LUCINDA BURGESS 4 FRANCESCA BUSCA 10 PABLO CAVIEDES 16 JOHN PAUL EVANS 22 LINDSAY HAYRE 28 JUKKA-PEKKA JALOVAARA 34 REBECCA KEY 40 KEVIN KILLEN 46
GEOFF LATZ 52 JAMES MCCOLL 58 CAMPBELL MCCONNELL 64 ABI MILLER 70 SID & JIM 76 ERIKA STEARLY 82 THOMAS WALKER 88 MARISSA WEDENIG 94
Lucinda Burgess Bath, UK
I use materials that are capable of dramatic visual transformation, choosing to emphasise transience at the level of materials and objects as well as within the viewer’s direct experience. I repeat processes as well as objects to emphasise the truth that no thing or experience can in fact be repeated, each is unique and utterly fleeting. Sometimes the ‘same’ sculpture is repeated so that the viewer experiences it twice in differing contexts. The time lag between viewing places the attention on unfolding experience rather than on the idea of a unique autonomous object. The differing contexts also change the perception of the work as well as the way in which it is experienced, one for example might be walked on and barely noticed, likening it to a grille in a door threshold, the other ‘identical’ object is on the wall and looked at, reminding us of modernist abstraction, and likely to be taken seriously in a gallery context. Much of my work brings attention to unfolding transient experience, rusting steel continues to decay, glass reflects the changing light and complicates the visual field with its fluid changeability. Dyed water of the same dark red inside bottles fades unevenly over the weeks. The use of a minimalist aesthetic helps to highlight subtle change and difference while the use of long lines helps to exaggerate the changing perspectives of the viewer as they walk around the space.
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Briefly describe the work you do. I use glass, burnt wood, mild steel, paper and liquid – materials that are capable of dramatic transformation. The intention is to emphasize transience at the level of materials and objects as well as within the viewer’s direct experience. I repeat processes as well as objects to stress that no thing or experience can really be repeated, each is unique and utterly fleeting. Sometimes the same sculpture is repeated so that the viewer experiences it twice in differing contexts. The time lag between the two viewings places attention on unfolding experience rather than on the idea of an autonomous object. The differing contexts change the perception of the work as well as the way in which it is experienced. One, for example, might be walked on and barely noticed, like a grille on a doorstep, while its twin is placed on the wall and looked at, reminding us of modernist abstraction, and the way any object can be taken seriously in a gallery. Much of my work draws attention to unfolding transient experience, as well as emphasizing changeability at the level of basic materials: rusting steel continues to decay, glass reflects the changing light and complicates the visual field with its fluid mutability. Dyed water, poured into bottles, starts off the same dark red, but then fades unevenly over the weeks. A minimalist aesthetic helps to highlight subtle change and difference, while long lines help to exaggerate the changing perspectives of the viewer as they walk around the space. How has your background influenced you? I was a Buddhist nun for 11 years and most of the monastic training was about developing awareness of transience, transience of a thought, a smell, a mood, a sight. The ultimate aim of which was to bring about an understanding of non-self at a fundamental level, that is, the non-existence of anything permanent within experience. This is an understanding that things in the world, as well as selves, are ultimately concepts – tools for operating, not the reality of present-moment experience. The fixity that concepts imply, the concept of self or a thing, be it a table, a chair or a mountain, is not substantiated when ongoing sensory and mental experience is examined closely. This philosophical training permeates all my work as an artist.
I also worked as a landscape designer, where the notion of ongoing maintenance is completely taken for granted. Several of my works fully embrace the constantly changing nature of things to the extent that they need work and care to maintain them, for instance polishing shiny metal to retain a reflective surface when its natural inclination is to grow dull and rust. Natural processes such as rusting, reflecting, burning, and chemical changes in liquid over time: these are integral to my work. My first BA degree in painting continues to show even though my MFA (completed in 2014) was primarily about materials and therefore three-dimensional. I continue to emphasize surface texture, and surface reflection, without much attention to weight or volume. My primary interest is in the way the visual field keeps shifting and dancing. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? In a strange way my work uses concepts in an attempt to challenge the belief in the reality of concepts, or the permanence and fixity that concepts imply. For example the concept of an artwork that is on the wall of a gallery space is undermined by placing the same thing on the floor in a door threshold, so that the concept changes and it becomes a foot grille. The concept, or label, is completely dependent on the context. I’m interested in highlighting the fact that concepts are just tools, necessary tools to order the flux of experience, but tools nonetheless. I try to avoid representation – the material is the material and it is not there to represent anything else. In this sense, my work is not heavily conceptual. Of course different labels and associations will arise in the mind of the viewer, depending on their own experiences, but as far as possible I try to let the material do the talking, presenting it in a way that highlights its transient nature. This transience is the concept. Time is a concept, and transience is a concept too: they are inextricably linked. How has your work changed in the past years? I’ve moved away from making a single object. Instead I’ve been using the wall and the floor for one work, as well as two rooms to display one work. This allows
the work to be experienced over time, it cannot all be seen or touched at once, it is something that unfolds; at one moment there are colours and shapes through the eyes, and at another moment, there are pressures in the feet; these separate sensory experiences are then given a label, a label that implies one fixed thing, as well as a solid reliable, objective world. In the work that is situated in two rooms, the perception changes as the context changes. Where the room is a gallery, close attention is given and the glass work is highlighted; in the room that is a corridor, the glass work looks similar to all the glass doors in that corridor and is barely registered. The same thing is never the same. How would you describe the art scene in your area? My area is London and Bath, I go between the two. Bath Spa University is incredibly dynamic and forward-looking, offering residencies and awards and generally supporting its alumni very well. London is of course London, exciting, stimulating, with an endless supply of contemporary art to see. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? The term is used to cover such a broad spectrum that anything might be called Art. For me, Marina Abramović uses it to increase attentiveness and Roni Horn uses it to question fixed identities and to underline transience and the ephemeral; I find both very inspiring. What exhibitions have you had since your MA and what are your future plans? Since I graduated with distinction in 2014, I’ve been working full-time as an artist, exhibiting widely across the UK with commissions in Cornwall and at Kew Gardens and exhibitions in London at Beaux Art Gallery, the Oxo Tower Gallery and the Nunnery Gallery, as well as galleries and a museum in the cities of Bath, Bristol and Oxford. I am currently working on a commission to commemorate the storm of 2014 in Porthleven as well as making paper and graphite works that break down the separation of drawing and sculpture.
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www.lucindaburgess.com Group show at Nunnery Gallery, Lucinda’s vertical glass wall sculpture ‘Seeing straight (pair)’ 2016
Francesca Busca London, UK / Trieste, Italy
My mission is to make Mosaics ROCK. I want to show this art to the world under a whole new light: no longer as a static piece, but rather as a work of art which can be incredibly richâ€Ś the very nature of its texture and just the subtle tilt of a tile allow for different colours, reflections and shades depending on the angle of sight: chances are that no two viewers will see it the same way at the same time. Torn between optimism and surrender, I am haunted by the idea of mankindâ€™s imminent self-destruction. Yet, I still believe in a future for humanity of resourceful innovation through recycling and upcycling. I am fascinated by the colours and textures of both artificial and natural elements, which I enthusiastically hunt for in everyday life and restlessly play with in new combinations, pairing and contrasting noble material with rubbish. My aim is to prove their reciprocal need, how rubbish is a relative definition and how it can be turned into something useful, fun and even beautiful. The long time it takes to create a mosaic is both a challenge and a bliss. As I start a piece I ache with ideas I want to realise: however it takes discipline, a critical eye and a lot of patience to transform them into artwork. Yet by the time I finish the piece, it is mind-blowing to see how just one of those ideas has pushed me to experiment in so many different ways that not only I feel pleasantly enriched with new skills, but also my fingers itch to get onto the next piece to start afresh with the next idea. Whilst developing my own style, I cannot help pushing myself beyond my creative boundaries: experimenting with different subjects, colours, materials, textures, depth, tools or methods... this is now my personal shortcut to happiness.
