Chris Paul Daniels is an artist and filmmaker. In 2010, he won the Deutsche Bank for Art for his collaborative project Unravel – the longest hand painted film in Britain. This project led to over 100 public events at arts organisations and festivals across the UK, including Tate Britain, BFI Southbank and Abandon Normal Devices, alongside installations at IKON Gallery, Chisenhale Gallery, and the National Media Museum.
Chris has performed live visuals with classically trained musicians across the world, and collaborated on a major commission for Virgin Records on their 40th Anniversary exhibition.
In 2013, supported by Gasworks Gallery and Triangle Network, he undertook a fellowship to Nairobi where he produced the film, Premier/Divisions, which screened at Cornerhouse in July that year.
His audio guide will feature in Safe, the third exhibition in our opening programme.
Q & A
What’s your earliest memory of participating in the arts?
My parents met in a community play in Rotherham, where I’m from, so I grew up around local theatre. My Dad’s claim to fame is that he gave Sean Bean his first acting role after college in a small production of Cabaret, so I always found the arts appealing, or at least accessible, which is a very valuable thing to learn.
A very memorable event occurred when I was one of the kids who got traumatised watching the BBC’s notorious hoax broadcast of Ghostwatch in 1992. It devastated me at the time, but also exposed me to the power that television and film had in manipulating the viewer. It’s left me with an interest in anything vaguely self-reflexive, ever since.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
I’m still good friends with a lot of my old tutors and teachers. My degree tutors run the Leeds gallery &model, and my MA tutors from the Royal College of Art included Russell Mills, Nicky Hamlyn and Al Rees. Al recently passed away and it was a real honour to know him. His book A History of Experimental Film and Video was the only reason I wanted to study at the RCA. Going there taught me the biggest life lesson I’ve learnt: Aim for the things you never thought you were entitled to, as you might just get them.
Which cultural figure would you most like to buy a pie and a pint?
David Lynch would be great but he’s busy making another series of Twin Peaks, and Pier Paolo Pasolini is dead so it would have to be my favourite artist filmmaker, John Smith. I have met him briefly a couple of times, but in 2013 I was at The Art Party in Scarborough where he was a speaker, and I drunkenly told him how much I liked his work, many, many times. I undertook a residency in Newcastle last year at The Newbridge Project and a few artists told me they’d done exactly the same thing, so I don’t feel too bad.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
There’s so many historical wrongs to right that I’d like to think I’d be the bloke from Quantum Leap, or maybe I’d be selfish, do a Back to the Future II and bet on fixed results of old sporting events before returning to 2015 as a millionaire! But to be honest, I’m a big fan of trying to make the most of the present, and I’ve always felt incredibly fortunate to be in a time and place where I can live my life without pandering to an oppressive set of social beliefs, which is what most of the past looks like to me.