Back to index of Nerve 14 - Summer 2009

Paul Rooney directing filmingDouble triumph for Rooney

By Colin Serjent

Idiosyncratic Liverpool-based artist Paul Rooney - who works with film, video, sound, painting, music, writing and performance - won a second major art award of his career after receiving the Northern Art Prize earlier this year.

He collected £16,000, after picking up £10,000 for winning the Comme Ca 'Art Prize North' in 2003.

The Northern Art Prize panel, after viewing the two films he submitted, stated that "Rooney's inventive, energetic and eclectic work stood out. His work proved to be a fresh, original voice in today's Northern art scene."

The first, 'Le Décision Doypack', relates to the student uprising in Paris in 1968.

"Loughborough University were doing a project about the 40th anniversary of 1968 last year and I was commissioned by them - with an open brief - to do a film on the theme," said Rooney.

It animates an Australian food packaging company manager undertaking a trip to Paris at that time.

Although only twenty seven minutes long, it took him almost a year to put together, although the filming took just two days to complete.

When asked why he submitted a second film, titled 'Lost High Street', when only required to submit one, Rooney stated that "I could have just shown this main piece, but because there is a lot of space in Leeds Art Gallery, it made sense to show two pieces. They also had a relationship between them - they were made at the same time.

"It is basically a sort of tourist video of a guy going round and round Edinburgh," he added. "It is not stated that it is Edinburgh but it is obvious where the location is. He talks about some of the landmarks and some of the things he is told by the tour guide."

Rooney has a particular fondness for the Scottish capital, having lived and studied there for seven years.

"One of the reasons I wanted to do something about Edinburgh was that it felt like home to me when I lived there.

"But now after such a long time away from there, I feel like a tourist again - the film is partly a comment on that."

Future plans for Rooney - an avid book reader - include writing a short story based on vampires with the collaboration of photographer John Holden, who has taken a lot of images of Transylvania.

He is also working on a film for an autumn exhibition at the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool related to the 100th anniversary of the birth of novelist and poet Malcolm Lowry.

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