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When, how and why started your art practice? Believe it or not, I only cut my first tile in August 2015. Whilst visiting the amazing Basilica of Aquileia, in Friuli, Italy (again after decades) and its beautiful mosaics, I brought home a bag of preset material to reproduce the “Pavoncelle” (Lapwings). I had no idea of how to do it, but I was irresistibly drawn to it. After 5 consecutive days and nights, I was hooked! The feeling I got from playing with the texture, tridimensionality, shades, smells and overall richness of the materials blew me away. So, I immediately looked for a place where I could learn more about it: I found Southbank Mosaics in London, an incrmacedibly inspirational place which I still regularly attend twice a week and to which I feel I owe most of my achievements, and where I obtained my first Certificate. I also started attending as many courses as possible at the Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli in Spilimbergo (Italy): the incredible skills and beauty that perspire in each piece, room, wall and corridor of that place are a caress to one’s soul. I then attended a delightful course in Turkey with Ingi at Ocean House, and I am always looking for more…Why? Because, after pursuing an education in Classics and Law to try to make up for what I believed I naturally lacked in my character (such as attention to form and detail rather than to content and emotion), I felt an evergrowing, overwhelming urge to follow my natural propension for creativity and emotion: I feel I have finally found my calling, and I am driven by an unsatiable need to learn more and to constantly push both my technical and creative boudaries. It is both a rush and a necessity, a real obsession. What is your creative process like? At the beginning I focused my efforts on eagerly learning methods and technique, so I would choose the subjects based on my learning needs: how to cut with different tools, andamenti, colour theories… As I gained more confidence, I started experimenting with unusual material, incorporating intriguing pieces of ‘rubbish’ in the works, which led me to experimenting with texture and depth. The results were pleasing to the eye, but
not what I aimed for: I wanted to be an artist, which I believe by definition to be a restless soul who feels the overwhelming need to externalise his/her feelings, whether to follow or appease his/ her emotional or intellectual turmoil. It could be a sophisticated theory or pure raw basic emotion, but it will be a message as strong as the artist can manage to convey. Whichever way, the purpose of art is for this message to come out in order to provoke something in the viewers - to make them feel and/or think. The breakthough for me came with “Lust for Life (Frida)”, where I had to express what I felt better represented Frida Khalo. Oddly enough, it was the piece which at that time took me less to do, because it was entirely my creation - and I had it so clear in my mind! This is why, now, EXPRESSION - whether of a concept or of an emotion - is my primary aim. I start a piece as soon as I have that “Eureka!” feeling about one of them. My head is constantly spinning with messages and themes to express. I always work on at least two pieces at a time, as it is the only way to appease my eagerness, calm my mind and keep it focused at the same time. In your opinion, what does painting mean in contemporary culture? Is it essential to life? No. Is it essential for living? Yes! I truly believe it is essential for our evolution. Not only it is a witness of the current moment in history, but it represents valuable food for thought. In my view, it has the same weight as philosophy, sports, playing and laughing. It exercises your brain and your heart. It helps seeing life in a rounder way, looking beyond our basic duties and needs, putting our individual existence into a common context. It allows you to apply your judgement freely and hopefully to express it just as freely, in a context without prejudice. Or so it should be. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I already feel flattered by being called ‘artist’, let alone being compared to a Master! But, since we are all allowed to dream…I would have to start with Michelangelo: not only he was both a sculptor and a painter - therefore prac-
ticing the two forms of fine art which in my opinion define the range of action of mosaics - but he also seemed to have this gift of identifying each shade and vein in the marble and turning them into the perfect line, shape or even expression of his works, creating such masterpieces that it is impossible not to feel his anguish when he supposedly threw his hammer to his Moses’ knee, crying “why are you not speaking to me?!?”. I have yet to find a sculture as moving as La Pieta’…if I could only have a little of his talent… The second one would have to be Van Gogh. For two reasons: first, his underlying reference to pointillism, which can easily be compared with mosaics if not, at least, for the need to mix pieces of different colours to obtain certain shades which are not otherwise available. Secondly, for the way his bold strokes turned this reference into something strong, personal, and unfailingly charged with some extraordinary energy. What I see in his masterpieces is an obsessive strive to recreate an overwhealming stupor about the wondrousness of everything he painted, from the sky to a chair, as if he had just seen them for the first time. I would dare say that if you do not like Van Gogh, you have lost contact with the child inside you… Which brings me to my third choice: children, any and all of them. Spontaneuos, immediate and essential: their capacity to recreate a situation or an emotion in just a few lines is mind-blowing. I do not say this with the love of a mother, but rather as an envious competitor who understands she is doomed to lose time and time again, and that what she had she inevitably traded for living life. If only we could turn back time…or perhaps, try again in the next life! How would you describe the art scene in your area? Unfortunately, I think that mosaic is highly under-rated and unknown to most: people seem to think of it either as a thing of the past (Roman and Bizantine times) or as a shower splashback in contemporary times. But it has SO much more potential than what it is currently known for… Few people understand the work and studies that go behind it: mosaics are a synthesis between full (tile) and empty (gaps), each tile is cut precise-
ly based on the lines and shades of the image, colours are paired or contrasted based on the desired outcome: even the grout, if used, can be of different colours within the same piece as an additional tool for highlighting, contrasting or saturating a given area in the piece. It is a niche market, as the materials themself are heavy and expensive, and the work is time-consuming: these factors are reflected in the price, which makes it harder for this art to be divulged to the general public. The vast majority of mosaic artists live on commission-based work, which I think is a shame: they cannot allow themselves the freedom to go beyond what is asked of them, and take their work to its full potential. When I stare in awe at the pieces from the third year students at the Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli, for example, I wonder how many of them will later be allowed in life to freely and fully use those stunning capabilities…or whether they will be forced by market demands to limit their potential to being highly skilled artisans, in order to make a living. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? Mosaics require a lot of patience: but if you like it, time will fly! Try a class first: chances are that you will either love it or hate it. The lack of free hand movement directly on the surface can be very frustrating…but if you like textures, you might just love to feel the materials… the tools might fit like a natural prosthesis… then, it can be the most fun jigsaw ever! Find teachers from different schools. Learn the basics about andamento, methods, and colours. Experiment. Try all tools and all materials. To give you an idea, hammer and hardie are essential with marble and stones, and for anything thick: they allow you to work the shapes in all three dimensions. Cutters are great for thinner material and tiles, and wheeled ones allow you to curve. Look at the things that surround you with a fresh eye and an open mind: chances are, you will find beauty where you least expected to… So, my biggest advice is: ALWAYS be open to all suggestions, NEVER take anything for granted, learn and try as much as you can, and then - MAKE IT YOURS!
What are your future plans? As a must: always to re-use, up-cycle and re-cycle as much as possible. In the short term, I want to work on a concept which has haunted me for almost 30 years, and which in my opinion is especially relevant in these current dark times, namely history repeating itself: Machiavelli, Kant and Hegel in particular offer some stimulating arguments on our individual inability to learn from it and to see the big picture, yet with different approaches and outcomes. For example, Hegel believes that our intrinsec miopy will inevitably be corrected by providence: I would like to reproduce this as a spring, to represent how, at different times in history, we find ourselves at the same point but on a different level, each one getting closer to ‘correction’: from a technical point of view, I am looking forward to playing with depth. Where this evolution will take us, no-one knows I am troubled by the thought that it will lead us to our self-destruction, but relieved at the tought that, just as with the Big Bang, our end will coincide with a new beginning. And this is yet another intriguing project with multiple aspects to tackle: the synthesis between our ingenuity and our miopy, our natural limitations and our incredible capacity to abstract, our natural individual differences (such as taste) and the obvious threads which connect us all both as a species and as elements of Nature. Our sharing of the same, underlying energy. Whether the consciousness aquired by the fragments of energy, which I like to believe get encapsulated in each of us as individuals at birth, is retained by the Whole after death…and always, always, the need to keep an open mind and an open heart towards anyone and anything: I see this as the only way to retain our freedom, especially in times when we think we are free whilst we are kept sedated by the preoccupation of money, and controlled by fear. In the medium term, I would really like to learn how to make an eco-friendly adhesive, and work on bigger pieces. In the long term, I want to keep learning, for as long as I live! And, of course, to have a solo exhibition at the Tate…;) NEVER stop dreaming!
New York, USA
My artistic process reflects my life experience in that it is constantly shifting and being shaped by the cultures of the places in which I have lived - Ecuador (my native country), Paris, Barcelona, and currently New York. It developed through the study of concepts and subjects that either touched or intrigued me, such as the coexistence of human beings with nature. This is evident in my longer series of works “Entre blanco oscuro y Negros claros,” “Los Ungulados,” “Griots,” “Silencio,” “Bridges and Ways,” “Mannequin,” “Nomada,” and more recently “On the Map.” Some address issues involving social matters, such as the serious political and economic crisis that led to the largest migration in Ecuador, and, in my latest series, the complexity of the origins and identity of the American people as a product of on-going immigration, while others are explorations in aesthetics, such as my study of monochromatic colors. Through each work, I sought to provoke some kind of reaction from the viewer - reflection, questioning, empathy, sensitivity – with which to form the basis of a new understanding or perspective on the topic. The mediums I use have been greatly influenced by my exposure to various cultures, which has widened my horizons and led to the adoption of various techniques. While I use mainly painting, drawing, etching, sculpture, art object, and installations, I have also used digital art, 3D painting, and animation video to develop a visual language. These techniques have enabled me to express my philosophy of life.
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Briefly describe the work you do. My work has a strong connection with my life and the experience of living in different places and cultures. This has widened my horizons as an artist and influenced my choice of various techniques. While I do mainly painting, drawing, etching, sculpture, art object, and art installations, I have also used digital art, 3D painting, and animation video in my process. These techniques have enabled me to develop my own visual language and express my philosophy of life. Through each work, I hope to provoke some kind of reaction from the viewer on the topics which touch me, or intrigue me - such as social matters, the coexistence of human beings with nature, or the historical and cultural complexity of immigration to United States. The last one has become the major motive in my recent series of works. Through my art I intent to inspire reflection, questioning, empathy and sensitivity. When, how and why started your art practice? As far as I remember, being a child, I always looked for the opportunity to find myself a quiet space regardless of where I was, so I could draw or paint with any simple tools I could find. Obviously I had no understanding of what art meant at that time. At the age of eight my teacher acknowledged my artistic skills when she needed my help in preparing the project for the art class. Based on the pictures that she gave me, I was asked to copy those images in enlarged size, on the blackboard with color chalks, so the rest of the students could refer to it while doing their own individual copies. When I was sixteen I already knew that I wanted to become an artist and I made a conscious decision of getting my art education and experience at Daniel Reyes Instituto de Artes Plásticas. After completing my studies there I was actively participating in art exhibitions and competitions. As a result, at the age of 23, I won the Paris Award which was considered the highest acknowledgement for the artist under 40 in Ecuador at that time. This award led me to the scholarship at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, Paris, (France), where I had the opportunity to study etching with the great artist, Jean Pierre Tanguy. At the same time, I had
a chance to get introduced to the world of art “first hand” – I visited museums, art galleries and traveled to other European art venues. Since then, I have been showing and developing my art work internationally while New York City has been my home for the last 14 years. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? Concept plays an important part in my artistic process. As a favorite tool to achieve the intended idea while working on a project, I consider a metaphor. It allows me to be open for playfulness, a little teasing and even some sort of adventure of developing some picaresque surprise and this way invite the viewers to reflect and even experience the process of change. Independently, I care about the physical and technical quality of the work itself as well, its representational form and its potential to evoke feelings, emotional connections and the intellectual experience. How has your work changed in the past years? Experimenting and exploring new options in my artistic process are part of my nature. I have accomplished a variety of art series which differ in concepts and technique which to some extend where
influenced by my exposure to various cultures as well as the personal experience. From grey, monochromatic period in my early years back in Ecuador to a more colorful palette which I have developed inspired by moving to New York City. Most recently, I have created a series of 3D paintings as well as digital art works and animation films. Those works are a new experience for me as an artist and are part of my current and probably most important art series, inspired by the United States immigration issues which I have titled “On the Map.” How would you describe the art scene in your area? I have lived in New York City since 2003, after experiencing life and its art scene in two major European cities – Paris and Barcelona as well as exploring other culturally significant places. I believe it is very crucial for any artist to see first hand the achievements of world art and have an opportunity to identify your own possibilities regardless of where you originally come from. New York seems to be a dream of all artists. There is no other place that would generate more energy and stimulation. It is a “melting pot” with a colorful ethnic panorama and its richness of culture, languages, food with an easy access to the enormous amount of cultural programing and offers. It is
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known as a center of diversity and opportunities. For some, the famous “New York, New York” song lyrics: “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” happen to be true. It is a place with unlimited amount of art venues and at the same time very strong competition which requires the highest quality of offer from the artist. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? In contrast with the preceding, twentieth century, “modern world” culture characterized by richness of trends, raptures and a vertigo of art proposals, we are now living in the globalized world, dominated by the mass and virtual screens trends, intertwined by invisible networks in which the human being is increasingly individualized and dependent of the hyper-frantic digital systems. Those systems, which at any time and distance connect us, ironically, disconnect us and uproot us from that other, more tangible reality - the physical, earthly and a
spiritual one, the one with the organic essence of being and an ability to preserve a coexistence in harmony with everything that surrounds us in this immense and at the same time small environment called Earth. Art has perhaps more that ever significant role to play now to help preserve, “Pachamama,” as the native South American people call Mother Earth, which is our only home, from a serious danger of deep, irreversible marks resulting from our alienated, disproportionate consuming, accumulating and voracious systems of living. In that context, art can have special meaning in our contemporary world, if we could take advantage of and optimize the same resources created by the virtual culture to forge proposals that sensitize, question and awaken a greater critical awareness, both individual and collective, which will allow to draw a route that is not extinguished along the way. Art then means the power to subscribe a better present, a history that will leave fewer scars and a destination as vast and
diverse as those offered by the cultures of yesterday which had much less, but understood how to coexist being always part of a whole. What are your future plans? Probably the most important project which I hope to complete this coming spring is the publication of my first book based on the series of works titled “On the Map” and which I have created in the last six years. This project reflects my personal view on the impact of the immigration on the identity of the United States of America. “On the Map” consists on different media works including drawings, paintings, art objects, sculptures, 3D paintings, digital art and animation art videos. The book, with the text by the Art Historian, Dr. Jose Rodeiro is already finished in its bi-lingual (English and Spanish) version and as soon as it is published I’m planning to focus on its promotion which will hopefully be followed by the exhibition of the entire “On the Map” series.
