a BYOB curry night. Me and my mates go out for them quite a lot, it’s our thing. Prawn vindaloo and chicken pakora every time.
Back in lockdown I got really into baking, so I do really like making bread now. I make a very decent focaccia.
If you could ask anyone a question, who would you ask, and what?
There is a Persian restaurant I love and I’ve always wanted to know how they make their hummus so smooth. I can’t get anywhere near the taste whenever I’ve made it, so I would love to know their secret.
Who makes you laugh?
I’m quite fortunate where all my mates - from home, uni and cricket - are all actually much funnier than me, so they probably make me laugh the most.
Describe yourself in three words:
Awkward and underwhelming.
What’s the most surprising thing we’d find out if we looked at your phone?
I’m awful at responding to messages. Normally I read them, think about a reply and just decide I’ll do it later. Later turns out to be a week. That, or how awful my taste in music is.
What's your greatest ambition?
It will never happen, but I would love something of mine to be hung in the Pompidou. I’ve always wanted to direct a film. Also highly unlikely but you never know.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
I haven’t really figured it out yet.
What does it mean to you to have your artwork on display at Browns East?
Slightly overwhelming. Being in a shop far too trendy for me - I wear corduroy trousers nine months of the year (not even a joke) – is a weird validating feeling. Maybe, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I am cool…?
Come and have a laugh with 'Once Upon A Times In East' By Times New Roadman in The Gallery at Browns East. The exhibition holds 10 original artworks and 20 hand-finished prints. Starting from £425, all pieces are available to buy in store, so please ask a member of staff for more details.
Interview by Sophy Davis Russell
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