City LIfe magazine interview
with Tim Birch 2003
Darren Marsh City Life Interview

'bashful painter who prefers to give an eyeful than an earful'


Who? A graphic designer by trade who, incredulous at his client's inane requests, has ditched pixel for pigment and is now hell-bent on heavenly creations.

We say: Marsh makes paintings that juxtapose a loose, punky sensibility with a neat and tidy presentation. Their worked nebulous surfaces interest the eye and 'they just work'. Yes, that's an abstract phrase alluding to 'some kind of special something' but then it's nonsensical to trade in concrete terms when dealing (as Marsh does) with abstractions like 'emotion'.

He says: "I guess you could put me in a class of abstract expressionism: painting feelings through a process. The repeated application and removal of pigment and other materials imitates nature's eternal cycles of growth and decay, cycles that dictate the nature of existence and the only constant in life: change."

CV: Born and bred in Manchester, Marsh's undulating journey mirrors a well-trodden story-line - rise and fall and rise again. Left school with one 'O' Level - in art. Then graduated in graphic design from Salford. "A good course," Darren explains, "that taught us to question all." Set up his own business with two partners. Did well. Fell out. Drifted to North Wales. Soul-searching led to an art therapy course: a foundation "which taught the basics of mark-making, colour therapy, that kind of thing." Worked in an art gallery. Kept painting. Had exhibitions. Moved back to Manchester. Voila

To clarify then, it's the human element, emotion, that makes you paint?
"Right - plus that impulse to create."

Art's not all about dosh then?
"No. I give some work away - to people who appreciate what they have. I'd rather it go to a home where it was appreciated than someone going 'ah, it matches the colour of my couch."

So abstract painting is for life and not just for Christmas?
"I'm just happy doing what I'm doing. The buzz you get when you finish a painting... nothing compares. But it's not the be all and end all."

How would you summarise art today?
"The thing with art today is to push in there and get your name about, get as much publicity as you can. It's that marketing beast."

Tim Birch
© 2003 City Life Magazine; Issue 509