John Paul Evans Budleigh Salterton, UK
In his memoirs, Stephen Fry remarked on an encounter he had with Alastair Cooke. After shaking hands, the writer and broadcaster synonymous with letter from America, informed Fry that he was shaking the hand of someone who had shook the hand of Bertrand Russell. When Fry displayed amazement, the man of letters added that it didn’t stop there, and that Bertrand Russell knew Robert Browning and Bertrand Russell’s aunt had danced with Napoleon. This example of ‘degrees of separation’, a concept which influenced the early thought on social networks, reminded me of a curious connection between my homeland of south Wales, the promised land of America, the notion of home and the politics of otherness. The sentimental ballad “home sweet home”, written by John Howard Payne in 1822, and adopted after his death as a unifying propaganda during the American Civil War, offered solace in a time where a nation was divided or split geographically. The song became synonymous with the opera singer Adelina Patti who was described by Giuseppe Verdi in 1877 as being perhaps the finest singer who had ever lived. Abraham Lincoln famously implored the singer to console him with the ballad after the loss of his son Willie to typhoid. The talisman of home offering comfort and protection in a time of mourning. Oscar Wilde, a man famous, and sometimes infamous, for his use of words referenced Patti in his fiction. On his tour of America the aesthete attended a performance by the singer as a closing entertainment of the Cincinnatti Opera Festival. Wilde was taken backstage to meet Adelina and the experience was to have a profound effect on the writer. He included references to Patti in his only novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, a strange kismet that seemed to foretell his impending destiny. After Wilde’s disgrace and downfall the country to offer Wilde refuge and ‘home’ was France, the nation that offered Liberty in symbolic form to America. Paris would become his home and his final resting place. In the nineteenth century, Britain was not a place to offer ‘home sweet home’ to the homosexual. In the latter part of her life, Patti resided in the Swansea valley in her retirement home at Craig y Nos, where she built her own theatre. She died in the Welsh castle, but her final resting place would be alongside her beloved Rossini in Pere Lachaise, a Parisian locale she would share with Wilde after death. These serendipitous events reflect the arbitrary possibilities of our social networks. The pervasive sentiment offered by this ballad has permeated generations and centuries and presents us with an idea that should make us reflect on how we connect with others, how we understand our place in the world, and how we generate discourse of belonging and otherness.
When, how and why started your art practice?
In your opinion, what does photography mean in contemporary culture?
I first started to think about photography seriously in the mid to late 1980s. It was a time when I was coming to terms with my sexuality in an era of AIDS and right wing politics in Britain and America. The alternative contemporary photographic world responded to the politics of the time by analyzing the way photography is deployed socially and politically to reinforce concepts of gender, race, class, nationality and sexuality in terms of normality and ‘otherness’. It was this cultural background that made me realize that photography and the politics of otherness were the subject and medium that I wanted to frame my art practice within.
We now live in a post iphone, facebook, instagram era where the expectation to photograph oneself seems compulsory. It’s a very different creative world to the one that I evolved into. Self-portraiture was once a conscious decision and often employed to make a conceptual statement about the avoidance of objectification. This seemed useful in responding to questions of gender, sexuality and being. Although the world seems oversaturated with photographs in a digital era, I would argue the same rules and codes of normality and otherness apply. We only have to listen to the debates on feminism, abortion, gay marriage and immigration in the American election, the Brexit vote, and in the upcoming elections in Europe to realize that there is a constant struggle for power, and photography is one of the central tools deployed to reinforce cultural codes and public opinion. In this sense, photography still plays a critical role in the way identities are formed across the media. In the ‘microphysics of power’, Michel Foucault puts forward the idea of power operating in capillary fashion, not only from the top down but in networks spreading out, permeating society. The possibilities in acknowledging power operating in this way is that it allows people to transform the prevailing cultural codes through individual acts within the field of power/knowledge. In this sense any work of representation has the possibility of changing, or conversely, reaffirming opinions. The internet might be used as a useful analogy of this idea of power networks. We might argue that these networks can’t overthrow governments directly, but they can change the way we think about things and they can alert us to who is doing the talking and on whose behalf they speak. I would have never believed as a young man in the 1980s that gay marriage would be law in Great Britain in the 21 century. For Peter’s part growing up in a period where being homosexual was illegal and only partially decriminalized in 1967 as a consequence of the Wolfenden report, then we would have to acknowledge that things have shifted considerably in terms of gay rights in western culture. But we shouldn’t be
What is your creative process like? In recent years my creative process has been a fusion of photographing Peter and myself in domestic environments as well as in the landscape, in making still-life pictures as well as crude montage and model making, and in working in B & W as well as in colour. These varied approaches to questioning the couple/marriage/wedding portrait have provided a framework which has enabled me to respond to various themes and ideas in relation to the couple/marriage/ wedding portrait. It is always much more straightforward to work towards a specific exhibition or a commission. For instance, after receiving the Hasselblad Masters Award 2016, I was then commissioned by Hasselblad to make a body of images ‘kings, queens & fairy tales’ for the Hasselblad Masters ‘Inspire’ publication which was launched in Photokina, Cologne in September. Having a publication and deadline was very useful, as I needed to be very focused in realizing my ideas. Similarly, with home sweet home, I knew that the work needed to be completed for the Ffotogallery Diffusion festival of photography in October 2015 so there were deadlines for making, printing and framing the work. In quieter periods, I try to keep a couple of projects/ideas on the backburner, as it’s always useful to be working on something when a particular project comes to fruition.
complacent as there will always be people who given the chance would like to shift power in another direction. We only have to look at the consequence of the Brexit vote and comments in the French election about repealing Gay Marriage law to realize that. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. It’s a very difficult question, as it might be perceived by others to be arrogant or delusional. But if I responded instead to name 3 artists I would like to be in an exhibition with, then I would say: 1. Rosy Martin for her work in phototherapy in addressing gender stereotypes, in transgressing approved cultural codes in ‘outrageous agers’, in reenacting points in family history and in using photography to try to come to terms with memory and loss over the decline and death of her mother. 2. Duane Michals for his use of comedy, of tragedy, and his poetic ability to address who we are in the world. 3. Angus McBean for his use of models and montage to create ‘playfully surreal’ photographs. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I now live in Devon and the closest city to where I live would be Exeter. Having lectured in higher education for more than 20 years, I am aware that cities that have art schools benefit greatly form the local energy of undergraduate and post graduate students. I lectured on the fine art degree in Cardiff School of Art and in Photography in the Arts in University of Wales Trinity St David Swansea. Both Cardiff and Swansea have thriving art scenes that exhibit established artists as well as providing opportunities for artists and photographers who are just starting out. In that sense, it is sad that a number of the art and design courses relocated from Exeter to Plymouth some years back, as I know that any city benefits from the creative input of undergraduate and post graduate art and design students. Having said that, Exeter is very lucky to have an arts centre, Exeter Phoenix, which is in
the same mold as the arts council funded arts centers like Chapter in Cardiff, and MAC in Birmingham. This provides the city with a contemporary gallery space and a theatre and cinema programme. There is also Spacex Gallery, which originally opened as an artist cooperative in 1974 and aims to provide a programme of projects and events, which focus on ‘collaboration’ between artists and audiences. Next door to Phoenix is RAM, The Royal Albert Museum which won the Museum of the year award 2012 and provides a range of contemporary and historical exhibitions.
