EK Interview: Peter Root

Who is he?  He is Peter Root.  The first of all Peters, Peter Root was born in 12 B.C. under a waxing moon.  Peter drinks peppermint tea every day.  He claims it is what has kept him so youthful and vigorous for the past 2024 years.  His favorite time period was the Cretaceous, which he got to visit after traveling there in a time machine he built with H.G. Wells.  H.G. Wells stole the story but Peter kept the machine and travels back every now and then to breathe the highly oxygen saturated air that scientist believe to one of the causes of the evolution of megafauna.  Peter agrees.

Who are you? 

Peter Root


What were you like growing up?

Not particularly good at concentrating.


What was your favorite thing to do as a kid?

Wholesome ‘island-life’ stuff like riding my bike, jumping off rocks into the sea and building dens.


Where do you live now?  How have the different places that you have lived throughout your life affected you personally and artistically?

I’ve been cycling through Europe and the Balkans for the last six months with my girlfriend. We’re cycling around the World. We reached Istanbul about a month ago where we’re living and also working on an exhibition that opens in March.  It would be difficult not to be influenced by the places you live. I grew up in Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel. Landscape and location is a constant theme within my work. During my first few visits to the English ‘Mainland’, I remember feeling both impressed and intimidated by the density and scale of its cities and how they seemed themselves like isolated urban-islands surrounded by oceans of countryside.


When did you decide that you wanted to create installation art?  What has your journey been like achieving that goal?

I enjoy the immersive challenge involved in the creation of installation art: creating one-off works that incorporate and acknowledge their surroundings. My journey is quite conventional in that I completed a Fine Art Degree at University College Falmouth. After graduating I spent time in India creating work as part of a residency in Kerala. The last few years have been a mixture of studio based work and site-specific installations in various exhibitions.


What is your favorite piece and why?

At the moment I’m looking forward to working on a much larger incarnation of Wasteland, an installation created using potatoes. I’m also developing sound-reactive drawings in conjunction with Mary Thompson (www.marythompson.co.uk). I enjoy working on time intensive, physical and craft based work at the same time as creating digital work. I like the contrast of digital and traditional art-making techniques.


art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom

art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom

art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom

Tell us about Ephemicropolis.  How did you come up with the name?  How many staples did you build it from?

Ephemicropolis is a distant relation to some drawings I created during the residency in India, using staples to create tessellated patterns. The title for the work was built using a similar method to the techniques used to create the piece itself: rebuilding component parts of units to create something new. The title is a bit of a nod towards the well-established suffix ‘opolis’, so often used to create names for science fiction cities.

art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom

art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom

What was your process for “Digital Detritus Dover”?  How did you choose the city?

The Digital Detritus work consists of digital models created using Google SketchUp, a free 3D drawing package I was introduced to during my career as an architectural model maker. The models are then called into and animated in Google Earth using KML code. This particular work was created for the LIVELIVEProject as a site-specific work for Dover. Working with the support of the BBC, LIVELIVE is currently making its debut on the network’s Olympic Live Site Big Screen platform located in 22 cities across the UK.

art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom

art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom


Tell us about Transformer.  How did you come up with the idea?  How did the idea change before and while it manifested into a physical piece?

Transformer, as with my other installations, didn’t begin with a specific design or plan. These works are much more about spontaneous experimentation with materials, and encouraging the resulting discoveries to manifest themselves into larger structures and arrangements.

art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom


art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom

art blog - Peter Root - Empty Kingdom

Who are your influences?  How is their influence manifested in your work?

Every artist, designer, architect and filmmaker whose work I’ve ever come into contact with. Tom Friedman, Sarah Sze, Tomoko Takahashi and Marco Maggi for their intricate and inventive use of materials. Semiconductor Films who create incredible video works exploring the transient and uncertain nature of life on Earth… to name but a few.


How do you think you have affected the people who have seen your work?  What kind of affect do you hope your work has on viewers?

I enjoy the response some people have when they realize how fragile and temporary the works can be. The limited life span of something that involves so much time and concentration to create raises questions about the fleeting and fragile nature of the things.


What is your favorite media/material to work with and why?  What do you think that says about you as an artist?

Availability and cost often dictate the type of materials I use. I don’t have a favorite material. I do like to work with large quantities of stuff like vegetables, flour, metal components, pixels etc… Things that can be used to cut, fold, slot, twist, chop, balance and build with.


Where do you seek inspiration?

In nooks and crannies.


What have you read/watched recently that inspired you?

The landscapes pass by me as we’ve cycled across Europe.


How much does emotion influence your work?  How do you maintain or manipulate your emotions to enhance a piece?

The type of art I want to work on depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I like to work on repetitive tasks that let my mind wander, other times I like to work slowly and meticulously, allowing consideration to every aspect of the work.  Early to bed, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and fresh air and exercise are the recipe for success.


What are your goals/hopes for the upcoming year?

To make it safely across Asia on my bike!


What is the most delicious thing you’ve eaten this month?

A satisfyingly simple dish of beans and rice we ate in a restaurant near the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.