Mila Fürstová interview (pt 2)
5 December 2014 10:26 am
We hear about her childhood and the Ghost Stories art exhibition
The Ghost Stories art exhibition - featuring Mila Fürstová's original artwork for the album - is happening in London until 7 December. The free exhibition takes place at 17 Osborn St, Shoreditch, London and is open from 11am until 8pm. You can also buy the works from the Album Artists website. All proceeds will go towards Kids Company's incredible work with disadvantaged young people. 

Ahead of the exhibition, we called up Mila to find out more about her artwork. Read the first part of our interview here.

Have you had work that’s had exposure before, in magazines and on posters?
A little bit. Not on posters, though. There were a lot of billboards everywhere, but a few weeks before the album was released, I gave birth to my second child. And then she was rushed to hospital and I had quite a tricky time. So I hadn’t seen any of the billboards myself. I was too busy wiping poo! My friends from all around the world were telling me that my work was everywhere, and I was just looking at my laptop covered in poo! But I was still very, very happy. It was a nice time.

The billboards were amazing. I’ll send you some photos.
Oh could you, please? For me this whole thing could actually be a joke, like in the Truman Show, because I’ve been in my world of this commitment to the babies. I haven’t seen any of that stuff.

Artists don’t often get the chance to connect with the public to this level. Millions of people have seen this artwork and looked at it in detail. That must be quite a crazy feeling.
Oh, absolutely. I’ve really enjoyed it. My work is really, really intimate, so to put it on that scale is… you know my work is like whispering and you suddenly elevate this whispering and you get people to listen to a whisper, which is an extra achievement.

And what did you think of the animations of the artwork?
Oh yeah these guys who made that are absolutely geniuses. Phil hadn’t told me about the animation and I think it was coming out close to my birthday and he wanted to surprise me with it. And then it came out and I was sitting in front of it in tears. I couldn’t believe it. And then later on I realised how many tears it caused everywhere else - it was such a big job for the poor animators! So all my work of love and fun has led to a lot of suffering for these people who had to retrace every single line.

It’s so well done.
They are great. What I think they’ve done beautifully is they’ve kept that poetic feel to the whole thing. They did it so sensitively. And some of the characters they take them on a further journey.

Were you a fan of Coldplay before all this?
Yes, I was. I’d never been to their concerts or worn their T-shirt, but I’ve heard their music and always responded to it. There was one time in my life when there were some difficult things happening and one of their songs really helped me. It came to me in moments where it started reading like a sign. It was another reason why I was so surprised that it was particularly Coldplay when Fraser called me. it could have been anybody else. But I had this link from 2009 to them. So it was like a message from Heaven somehow.

How did you originally get into art?
I was born in communist Czechoslovakia and in communist countries people tried to find the talents of their children very, very early. So it was in nursery school and the talent spotters came to my school and they said, “Oh, she should do ballet or art”. My parents sent me to both. In ballet I cried because I missed my mum. But when I was doing art I had forgotten my mum. I was just lost in it. I drew and drew all the time. I was growing up in a country that was closed. We were told at school that we could never leave the country. That we’d never see Italy or anywhere. Drawing became like a form of dreaming for me.

So the talent spotters did ultimately do a good job.
Yeah, I followed it. When I was 14 I went to a boarding school which was like an art school in Prague. But then when I was 18 I applied to the Academy of Arts in Prague and they didn’t want me. They didn’t think that I had talent. So I ended up in Britain and I was given better opportunity here. I eventually got to study at the Royal College of Art. But even then there’s different fashions in the world of fine art and I have often been reduced to tears because my work wasn’t considered conceptual enough. Like, “Why are you drawing? Why are you not doing something more meaningful?” But for me it was just my world and I wanted to draw. So I was kind of unfashionable, if you like.

Has there been much response to the Ghost Stories artwork back in the Czech Republic?
Yes, the response has been extraordinary. On one hand they kind of rejected me, then Coldplay and their divinity brushes over me and suddenly I’m a heroine! I’m really, really grateful for it, but my feet are still on the ground because it’s happening abroad. I’ve had newspaper articles about me, I’ve been on TV there and they just voted some art awards for the last 25 years and I won my category!

It sounds like you’ve had an incredible year.
I really have. It’s helped me grow as an artist and as a person. On a human level I loved meeting the band. I think that not only are they such amazing musicians, they have such a  great deal of lovely humanity. And they’re really kind. People say violence breeds violence, but I think also that kindness breeds kindness. They are like that and I really respect that. It’s been inspiring.

Has it opened doors for you?
Yeah, I think it has. I’ve had a few approaches. But I don’t want to become like a tart to commissions. I would love to keep doing my own work and maybe do some projects that I’m interested in. But I don’t think anything is going to be like Coldplay really. Because also I have just given myself to it. Some groups approached me straight after, and to me it felt like infidelity! I said no, I can’t do this. I want to do other things.

Did you get to go to some of the Ghost Stories shows?
Yes, they kindly invited me to the Royal Albert Hall. That was where I graduated from, ten years ago, and suddenly they’re projecting my artwork on the ceiling! And from my communist start, I was just pinching myself. I was thinking this can not be happening.

And they did the huddle with you just before you went on stage!
Again, I was pinching myself! Actually, I was probably pinching Phil, I think! But everybody in the whole Coldplay team has really embraced me and treated me with respect and kindness.

The Ghost Stories exhibition is about to open. Are you excited about that?
Oh yes, I am really excited. There will be over 100 works on show, with all the sketches. With Magic there were just three sketches, but by the time we got to True Love - because it was a very sensitive theme - suddenly there were probably about 30. I had a problem with drawing the heart. I didn’t know how to not make it too sweet.

It turned out very well in the end.
Thank you. That one was definitely the most difficult birth. There were two almost complete versions that Chris said at the last minute didn’t feel quite right. But I was really pleased with what we ended up with.

It’s great to be raising some money for Kids Company through the exhibition too.
I know. That’s just the best thing. I’m not used to art having such power. And I think it can really breed good things. I was always so lucky to have so much love around me from my parents. If this money can help to show the children they are loved, it’s such a force to have.

And fans are travelling from all over the place to see the exhibition.
I know! But they’re mainly coming to see Coldplay.

Not sure they’ll be standing there the whole time as an exhibit.
Oh really? I thought they would be! Haha! But no, it’s incredible to think people are coming to see the artwork.

The final question, which we ask everyone, is what is your favourite Coldplay song?
OK. I’m gonna have three. Viva La Vida, because it’s the one of significance for me from 2009. And then A Sky Full Of Stars because I felt with that song he sang something that I’ve always thought all my life. I think that I drew pictures about what Chris is singing, about looking at the universe and seeing yourself. And then I love O, with the birds. There’s just something so at peace with everything about that song. It just has sadness and happiness all together. It’s sublime.

Tagged As: interview Ghost Stories