What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? It is important to apply regularly to opportunities and not to take it personally if your submission is unsuccessful. The selectors or curators will always have their own personal criteria and if you are not chosen doesn’t it necessarily reflect badly on your work. You need to believe that the work you do is important and to continue making work regardless of whether you have an exhibition or a publication in the pipeline. As a practicing artist, the ideas need to develop in their own time outside
of other obligations or constraints. When you graduate from arts school it is very unlikely that an established gallery will give you a solo exhibition. It is important to try and form supportive networks and groups in order to exhibit work as one show hopefully leads to the next and then if you build enough of an exhibiting profile you stand a good chance of having a solo exhibition. What are your future plans? Home Sweet Home will be exhibited in Oriel Theatre Clwyd from January-March 2017. I continue to work with Peter on various projects.
Lindsay Hayre Kingston upon Hull, UK
My artwork primarily explores space and place and brings in to question topics such as, how is space occupied? And what does such occupied space reveal about us? The completed works take the form of books, photography, prints or paintings. I produce community art works that work with and reflect local residential communities. My work focuses on individuality and indenture amongst the repetitive conformity of inhabited council environments in Hull. The completed projects aim to bring together communities and assign them a voice.
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When, how and why started your art practice? Most of my work is created on and about council estates and the City I live in. I am interested in the characters, repetition in architecture, marks and objects left in every day areas, common areas to stop and pause, urban lighting, colour and hidden areas of beauty and fascination. I grew up on Bransholme, a large council estate in Hull. I had a fantastic childhood and spent every possible hour playing outdoors. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised the stigma associated with growing up on an estate, just having my address on a cv could prevent me form getting an interview for a job. As I began to return to the estate as an adult I felt I wanted to capture such areas the way I knew them. I have always created art from a young age, as a child I would create observant
portraits in oil colours to store at home. I would lock myself away for hours to create works which gave me a sense of gratitude, I loved the idea putting so much time in to capturing ordinary folk who most people would not pass a glance at. During my teens I studied art and photography and choose to go down the photography route as I was drawn to the chemical processes. I loved capturing light and dabbling with light processes in the dark room. Light is just as much relevant to me in my photographic digital work, in some way I find I am drawn to hot spots of light in urban environments and love the challenge of trying to capture it. My work has also always featured people and the everyday in someway. Whether it be places people pass through, live or meet, I love conversations, possessions, lifestyles, repetition and the ordinary.
It wasn’t until studying for my MA that I found my calling. I combined my love of youth and social work in to my art practise. Previously I had battled with the purpose of creating art and often thought of it as something produced for the “white cube” to be observed in an almost exploitative, disconnected manner. Studying for my MA helped me to connect my experiences and memories in to my works. I now know that I want to create works that are observational and feature real ways of life. When I began creating more honest art in response to people and place I felt a sense of forfillness for creating the works and a place and purpose for displaying them. I like to think that my art often gives people a voice or encourages people to interact with their environment more, reflect on their lives more or allows people to take time to appreciate and notice their environment around them.
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What is your creative process like? I usually get drawn to a place or project from either a passing glance on public transport, snippets of passing conversations or historical references to a place or memories from my upbringing. I usually have an idea or area that I want the work with and I allow a lot of time in that area of interest for the project to develop and adopt its own direction. I rarely know what the end result is going to be and just keep creating whist investigating a project. Slowly I find a topic will emerge and take its own form. Often a project can take over a year to complete with many mini collections of works being produced a long the way. My works always start in a photographic form and often develop using screen printing processes and oils. Often they remain as photographic prints. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art in contemporary culture captures the now, be that thought processes, interests and trends, ways of life, politics, race, sex, family, humanity or environment. It is much more about abstracts of passionate thoughts, pauses in daily routine and discarded conversation, news and trends. Art is a pleasing picture in Ikea, a You Tube video of cats and works sold at Sotherbys. Art in contemporary culture is all that is happening around us now which is discarded tomorrow. Artists are anyone and everyone and art is open to all principles from iPhones to oil paintings. In this current political climate art is un editable, uncontrolled and easily accessible to all due to social media platforms. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I would like to be recognised as being similar to Stephen Willats for his ability to respond to real life and the everyday and make the work truly relevant to its subject and place of creation. Tracey Emin for my purity and
ability to reflect and include personal responses, memories and feeling and such raw passion in to her works. And Edward Hopper for his ability to capture light and emotion in everyday scenes, making people see beauty in areas they do not know. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Hull has a vast underground art scene which has recently been put under the microscope due to gaining the title of City of Culture 2017 and some interesting work and artists are emerging. However overall it is not known for its arts, the university and galleries don’t feature contemporary practises and the town itself, due to location doesn’t attract a lot of tourism. Hull is often on the receiving end of poor articles and press but to me, it is the close net, down trodden, left behind abstracts of Hull which are the most influential and fascinating. Each area has it’s interesting history, people and lifestyles. The people of Hull are the art with unique characters and truly honest and brilliant outlooks and experience of life. Hull has a lot to say to the arts world… watch this space.
What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? I would advise people to have an idea of what they want from the arts before they enter it. If people have a romanticised idealism of becoming the next worshipped artist who’s work will sell for millions, then they may be delusional. However if they have something to say, express or simply capture, be it personal, political or environmental then the Arts is the perfect the platform for theem. What are your future plans? I feel I am at the beginning of my career and still finding my feet. I hope to home in on more areas of interest to capture the city where I live and potentially take my skills to other towns to create similar responses. In have worked in numerous youth worker roles in the past and would like to start some sort of art programme with young people to try to engage more community art work and projects for young people in Hull. This would bring together all my skills and interests. I hope to continue to do guest lecturing within universities and perhaps will consider completing a PHD in Fine Art as I really miss having time to research areas of interest and take time to reflect on my work.
Jukka-Pekka Jalovaara Jyväskylä, Finland
For me there is no such a thing called still-image. Whenever you see an image again, it’s different – and that’s nice. From this point of view it was very easy to jump to the train of cinematography. During a very hollow slice of time you think nothing moves, but it’s only imagination. If something is moved inside you – it’s art. You only don’t know what was it, that moved you, exactly. That’s magic.
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When, how and why started your art practice? As far as I can remember, visual world has been the thing in my life. Drawing was naturally the first, but soon I also started sculpting small animal figures from found wooden pieces - I was about ten years old at the time. Very clearly I remember the tremendous joy and proudness what I had just made. Also exact feel of the touch and smell of different materials and moments are burned in in my memory. With no special effort I can visually wander places in my childhood remembering totally lively details with overwhelming tension and concertration. Probably I have 3D photographic memory. My father was skilled and enthusiasted amateur photographer and also cinematographer having Super 8 mm camera. He made selfmade films, edited them and then arranged shows in our living room - that was really something ! Deep inside me there is that magical and overwhelming sound of analogical projector. I starred in one of these shortfilms. The plot was that I hijacked our car ( being 5 years old that time ) started driving heading to our summer cottage. Then suddenly I lost the control of the car and wrecked it.Next scene was shot at the cemetery showing a red rose on a grave
- I had died. During these shows he projected also various Disney films and Tarzan adventures.In order to get the rawfilm developed it had to be send from Finland to Western Germany - this operation by mail took six weeks. ----Few years I spent hopeless time studying achitecture and scenography having no satisfactory emotional response. Inside me, I found out having a tremendous pressure of pictures wanting to be expressed . Then I succeeded to get in to the School of Fine Arts having sculpture as main study. That was the goal of my heart. But elementary and nervewrecking problem in doing sculptures was, that intended piece always kept evolving - never stopped. New morning - new visions. All my efforts ended up a pile of trash and dust on the floor. I was devastated. Fluently the idea of making moving images replaced that after some years. What is your creative process like? It’s a hilarious mess. As a first rule I keep in mind that you can’t dissolve good art with analytical mind. If you can , it’s dead. In the background there needs to be some analyse, but mostly the process
has to be an adventure and an intuitive innovation of life - again and again. Second rule is that all good art is positively handling the concept of death. Then you have a good chance to succes in expressing and exploring life. Every piece needs to be your last. Here you need extraordinary bravery and stamina. Only this way your work can evolve. If you are not ready for this, just forget it. Do something else. When I am editing a piece, in the midst of the flow of the images , the flow of words is always present. I can’t stop it - it just comes. I wish I could stop it for a while. When there is the word in the midst of a picture, it needs to be heightened, elevated to the same level or higher than the picture. This means poetry. And with the picture and poetics , they need to have different rhytms according to each other. Some kind of intervalls between them. Only this way they can co-operate and create something new , something which is luminescent and possible hologram of emotion.Here I must add, that my favourite poems are Haiku’s - the master level of words forming the image. It is like having a satisfactory dialog between you and your material. All my goal is having an expression with poetic substance. I don’t like facts - I like emotions.
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But there you have a bad chance of being jammed, repeating the same again and again - it is a risky business. Your only saviour is, if in all it’s depth the emotion is vivid and self experienced and through this emotion the spectator can feel the precense of the maker. Actually, you have to be ready to die. You have to be ready to loose it all. . Everything in art has been made , but you can give yourself as a gift to the others. That would be the most beautiful thing to do. I have the pleasure of having as co-creator Samuli Kristian Saastamoinen, a musician having his diploma in cinematography. This combination is vital. For my pleasure, he has his intentions as a musician in free -based music. Vibrations like progressive, free-jazz and intuitive improvisation are more than you could dream of for co-operation. For about four years has it been like this now. Special notification is that the music needs to be created as much as possible from the personal ideas and intuition of the musician - it needs to be tied to his ideas of the best and most vivid outcome you can get. Now the obstacle of constant and disturbing evolvement of sculptures found it’s solution in the realms of film. As Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr said after having finished his masterpiece “The Turin Horse“ (2011). “It’s all there - nothing is to be said anymore “. And he stopped doing films. After having watched this astounding , visionary film it’s easy to agree with him. There is a touch of an angel in this film. As Tarkovsky said : “Doing film is sculpting time“. The Turin Horse is all about time and all about a poem. At the end the maker might disappear and that would be just fine.
In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture?
How would you describe the art scene in your area?
