Danny Sangra’s Psychic Hotline
Whilst most of us might have been busy fretting over those all-important New Year’s Resolutions, artist and filmmaker Danny Sangra was busy making predictions of a different kind. Taking over Browns East’s gallery space, the artist has decorated the walls with a series of witty and absurdist hot takes, otherwise known as his “Psychic Hotline” - predictions for 2022 which include everything from “X-Ray selfies will be a thing” to “blue ice lollies will be banned in France”. Below, we learn more about what makes Sangra’s creative mind tick.
Danny with his work in the Browns East gallery space.
Hello Danny! Please tell us about the work you created for Browns East. What’s the story behind “Psychic Hotline”?
I was hanging out with Mystic Meg and she told me to visit the pool of wisdom located on a mountain top somewhere near the Lake District. After three months of searching, I couldn’t find it, so I decided to paint a series of stream of consciousness objects and base my predictions on them. Much like reading tea leaves, that kind of thing.
Are you a mystical person? What’s your star sign?
I’m a Libra. Some would say ‘Scorpio cusp’ as my birthday falls on the final day of Libra. However, I don’t believe there are only 12 personalities in the entire universe. I see it as a bit of fun. I would say I might be more spiritual than mystical.
Which is your favourite prediction you created and why?
”Animals will begin to use our old phones.” I like the idea of seeing the neighbour’s cat rocking a Motorola StarTAC, not knowing how to use it and just trying to look cool.
How did you get to where you are now?
I started drawing on the hair magazines in my mum's hair salon when I was eight years old. From that point I’d draw and create whatever I could with whatever I had. I did my art foundation in my hometown, Leeds, then came to London to study graphic design at CSM. All sounds routine I guess. What I will say is that along the way I constantly worked on my own things. I had projects in Japan whilst in college; I had exhibitions in the retail stores I worked in when I left college; I directed films for friends’ fashion brands. I made use of every situation I found myself in.
Your work often has a humorous, slightly absurdist quality. Where does that come from?
I think it’s a very British thing. I’m also Northern and I grew up around a lot of great storytellers. The best people were always funny, and I find I can connect better through humour. The absurdist side comes from the heavy influence of Reeves and Mortimer, Peter Cook and Monty Python. I prefer things to seem serious until closer inspection. Not everyone gets it, and I like it like that.
Which artists do you admire and why?
I probably admire personalities more than art. It’s the approach to creativity I respect. I rarely look at the work anymore. I find people who create in spite of restrictions, in spite of wealth or lack of wealth. I may not like their artwork but the ability to create something from nothing has to be admired.
Can you tell us about your relationship with East London?
I’ve been knocking around the area for about 22 years so I’ve seen plenty of changes. I’ve been pushed in and out of areas. I have a multitude of memories here and because of this, I’ll always be connected to it.
Where do you go for a good idea?
I make notes all the time. I like to spend a long time doing nothing - just taking things in until they can no longer be contained. I get more from reading as most of my work is actually writing. As I have multiple careers, when I direct, all I want to do is paint and have the freedom. When I paint, all I want to do is write. When I write, I want to bring the ideas to life. So when I say ‘doing nothing’ it’s not that I’m doing nothing. I’m still working, but I’m also thinking of the thing I’m not doing.
Have you got any New Year’s Resolutions?
I never make resolutions at New Years.
What’s your mantra for 2022?
“I don’t work this hard to work with people I don’t like.” I stole it from Nas and I say it in a deep sound so it reverberates around my body.
Danny's work will be on display in Browns East's gallery space from 23rd December 2021 - 30th June 2022.
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