Hamish Muir


I have a variety of interests that I like to explore through art. I don’t see art as distinct forms separate from each other or indeed other subjects as they can morph and co-operate to create something new.

In my own painting projects I like to explore ideas of narrative, psychology, character and symbols. I draw influence from film and literature as well as theatre having directed my own film projects. I like to think of a painting as a novel - rich in tone, poetic in expression and engrossing in its stories that suggest ideas about life that cannot be articulated verbally. I have a particular favour for satire, as it plunges the viewer into a potent contrast of comedy and tragedy. I have pursued satirical work through creating a cartoon political calendar, through illustration work at Imperial College newspaper and through writing my own poetry.

I have recently finished studying civil engineering and art history and have pursued practical art projects alongside this. I have been very intrigued by sustainable aesthetic design of set designs for theatre, as it is a multi-faceted problem requiring a multi-disciplinary approach. I collaborated with theatres in London to devise a design philosophy that was financial and environmental whilst maintaining artistic possibility and integrity of the set designer. I am continuing to develop this research through studying the innovations of 18th and 19th century theatre to see if there are creative, technological possibilities for developing the art form based on some of the artistic movements of the past.

I love set design in particular because it deals with environmental psychology and visual expressions of narrative and mood. I have been a set designer at university and have recently finished writing my own play, which deals with the creation of a piece of art and the power of images through a character revolutionising the ornament in their surroundings and so changing their own outlook on life and the way people look at them. I believe that society still needs to find ornament and imagery that creates improved 21st century style environments rather than the practical and mundane straight lines and flat surfaces that surround us.

What does improvisation mean to you?

With improvisation, the story is unfinished and the audience don’t know what will happen next. It touches on issues of free will and whether visual objects affect our choices, as an environment can force people subconsciously to behave a particular way. I am in favour of questioning and studying the interaction of people with their environment through improvisation, as choices are so fundamental to our identity and trajectories. It is collaboration, interest, creativity, unpredictability, engagement and insight, much like life itself.

In broader terms, for me, art is a wholesome companion who is constantly stimulating in interest because it evolves and has infinite layers. It is such a wonderful and absurd process meaning on occasion art struggles to justify itself in practical terms, like the awkward teenage brother to the high achieving scientific student, but in its wake, art leaves the purest and most beautiful evidence of being human.