Only love can be the meaning of art. Todays mode of contemporary art is far out phenomenon for ordinary people. Probably less than 20 % of population is interested at all about art. Music and litterature are which has the greatest response in peoples everyday life. And some movies which succeed to handle society’s collective traumas. Visual art usually comes to peoples mind only then, when they want to oppose some public project or one spesific work which does’nt suite their attitude or everyday comfort of life. Usually people want to live their life uninterrupted.
Here are living and working only people who enjoy so much countryside that they remain here. The scene is 95 % in the capital , Helsinki. Also the same amount of artists live there - many hundred kilometers from Jyväskylä. Simple fact is that there are most possibilities of getting side jobs for artists to make a living. About five percents of all artists in Finland gets the living in selling their art solely. Contempory, internationally renowned art is seen here through internet.
Of course there are some succesful sitespesific public works which are cherished. Though, there has been lately an uprise of doing art in a social context - that is nice and leaves some hope in binding art into a society and healing single persons troubled lives. I hope more and more people get the chance to get in contact their emotional persona. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. Well, I name two. First is above mentioned Béla Tarr. Hungarian filmmaker, which last film covers , as he said , all. The whole world is depicted such a way that it lacks nothing. His empathy to the characters and their life of Hungarian rural outskirts remains in my mind. Second one is West - African photographer Roger Ballen. Here, also Ballen’s empathy for the southafrican outcast is prominent. His imaginative black-and white photographs reveals something very basic of humanity.
What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? Make sure that you are fool enough to be devoted in doing arts by all your heart. When the unbearable moments come , and they will come to every artist you are not derailed to misery and selfpity. Believing oneself and willingly giving credits to oneself is the base - no one else does that for you. Emotionally this job is probably one of the hardest ever. If you are ready for this, you can also gain some of the finest moments in life you never believed. Practically, one needs to have the ability to recognise what’s the strength in own art and in other’s work. That is the way to get developed in doing and thinking. If something is moved inside you – it’s art. You only don’t know what was it, that moved you, exactly. That’s magic. What are your future plans? I do have one plan - I would like to be a tree, one hundred years old.
Rebecca Key Liverpool, UK
Rebecca Key has exhibited internationally, and worked as an art director in the film and television industry. Using objects to examine the relationship between artist and gallery space, character and narrative, Key explores myths that surround the creative process within the institution, and other specific sites.
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When, how and why started your art practice? I went to art school in Edinburgh, completed an MFA then started working in film and television. I learnt all the skills in the industry that I previously lacked to realise the installation projects I wanted to make, so with these new abilities I was able to undertake more successful projects. Funding from Arts Council England for my first large installation was a big deal and let me achieve the best work I possibly could have, with assistance from a fantastic team. What is your creative process like? It parallels with film and tv art department set design, construction and dressing. I use props to portray narrative, often absent characters and alluding to what has already happened or what might happen next. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Everyone takes in art everyday, we’re surrounded by photography, music, writing, adverts, on and offline: pop culture is pulsating and it’s an exciting time to be living, I think. Critical thinking has also increased with the amount of generated imagery and platforms for debate: from people inanely slagging celebrities off, to campaigning and rallying support for people who really need it. People are surprisingly generous with time, care and money when they see real reason. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. Jerry Dammers, Dario Argento, Doris Stokes How would you describe the art scene in your area? I think the U.K. is accessible but often could be moreso both physically and theoretically. Anthony Gormley’s work on a beach near here has been embraced so intensely by everyone that has helped make institutions less scary and subsequently art museum visitors less pious or furtive. I tend to keep my head down, talking with people I genuinely like and want to speak to, not those who I’ve been told ‘I really should’ or ‘really have to’. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? I was told by a close artist friend that for every twenty application opportunities you apply for, you’ll get approximately one. Then after that one, another, and another. It’s true, and that kept me going. Just keep sending those fuckers in. It’s not because your work ‘isn’t any good’ its just that you don’t fit the curatorial set up or the funding remit at that time. Most importantly, get a job that pays you, to support your practice, hopefully one that will retain your interest for a long time. Start at the bottom and work hard. Also: never, ever, measure success. What are your future plans? Staying alive, I had one stroke that’s changed my life, so I’m not planning on having a second anytime soon.
Kevin Killen Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, UK
In my work, light plays a role in translating ephemeral movement into tangible sculptural forms. The series of light compositions are created through collaborations between performance artists, dancers and myself. My role is that of observer and photo-documenter, studying patterns that are created when the artist performs. I then create site-specific neon light sculptures and installations that are the aftermath of our combined experience. In this way, the static sculptures embody the transients of the performance. The performances take place in a darkened space, where the dancers or performance artists hold lights. As their performance begins, I photograph their choreography using the camera as a drawing tool; long-exposures that track the staccato beams of light and their gestures over time. The result is photographic drawings that trace the lines of their actions; as the camera moves with the dancers, accidents occur, adding spontaneity and playfulness to the drawings. In a sense, the line drawings are a re-enactment of the performances, of which the end results extend beyond the original performance both as an archive and a vehicle for creating the neon work. The weightless, suspended floating and free-standing neon forms are unique compositions that exist independently or with the dancers. In some cases the performers dance alongside the neon, and in other cases they are displayed alone. The viewer can move around the sculptural works, imagining the path of the performers’ bodies and our collaboration within the space. Within the installations, an important part of the process for me is to record the timing of the dancers’ breath. I correlate the different inhalation rhythms to match the sequence of the neon lights as they turn on and off, embodying the real-time kinetics of the original performance, activating the space with dark pauses in one instance and bright glows the next. In some ways, I’m questioning how far the human emotion and gesture of performance can be captured in my final neon sculptures. Creating the neon is a solitary exploration, a fragmented memory of the now ended performance. Some essence of the original performance remains in the final sculptural works, but there is also something that is created new in the final neons. The neon are luminous, fleeting moments, echoing the sensitivity, gestures and emotions initially conveyed during the performances. They are metaphors of past and present; maps of the artists’ performance, yet symbolic of our collaborations.
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When, how and why started your art practice? I’ve been working as a professional artist for over fourteen years now. As a child I was interested in drawing and as I grew older this grew into an interest in drawing with light and the ways that I could do that. I suppose that art was a way for me to explore and indulge my curiosity. What is your creative process like? I’m interested in movement and the stories that they tell: how that moment in time can be captured. I document movements using long-exposure photography, creating light drawings. I use the drawings as source material and “translate” the drawings into neon sculptures. To date I’ve mainly exhibited the final process, the neon sculptures, but I’m investigating the light drawings as works in their own right rather than just part of a process. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? The meaning of art is so subjective that there’s no definitive answer to that question. Some artists mimic contemporary culture in their work, some use it to challenge. Art can be socially engaged or referencing the mundane. Essentially art can be or can mean anything and that’s the wonderful thing about it. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I’m not sure that it’s helpful to be compared to people, but three artists that I admire are: Keith Sonnier; David Smith; and Paolo Scirpa. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Northern Ireland has a history of artist-led ventures and the arts scene is still heavily reliant on artists and curators creating their own opportunities. The arts here has faced heavy cuts year-on-year and comparative to the rest of the UK there is very little commercial market. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? I’d say that you need to be aware of the sector that you want to work in. Very few artists can support themselves solely through their practice, so you need to be happy to either work part-time in an un-related area or to split your creative practice. Being clear about what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it is a great thing - a five year plan sounds arduous, but knowing where you want to be will help you get there. What are your future plans? I’ve been concentrating on researching for a new body of work, so soon I’ll get to focus on the actual fabrication. It’s hard sometimes to decide which opportunities are worthwhile, but time is finite so I’m trying to be more selective.
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Geoff Latz Bradford, UK
I took an avid interest in ‘upscaling’ when my first piece ‘Anne Galleon’, a ship which was inspired by those found in Spain’s 16th Century fleet, was exhibited at Cartwright Hall, Bradford in 2009. From there my work has evolved and I have exhibited throughout the UK. I like to create things that are inspiring and that catch people’s interest and imagination and some of my pieces are kinetic or use LED lights. One of my passions is history and I take much inspiration from this and the great minds of the past when creating my work. I like to make things that have an educational value, to inspire people of all ages as I feel we all have the ability to create within us. I like to create art, not just for art’s sake, but to create something that tells a story.
