Water Works: The Mila Furstova Interview

Coldplay and Motherhood

MilaBlueWingD 2

Mila Furstova, Blue Wing Purple Pair.

When I saw the artwork for Coldplay’s Ghost Stories, I was taken by the mythology and discovered Mila Furstova for the first time. Mila etches in Perspex, often creating multilayered pieces. Enamored, I looked at her body of work, including the Flow Series, of a woman in the water. It is featured in last month’s story, “Apo Helios” (Jan/February). Mila, who resides in Cheltenham, England, balances an exhibition in the world’s largest venue – the album cover, motherhood, art and business. She will soon release her new series, Motherhood; to be shown at the AGallery in London. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mila Furstova for Arbus

Mila Furstova and Coldplay, Royal Albert Hall, London, 2nd July 2014

Royal Albert Hall, London, July 2, 2014—Coldplay Ghost Stories album artwork by Mila Furstova, on display and being signed by singer Chris Martin.

Water finds itself in much of your work. What is it about water that tugs at your heart? I have always been drawn to water, Jim. It is its gentleness and lack of gravity that makes me think of it as a metaphor for dreaming. Experiencing different kinds of water is like being encompassed by different emotions. You can be pulled by it, or it can make you weightless.
On the left wing of Ghost Stories, there’s a man and woman pulling at each other and fish swimming about as if underwater. It inspired the story for the last issue of Arbus. What was your inspiration? It is so lovely to know that this motif inspired the story. It’s magical when art gives birth to other art. I felt that during my collaboration with Coldplay. They inspired me, opened something in me, and things were born in the way that should happen with art. The motif was inspired by their song “True Love.” I felt that the water would suggest the flow and raging of emotions and a world of urgency where no other reality matters.

Mila Furstova at her home studio in Cheltenham, UK. Photographer: Anthony Binge @shoottheworld of Shoot the World Photography (shoot-the-world.com).

Mila Furstova at her home studio in Cheltenham, UK.
Photographer: Anthony Binge @shoottheworld of
Shoot the World Photography (shoot-the-world.com).

You said, “Being commissioned feels like an arranged marriage.” Is there a difference in your creative process when you work non-commissioned? I tried to take on a commission a couple of times after I graduated from the Royal College of Art. My heart wasn’t in it and the results showed it. When Coldplay came, their art resonated with me and I so wanted to make the first successful commission of my life with them. It wasn’t easy. I kept trying to draw something that would please them, and it wasn’t working. The magical element was Coldplay’s art director Phil Harvey. He knows the band intimately and has a rare capacity to understand visual art. I think he just ‘knew’ me, and it was he who knew it [would] work. In the end, Phil and my agent, Fraser, [turned] the entire Coldplay recording studio into my gallery. My work was filling every wall, and this way the band started to open to me and I to them. So from an arranged marriage this creative process turned into true love.
Chris Martin said, “Sometimes a piece of art looks exactly like you think your song sounds.” That’s quite a compliment. Is that how it felt as you etched? Yes. Chris has been quite amazing in this whole process. He is a true artist; he knew that he needed to trust me. I was initially afraid and kept asking him: “Chris, is there a particular motif that you would like me to draw?” and he just said, “Draw what you feel.” He gave me access to all the songs from the album as they were made. I finally just gave into them and felt my hand being led by something outside me.

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Article written by Jim Alabiso

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