Can you tell me about your practice? How do you get started on a piece of work?
My practice is mainly sculpture based and I work in many different materials depending on the pieces I’m focusing on creating. The beginning of the process for creating a piece will generally come from something that I’ve been holding onto for a while. An important part of my practice is observation, I take note of little details I see within objects, which can literally be anything from the methods a car brand has used to impose its logo on a particular model of car to noticing how people have adapted objects to suit other purposes. I’m definitely a collector, and it’s important to my practice to try and hold onto all the observations I have, I mainly do this through taking photos on my phone or collecting any objects that I’m able to. Ideas for new sculptures generally come from these observations, after a period of mulling over what it is that interests me about something and what conversation I believe the material could have within my sculptures. Sometimes I’ll use the actual objects within a sculpture, or I’ll incorporate the photographs.
Who are your biggest influences?
I’m definitely drawn to artists that incorporate a lot of detail into their work and that use references from multiple physical sources within their practice. I think the work of Michael Dean and Magali Reus is really compelling to me for the sense of exploration I get when viewing their work. I always want to know where all the imagery and objects have been sourced and I’m interested in trying to process the selection of materials and imagery they’ve chosen to use. It feels almost investigative, I like work that allows you a way in through the materials whilst keeping a little back, making you consider why the selection of pieces have been included and what they communicate. An artist that has also been influential to me is Lily van der Stokker, although I wouldn’t say my practice is influenced by her work, my choice to pursue art definitely was. In 2010 I saw her exhibition, No Big Deal Thing at Tate St Ives and it was the first time that I’d understood the possibilities art contained.
Can you talk about the role that communication plays in your practice?
The way I think of communication is that it’s a balance between multiple viewpoints, I believe that’s true of all forms of communication. The pieces I create are always produced with a tension between the multiple forces of influence. In some pieces I may explore the contradicting or differing purposes of a singular object. In other pieces I might use my sculptures to explore the physical boundary between differing spaces, such as an underneath and an above. I may explore a singular environment and the tension the influence of the past has on the present and the sense of erasure of the past through the future. So I choose to utilise objects that physicalise these concepts, an object like a bollard that can symbolise a tension and restriction of a chosen direction, or through using sculptures shaped like gas markers to talk about the things hidden underneath the surface. Some pieces rely fully on physical metaphors. In others, I utilise other communication devices to fully express my vision.
How important is material in your work?
The materials I work with are very important within my practice. Although my work is not led by materials, as in to say I don’t begin my process without having a rough idea of what I’m aiming to produce. I do rely heavily on material experimentation to create my work. I choose the materials to suit the idea I have, sometimes this can mean learning entirely new methods of production and using unfamiliar materials to make a piece. Which allows me to explore the best way to communicate my ideas.
What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
That’s a really tricky question because it often depends on the type of work I’m producing at the time. So for that reason I’ll choose the one constant thing I use in every project and that’s my sketchbook. Apart from the clearly valuable things like my laptop and phone, my sketchbook is the one thing that I’d be lost without. Although I go through them pretty quick, I keep all of my sketchbooks because they’re incredibly useful. I note down any ideas for sculptures, any key dates or opportunities, I make lists for myself, I use them to do continuous writing exercises to order my ideas and they contain really useful practical information. For instance the inside front cover of my current sketchbook contains all the measurement quantities for casting the pieces I’m working on and the exact mixtures and quantities of pigment to use in each. Others contain notes on measurements for the fabrication of past sculptures and overall they’re just a lovely thing to keep to reflect on what I’ve been up to over the years.
Can you give us a book recommendation that has been important in your practice? And tell us why it’s important.
I’d say any work by Virginia Woolf, I find it difficult to read when I’m formulating ideas for a piece because my mind starts to wander off the page. But I do enjoy reading her books when I’m trying to express the concept of a piece in writing. Which I generally do when I’m thinking of exhibiting a piece. I like to practice continuous writing to really get all my ideas out onto the page and then I select sections of the text that best describe what it is I’m trying to communicate. This method is also how I produced the text piece that accompanied my exhibition, Under- side / Under-stood. Woolf’s work is produced in a similar way so it’s really great to read her work to get into that headspace. I’ve also got a selection of issues of the Matter publication that I bought in a second hand book store and there’s a piece in issue No.3 by Leigh Money called Hair today, Gone tomorrow. Which is a series of images of the fronts of barbershops with particularly interesting names. Again, it’s that sort of observation that I’m drawn to and an enjoyable way to explore a place.
Finally, is there anything new coming up that you would like to tell us about?
During 2020 I’ve been working with Abingdon Studios, Blackpool as part of their Work/Leisure residency programme. The outcomes of the residency form a new body of work which I’m excited for people to see and which I’ll be exhibiting in the project space within the coming year. Also as Chisenhale Studios’ Into The Wild programme draws to an end, we’ve decided as a group to produce a publication together which we’ll be launching in March/April of this year.
Image credit: the artist