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When, how and why you started your art practice? I am a Bradford based artist with a background in engineering. I specialise in the area called ‘Upscaling’ and create artwork mainly from unwanted materials, that have become surplus to requirements and would otherwise go to waste. This benefits the enviroment which is important to me. I come from a very large family, I’m the 12 youngest of 13 children so money was scarce and we made our own entertainment. I have been creative since I was a young boy and I’ve always enjoyed making things I suppose as a way of escape. Having an inquisitive mind, I would use my imagination to create all kinds of things from various bits and pieces around me, so my eventual progression into Upscaling came as second nature. It was not until about eight years ago that I began taking things more seriously. This came about after a friend of mine told me a story about how you need to “set your sail to get to the other side of your destination in life”. That inspired me to create a Galleon based on those found in Spain’s 16th Centuary fleet. This was made from reclaimed materials: copper, tin, aluminium, steel plate. It also contains mechanised cannons made from copper pipe and LED lights. It took 1000 hours to create and is approx 1 meter square in size. This piece was exhibited at Cartwright Hall, Bradford in 2009. From there my work has evolved and I have exhibited throughout the UK. Until recently I used my garage at home as a small workshop- after a full day’s work I would come home and lose myself in my creations until late into the evening. What is your creative process like? As an Upscaling artist I work predominantly in various metals, i.e. copper, steel, wire etc, but use whatever reclaimed materials are necessary to create my artwork. My work mainly consists of sculptures but I have also produced various pieces of wall art, often with pins and wire. I like to create things that are inspiring and that catch people’s interest and imagination and some of my pieces are kinetic or use LED lights. One of my
passions is history and I take much inspiration from this and the great minds of the past, e.g. Leonardo da Vinci, when creating my work. Much of my work is based on historic events and civilisations, but I also like to use satire, as in my piece “Fat Cats Bank”, or hidden meanings in my work as in “Mayan Totem Pole” and “The Oculist”. I like to make things that have an educational value, to inspire people of all ages as I feel we all have the ability to create within us. I create art, not just for art’s sake, but to create something that tells a story and causes the viewer to stand and stare. I sometimes collaborate with another artist, and we share ideas and techniques, and I find this sharpens the creative process. When I create a piece of work I think about the story that I want to tell, and spend time researching my subject. I then consider the materials and aesthetics needed as these play an important role in getting my message across to the viewer. However, occasionally this works in reverse, as sometimes I acquire the materials first which then inspire me to create a piece around them. The colour, texture and material type also help to add depth and mistique. It’s amazing how you can take an unwanted everyday item and turn it into a work of art. It gives me great pleasure to watch people trying to work out what the various components are, as they are used in a way for which they were never intended. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think an artist’s job is to be a narrator of all that’s around them. To help bring enlightenment, opening up other thoughts to those around them. To ask profound questions that others wouldn’t ask, - the “why’s” of life. To plant a seed of thought to help people get to their own conclusions. To bring people together, it should be a universal a language. It needs to be profound yet have a simplistic message and a feeling of synergy. Simplicity and complexity in equal measure. I also believe art is an essential aid maintaining in mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. It can help people to express their emotions in a way that words can-
not and is undoubtlessly theraputic. Often life throws us many blows and we go on as best we can often keeping things bottled up, but there is something powerful about being to draw out real raw emotion from someone who is in silent torment. One such example is the “1in4” Exhibition I took part in recently at the Hockney Gallery in Saltaire, which was to promote Mental Health awareness. Some of the artists exhibiting had expressed their own feelings in various mediums and you could see and feel their pain, it was was extremely powerful. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I like to aim high and dare to aspire to be compared to 3 of the Greats: Michelangelo. He could see the beauty in the materials and could bring so much life to inanimate material, that you could almost interact with it, e.g. his statue of David. Leonardo da Vinci. A total genius and multi-talented in many areas : painting, science, sculpture, inventor. He was far ahead of this time. Antony Gormley. His sculptures are complex and yet have a simplicity that can speak to everyone. How would you describe the art scene in your area? While there are some brilliant artists doing amazing work, I think sometimes it can be too conservative. I think the subject matter could tackle important issues more head on, rather than skirting the issue. I still think there is a North/South divide with regards to support for the Arts, both financially and organisationally. This is starting to improve however, slowly but surely. London is still considered to be the centre of Art but the North has a lot to offer. David Hockney helped to put us on the map, but there’s still a lot of snobbery in Art. There seems to be no real outlet for Upscaling Art, for example, a few years ago I put some work into an exhibition, but the Curator couldn’t catagorize my work, so I was placed alone in a separate room
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whilst other exhibits were displayed together. I took this as a compliment in a way, as my work differs greatly from the mainstream. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? You have to be totally dedicated and focused and be prepared to take a lot of rejection as well as praise. You must keep going and push the boundaries, constantly developing new ideas and skills. Finance is important unfortunately, to cover your everyday outgoings as well as for for material costs etc, as even artists have got to eat! There’s plenty of funding out there, but you often need to specific in what you’re asking for so take time to write your plans and requests. Make sure you answer any questions asked of you, don’t be vague and skirt the issue as this can cause any would-be investor to put you straight onto the “NO” pile. Networking is vital, as you can make some great contacts, but be selective when choosing the right people to help you to further your career or vision. Be specific in your goals and aims, what you need for the immediate and for the future. Set targets and deadlines if you must, and plan to ensure things gets done. Keep your eye on sites showing forthcoming events or opportunities that are relevant to your skills or artform. You must never give up on your dreamsgive it your all and don’t be half-hearted. Say what you want to say, be bold! What are your future plans? I intend to continue developing new techniques, ideas and skills, to keep pushing my boundaries to stretch myself. I’d like to do a series of work based on the origins of life, and I’m revisiting a concept to develop art for the modern era. I intend to run workshops, working with specific groups to help them build their confidence and self-esteem. To teach them new skills whether they use these purely as a hobby for relaxation or improved wellbeing, or for furthering their own career. In my opinion, if you help others you are also helping yourself.
James Mccoll South West England,UK
I am a visual artist, filmmaker and writer whose work mixes performance, installation and film. As a visual artist, my work focuses on turning passive experiences into active ones. I focus on minor life experiences that are largely dismissed or forgotten about yet say a lot about our collective lives. I use film as a way to engage with larger social issues through simplistic and sometimes abstract actions that aim to transform the audience from passive viewers to actively engaged ones. In Celebrating Aging I want to tell you about his Nan. I want to show you the life of this strong, self-reliant, eighty-six year old woman. I want to celebrate age. Having discovered my family archive of super-8 home movies, I have retraced the different parts of my grandmotherâ€™s life; stitching together family holidays, gatherings and present day interviews. The piece explores her coming to grips with deteriorating health, and how she reflects upon life through these gathered memories. This is a celebratory film, it is not mourning the end of her life, but sharing her thoughts with the privilege of hindsight. The work is an attempt to talk about our cultural fear of ageing. There is joy in old age and nanny Small is living proof. The project is a twenty minute film and installation that is broken into two halves. When it is being exhibited I collect locally sourced material to re-create my Nanâ€™s living room (or at least a similar set up) and the two films plays simultaneously. Next to the couch is a small tin of biscuits and photo album, something that is both important to my Nan and the films. The two films a mix of super 8 footage that was filmed over a series of family holidays and gatherings many years ago and interviews with my Nan from the present day. The two films show different parts of my grandmotherâ€™s journey from London to Devon.
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When, how and why started your art practice? Originally I got a place studying Illustration with Southampton Solent University but I changed to film at the last minute. I’ve always been interested in film but not necessarily its conventional form. Looking back, my practice is the natural conclusion to what I was doing during the last year of my degree, I wanted to pursue film in some form or another but I became less and less interested in the film industry and the production process. I wanted to make films that were less conventional both in form and content which didn’t really fit with what was expected from my course. I became more interested in what I could achieve as an individual video artist than as a film maker who was a part of a group. It’s kind of selfish really and I suspect it’s because I’m somewhat of a control freak. In the larger sense I am an artist because being creative is the only type of work I enjoy. What is your creative process like? It depends on the project. Although I often work with video I’ve started moving more and more towards mixing video, instal-
lation and performance. With Celebrating Aging it started because my Nan’s poor health was something that my family had been dealing with and talking about a lot. I tend to hoard items and things of interest, in this case I had been given a load of old Super 8 footage that my family had recorded in the 70’s and 80’s. Sometimes two unrelated things come together and an project falls in to place unexpectedly, I think it’s really about keeping a constant eye out for things and an open mind to possible projects, films or otherwise. In your opinion, what does painting mean in contemporary culture? When I think of painting the first thing that comes to mind is framed gallery work which, honestly, seems slightly outdated in terms of reflecting anything that’s happening in my life or modern life but I’d love to be proven wrong and pointed in the direction of an artist doing something really interesting in the medium! I find live art and other visual art more exciting right now, stuff that can engage with an audience. I find painting can be very passive; preferably I want an active audience.
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Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. That’s tough but I’d say Billy Childish as he’s just so prolific in so many different creative outlets. I was given a DVD called ‘The real history of the Chatham Super 8 Cinema’ which is a collection of short Super 8 films he and a group of friends made as a side project. Funnily enough I ended up copying their DIY approach to transferring Super 8 footage to a digital format when I made Celebrating Aging, which is to just film the footage projected – it seems obvious I know but it wasn’t until he talked about it that it clicked. It saved me a lot of money and I wouldn’t have been able to make the film otherwise. Another is Josie Long. I think there’s a common link in this list which is that I like people who refuse to be labelled as one thing. I’m a huge fan of everything she does! She did some short films in the last couple of years (Let’s Go Swimming, Romance and Adventure) which have really stuck with me. Lastly Jon Sanders, he mentored me in my final year at Solent and his minimalist approach to film making is the one that has stuck with me. He helped start a film movement called the Belgrade Manifesto which is definitely worth a read. How would you describe the art scene in your area? It depends on what kind of art you like. Generally I would say it’s strong, especially for live art in Exeter. I recently covered the Plymouth Art Weekender for VASW and that really opened my eyes to what was happening across the county. There’s a lot going on, you just have to know where to look. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? Supposedly when giving advice you are giving advice to your younger self, with that in mind I would say that you need to work on projects constantly and not just apply to briefs or commission work. All the work I have had success with has been work that was developed without a specific end in mind. What are your future plans? I want to continue exhibiting art in spaces that don’t usually host it. I’ve tried to take art out of conventional exhibition spaces and put it in spaces where none gallery goers will see it. I think I will be mixing performance, video and installation more as it produces the more exciting results at the moment. With my theatre group First Line Theatre, I’ve created a show called Basic Space that deliberately takes people out of the theatre and invites people who are not a part of the art world to experience a performance; we walk through city centres, parks and other regular public areas not designed for theatre. We have these two big and clunky astronauts that walk through these town centres that really make people look up and pay attention. We will be performing Basic Space throughout 2017, in the world of film I’ve been working on some projects that have started to be shown at film festivals which is can be a long process but rewarding. Celebrating Aging has been accepted into several film festivals including VAULT Film Festival which will screen it in February.
Campbell Mcconnell London, UK
The aim for the work is not to create a lie within the art, or a false vision, but to use many different truths to create a new, combined truth. The truths within the work can be experienced and explored in many different ways depending on the audienceâ€™s knowledge of the content in the work. By bringing two or more separate sets of information or objects together I am able to create a new situation that would not have existed without the assemblage of those materials. My understanding of these materials dictates whether or not the different substances work together. Sometimes compositions of information are supported by content I receive from various internet sources. Factual and fictitious narratives are employed to make the audience consider how much they should trust and rely on what they are told. The work can be considered a deception, a very subtle interconnection of past and present information. Imagery is important when creating false narratives, but sound has also played a part in my attempts to manipulate memories and experiences. Engaging with an audience in an emotive way is important because in order for the audience to trust the work they might have to feel emotionally connected to it.
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When, how and why started your art practice? I have always been around art, growing up with artistic parents. I was taken to see lots of art that as a child I did not quite understand, but from these experiences, it taught me to question the justification and reasoning of artworks. Only now being older can I look back on these experiences in galleries and realize the extensive possibilities of creation that can occur from my own actions with in my own artwork. What is your creative process like? It’s hard to pin point a particular step by step process. But I would usually start out with some kind of subject matter, object or image. From there I would try and tackle what it is that really interests me about the history of said subject. Sometimes the object is a found one that would appear in the everyday. Other times it’s a very simple subject that I can relate to on either a small or big scale. Its probably something that has been a part of my life for a long time. I then have a realisation period where I tackle said subject through thinking and devising. Once I have figured out this I then begin and attempt to produce something meaningful and relatable from this realization of the subject or image. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art can be a response directly towards contemporary culture, art can be used as a tool to influence and shed advice or opinion on to
a situation. Art can communicate and connect people from different times. It can give value and importance to fundamental understanding, through stories images and sound. As a child, to view art in a gallery I feel is just as important as being told about the world through school. Art gives you a perspective on the world that is not completely forced upon you as it would be in school by a teacher. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. I wouldn’t necessarily like to be directly compared to another artist, but artists that may have influenced me other than my peers are Lucy McCormick, Sophie Calle and John Baldessari. These artists may or may not have inspired my work however they are artists that I admire and follow. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Living in London, there is a wide range of different art worlds. Recently I have been delving into and performing at cabaret events and live art spaces, this is a very friendly and welcoming art environment that is completely different from your white cube type private views and gallery openings. But there is truly a lot going on all the time. This makes it difficult to see everything. What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? I would say go to lots of art galleries. But most of all stay aware of what’s
going on around you, day to day. You never know when you might be inspired. I feel it’s always at the most unexpected moment. You might be on the toilet or on your way to work. keep your eyes open to opportunities. If you can create opportunities for yourself by collaborating with other artists, then this can help build Relationships and maintain a positive basis for art networking. What are your future plans? Plans to continue to develop my practice and keep an open mind to all mediums and ideas, with regards to creating. Most recently Performance art is something that I have been perusing. A previous work, called ‘Ikea extravaganza’ was performed at Bones and Pearl Studios. This work is going to be slightly re invented into Ikea art school. The participants will be invited to enroll into the art school before they engage with any of the works and will receive a timetable. The work should critique and question the current orthodoxies and suggest ideas for the future of arts education. In a political climate in which arts education is being systematically attacked by the current government (from primary, secondary gallery education, FE and HE) this should be a chance to highlight the value and potential for arts teaching. The event is intended to question what an art school is or could be. The event will take place at the new Switch building at Tate Modern for the week beginning the 9th of January 2017.
Abi Miller Farnham, UK
My practise spans a range of mediums, including sculpture, photography and moving image. The concept behind the work I make often incorporates themes of the body and its relation to architectural space, most recently in the form of sensory experiences and interactions with objects. My current interests have developed towards more specific ideas about space and the boundaries we set ourselves in order to connect with and understand it. I like to make the viewer question what they are seeing, and provoke a speculative response. My work has recently involved a lot of repetition either in making or in imagery, and it is something I like to use in order to accentuate and radicalise the presentation of the work, so that viewer becomes more immersed.
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When, how and why started your art practice? I started practising art because i wasn’t very good at it. Drawing was something i always wished i could do, so I started practising constantly. I became obsessed with drawing and painting and studied Fine Art at A-Level, Foundation and now currently BA level. My practise has developed from drawing and painting and is now sculpture and moving image orientated as my knowledge of the subject has developed into more specific interests. I have a fascination with movement and gestures, however engaged or disengaged, and finding ways of presenting these movements using different mediums. What is your creative process like? My process isn’t really very regimented, i am quite disorganised in terms of my
thought process, and ideas usually just come to me very randomly. Most often i think of ideas when i’m doing menial tasks that aren’t artistically related, i think that’s when my brain is the most relaxed, when i’m not trying to force ideas out. Although sometimes it’s when i’m reading or writing about other artists that i suddenly get an idea about how to solve a problem within my own work. My practise is very much influenced by the things i find when reading. I think making bad work is also a good thing, as frustrating as it is at the time, it is often the mistakes i make that then help me the most when i am trying to resolve a new piece of work. I learn a lot from my failures, as it forces me to take a new approach. Art is a very complicated subject as there are an abundance of ways to do things, and problems will always arise, but developing abilities to solve those problems is one of the
more rewarding aspects of making art. I believe i have quite an academic and logical way of thinking, which isn’t too helpful when i’m in a creative industry, but it is sometimes beneficial when i need to collect my thoughts together. In your opinion, what does painting mean in contemporary culture? Because i study Fine Art, it often allows me to be very open minded when considering medium, as i don’t like to confine myself to just one. Painting, to me, doesn’t just mean picking up a paintbrush and recording a photorealistic landscape or portrait, it communicates to me a way of working that is focussed on gestures and actions and attention to details that aren’t always figuratively represented or limited to two-dimensions. I think in contemporary culture this is very much true, with artists such as Anish Kapoor and his work ‘Shoot-
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ing into the Corner’. This work can be considered painting on a broad sense, as a material is interacting with a surface. Red wax being fired at a wall is just a more powerful form of gesture that can be associated with painting. Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. Lynda Benglis is an artist i love, her poured polyurethane pieces have had a massive influence on me since i’ve been studying my degree and her process is so fascinating and well executed. My work has been very processed based in the past and it is something i would like to return to. Emma Critchley is also someone who inspires me. She recently gave a talk at my university and her film work in particular is so mesmerising, it is about the breath and its limits in the underwater space. It makes me consider the constraints
we as humans expose ourselves to and how these limits are often presented and exploited in contemporary art. Pippilotti Rist’s installations are also a huge inspiration, as i am working with projection currently. Her ability to completely immerse the viewer and create a sensory environment that transports the viewer from the gallery into her own constructed world is something that really interests me. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I am currently in my final year at UCA Farnham and am surrounded by art students most of the time, so the art scene is quite lively. Everyone is at the beginning of their creative careers so there is a lot of positivity and ambitious projects. Farnham is a quiet town, but it is close to London so access to the art scenes there are very available.
What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? I think being open minded and open to criticism is very important, as well as experimenting a lot with different ways of making. There is no one right way to do things, so try every way. Also, embrace mistakes, because they will be the things you learn the most from. What are your future plans? I am very interested in curation, and i love curating my own exhibitions and want to gain some experience in curating other artists. I currently work at my university as a gallery assistant and have made contacts with this job, it is something i want to continue when i graduate.
Sid & Jim
Jim Bicknell-Knight & Sidney Smith London, UK Sid and Jim are a London based collaboration who work in a variety of mediums including but not exclusive to performance, installation, and moving image.
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When, how and why did you start your art practice? They say it’s easier to figure out what you don’t want to do before you figure out what you do want to do and that perfectly sums up the ‘why’ part; this is the thing that did work when nothing else did. ‘When’ would only be 2 years ago when we met at university and realized that we were spending so much time assisting with each other’s projects, so much so that we might as well just put the work under one name; a mutually beneficial decision and also the answer to the ‘how’ aspect of the question. How has your style changed over the years? We’ve never really had a style in the conventional sense of the word. Usually when style is discussed it’s normally with reference to aesthetics and there’s nothing that really visually ties our work together. However, our ideas that lie beneath the works have taken their own course. Initially we were thinking about notions of connectivity and the distancing effects of technology but at present we’re doing a lot of research into fictitious characters or events and how art and artists are represented within popular culture. What is the most challenging part about working together? Geography and time seem to be the main contenders; carving out an occasion when we’re both in the same place is a difficult thing to manage since outside of our practice we do in fact operate autonomously! Name three artists you admire. William T Cost, Millicent Place, Ryan Gander How would you describe the art scene in your area? We live in Wood Green in north London, there’s not a huge amount within walking distance from us but because of the Piccadilly line we have quick access to most of the big galleries
in central London. On a more local scale there are some really interesting project spaces and galleries near by. 12ø Collective are based in Stoke Newington, they’re a really ambitious project space that have had some excellent shows/projects over the last few years. There is also the Bomb Factory in Archway and Furtherfield gallery in Finsbury Park, both of which are definitely worth checking out! What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? We guess just be friendly; try and chat to as many people as you can and keep an open mind. In our opinion, the best way to get through any issues you have with your work is through conversation, regardless of whether it’s a conceptual, physical, or even just logistical issue, chances are that someone can help you. Also, a trip to the pub or getting some free drinks at a gallery opening with your friends never hurts!! In your opinion, What role does the artist have in society?? Mmm that’s a tough one. In truth, we don’t know a conclusive answer to that question; society seems to move into unknown territory with such speed that it’s hard to pin point an exact moment where many things, including the arts and the artist fit. Maybe it’s just to offer people the chance to experience something that may alter how they see the world around them, whether it’s a crumpled up ball of A4 paper or a giant slab of concrete, art (and artists) can help people punctuate the world around them with Easter eggs; realizing that everyday objects have the potential to be art objects makes the world a little more exciting.
Erika Stearly Pennsylvania, USA
Convinced that contemporary realities are complex enough to sustain multiple approaches to painting, I integrate representational image-making with abstractionâ€™s emphasis on materiality and mark-making to depict the clutter of household objects. As their titles suggest, these paintings depict actual residences, balancing an impulse to faithfully render the objects against the emphasis on the hand of the artist. The coexistence of abstraction and representation, along with the liminal hybrid of the two, serve to orient the viewer, inviting them to construct their own narrative of the scene.
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Briefly describe the work you do. I have an ongoing series that depicts the domestic spaces where people live, a few of which are featured here. I am also the Creator and Director of an interactive painting installation called Take a Painting, which travels around and encourages a curious public to engage with art and art-making. Hundreds of small paintings on paper are displayed on the wall in a grid, along with instructions for viewers to help themselves to a painting. Art supplies are provided for participants to create their own paintings, which I embed back into the installation for other people to take. And within the last two years, I have really embraced collage-making, both as something that enhances the paintings and as a way to make something besides paintings. When, how and why started your art practice? There was never a decision to start a studio practice. I’ve been drawing and painting things as far back as I can remember; this is something I will always be compelled to do. The materials that I use and the scale of the work that I make are influenced by practicalities. I started working with water based paint when I started teaching water based painting classes. I developed a traveling studio kit so I can make small paintings in bars and coffeehouses when I don’t have access to a studio space. I started making paintings on paper because they are easier to store than paintings on canvas. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? Not especially. I consider myself to be a painter, because the work that I made primarily deals with materials, traditions, and dialogues within the discipline of painting. My motivation for making work emphasizes art-making as a daily meditative practice, rather than communicating a message to the world. How has your work changed in the past years? The first painting I made of an interior space is hanging in my living room, I’m sentimental about it. In the 6 or 7 years since then, I’ve made hundreds of paintings of domestic spaces. I can see an evolution in scale and materials, and the content is more nuanced now. How would you describe the art scene in your area? It’s really eclectic. I live in a rural part of Pennsylvania with a strong folk art tradition, but I’m a quick drive away from the cosmopolitan art scenes in Philadelphia and New York City. Strong regional university arts programs attract young people, but there is a close-knit community of local artists who have been making work for decades and have such great insights. Since it is a rural place, it can be hard to spontaneously encounter other artists, but there is always the internet… like I said, it’s eclectic.
In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Within a contemporary context, I think art is generated by a large group of individuals in order to be appropriated by and adapted to the needs of individuals in a large group. Without the distance of time to say why a creative work is or is not significant, we spend our time trying to assign meaning to them or trying to contextualize them. I don’t believe art is limited to the things we preserve in museums, either; food packaging in grocery stores, Halloween costumes, and children’s book illustrations are examples of the influence of art on contemporary culture. What are your future plans? 2017 will be a busy year for me. Take a Painting will be traveling to several states in the US, there are two or three solo exhibitions of the domestic spaces scheduled, and I am looking forward to debuting a few hundred new collages next spring. There might also be a printmaking project and a mural commission. I’m feeling optimistic.
Thomas Walker Loughborough, UK
The intention of my work has been to investigate a representation of Masculinity in order to portray the impossibility of its physical existence in our reality. My exploration into a single point of Ideology is to create a catalytic discussion of the in-human perfection of an Ideal; a socially formed concept that exists purely theoretically and cannot be actualized in a single object or entity. To truly become what is known as Masculine the ties to a human existence, an existence of imperfection, must be lost, therefore to represent it as I have it must be beyond our understanding and capabilities, rending the need for its vulgarity. Therefore my project elicits any actions taken by an individual to become Masculine, or to be intentionally categorized within any Ideological framework to bound by its futility. I am fascinated in the human condition present in Western culture and the in-human fixation upon ideals that are pushed upon us so forcibly. Though specifically developing work in relation to Masculinity, my projectâ€™s aim is to inspire discussion around the existence of Ideology and the general fixation we as humans have in categorizing social relations in terms of Ideology. The reason behind specifically choosing Masculinity as a topic therefore has no intention of judging its position in a social context. This project is simply a means to investigate the presence of Masculinity I witness in the dominantly male orientated social structure in my context, most recently that of Loughborough University. I have used the conceptual framework of â€˜Ideology Incâ€™, a dystopian company set in the distant future as a fictional institute that has manifested Masculinity as a product to be bought and sold. The narrative of this corporate structure is a tool I have used within my project to comment on the present capitalistic affiliation of publicity and advertising shaping identity through the commodification of Ideology; I.e When buying this perfume you will become more feminine, more beautiful, more eloquent etc... Ideology Inc is a supplier that no longer requires a physical medium (a product) to be consumed indirectly in order to sell Masculinity, their product is simply Masculinity itself. Within this narrative structure there are two figures: Masculinity and The Worker. By analysing other peoples conceptions of Masculinity and relating it to my own understanding I started by representing what I found as key aspects of its make up and expressed these qualities in extreme depictions: the aggression, the sexual dominance, the hunter gatherer complex, the power within physical stature. The contradiction and impossibility of physically representing a single embodiment of Ideology, in this case Masculinity, meant that I progressed into using a fictional narrative.
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Briefly describe the work you do. I experiment through a range of different mediums to develop a commentary upon specific social structures that I identify. Although newly forming, one theme that can be consistently witnessed within my practice is the use of fictional paradigms as a way to translate meaning. I am fascinated in using the childlike relationship between the observer and the performance of a fictional entity as a rhetorical tool. When, how and why started your art practice? There is one figure I admired in particular at school that had a beautifully obscure talent of redefining Art every day. Art became a new, gorgeously odd, activity to tackle. The playfulness and sometimes ridiculousness of the tasks given to myself and other unsuspecting art students kept the entire experience light hearted and truly experimental. Throughout the general boredom that was academia, Art at this moment shone out as a vastly different way of thinking and I found that incredibly gripping. The seemingly irrational environment that was created around the subject of
Art at this stage of my schooling is in no doubt a huge contributor to the way my art practice has and will develop. Do you think of yourself as a conceptual artist? I certainly do. Each work relates to a line of enquiry and poses no realist answer. How has your work changed in the past years? One of the largest shifts within my work has been my association with the collaborative group The Reading Group. Fed up of being shown images of Marcel Duchampâ€™s Urinal in damp projection rooms we (Loughborough University students) decided to get together and discussâ€Ś stuff, democratically chosen stuff. Initially discussing literature, hence the name, we quickly moved onto to experimenting with performance. The Reading Group is still in full force and is a fantastic platform for informed and progressive Art work. The Reading Group has redefined the way I work because it has introduced me to some exceptional characters
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that have passion for what they do and a real energy for sharing that which they do. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The Art scene of Loughborough is defined by a small selection of individuals who produce within a vacancy of culture. The culture of this small market town has been swamped into destitution by the capitalistic rhetoric that has engrossed the majority of all activity within it. It feels fragmented in a way. There may be some individuals pushing for some notion of social identity but their attempts, I guess, feel over shadowed by the corporate advertising that litters every view point of the high street. This being the case in the majority of Britainâ€™s towns and cities I would say the current art scene in Loughborough is realistic by itâ€™s almost non-existence. It sits still though, like a blank canvas, waiting for someone to start experimenting. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? For me Art is a means of enjoying and participating in the complexity and unquantifiability of reality. The value systems placed onto an object within contemporary culture is defined by that objects susceptibility to categorisation and of economic reduction: if that object can be summarized conceptually and made rational it can be packaged and shipped as knowledge as a tool to advance an individualâ€™s social standing. Art is a detachment from this. There will always be those structures that seek to define it as an entity that lies within their control, but I believe there is no right or wrong edifice of Art within contemporary culture and that only through self-exploration within the elusive and beautifully humanistic language of Art can a meaning be constructed. What are your future plans? I like to work in a fluid context and predominantly outside so I am planning on constructing a mobile studio space from some form of pre-existing vehicle in order to travel, produce and sell Art simultaneously. Scotland is a beautiful place. I may start there.
Marissa Wedenig Vienna, Austria
The most important thing for me is the message that I want to convey. I choose the medium in which I work based on the idea, trying to find the medium that would best express it. Usually my works take on the form of paintings, films or installations. This work was an installation that used sound, found object and painting to express the outward and inward search for â€˜what is home and where is home when one has grown up between different cultures or countriesâ€™
Briefly describe the work you do. Ever since I seriously considered being an artist, I have been asking myself what can I bring to the table and what is it that I can and want to speak about through art? What is relevant to me and others, and how can I present it in a nutshell? These questions have lead me to observe the ways in which one acts or conducts oneself towards oneself, towards the other or the mass of others. In short my interests lie in the human condition and its reality. The work I do is very concept driven that means the medium and material choice is a result of the concept I am trying to visualize. The aesthetic choices I make are inspired by allegories and metaphors in literary works, the human condition, and things that do not always appear to be what they are. I often use my surrounding aesthetics and social environment as material. I am interested in crafting a message that is open to interpretation and unexpected meaning.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you. I grew up traveling around a lot (Austria / USA / Latvia) and therefore I was able to witness big contrasts in mentalities. Differing from countries to sub cultures within these countries. Growing up with three languages one is also made acutely aware of how perception of a word changes with each language. I might need a whole sentence to describe something were as in a nother language I have a word that describes exactly what I am trying to express. I guess seeing this diversity in human perception is what interests me the most and has played a big role in how I have structured my direction in art. The work one can see depicted here are from my most resent work „SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT“, which is a work based on my personal experience dealing with the questions “What is home, where is home and how is home defined? Does home necessarily have to be the place where one was born?“
What art do you most identify with?
How would you describe the art scene in your area?
I see my artworks in the context of conceptual art. What is the most challenging part about working with new media?
Vienna has a small but very active art scene. In terms of art being produces I do feel like there is some predilection towards a certain type of art. Never the less I think it’s a good home-base to work in. Not too distracting and not boring.
I enjoy working with new media I think it can be really exciting, but it takes a lot of time and dedication to create.
What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts?
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
*Sing* “Work, work, work, work, work, work”
I identify strongly with Félix González-Torres work, in its delicate sense of visualizing the emotional state and evoking empathy in the viewer. I have many artists that I find inspirational (Kimsooja, Cristo and Claude, Ai Weiwei, Peter Doig etc.) but I would not compere myself to any of them.
What are your future plans? I will be going to Lisbon and Berlin in each place I plan to do an exhibition. Also, I am having a new group exhibition coming up in the Zurich Kantonalbank in March. At the moment I am also working on a new experimental short film, so basically just keep on doing stuff and moving forward that’s the plan.
Published on Dec 17, 2016
Artists: Lucinda Burgess, Francesca Busca, Pablo Caviedes, John Paul Evans, Lindsay Hayre, Jukka-Pekka Jalovaara, Rebecca Key, Kevin Killen,...