"The works in Lead Me Not Into Temptation are definitely as much about the sensual pleasures relating to food and bodies and the joys of excess, as they are about guilt and shame."
Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practising artist and where did you study?
I am an artist, Director of Block 336 and a Fine Art Tutor at City & Guilds of London Art School. It depends how you define 'practising' but I've been through the art education system starting with Foundation and finally completed a two year Fine Art MA at City & Guilds of London Art School in 2015.
You recently had a major solo show "Lead Me Not Into Temptation" at Block 336, with paintings, a large sculptural installation and video. This must have been a huge challenge, could you talk about the show and the thoughts behind the title?
This show was definitely my most ambitious so far. In broad terms, Lead Me Not Into Temptation was dealing with with ideas around consumption and desire. The installation took the Garden of Eden as a starting point and throughout the works that were displayed, food and bodies acted as motifs that allowed me to think about the different attitudes towards eating and sexuality and how they have changed through time.
I’m interested in the current obsession with food in popular culture, the relationships people have with food and the way it is talked about. The language used is often so moralising and inflected with judgements: "clean, dirty, good, bad, virtuous, sinful, naughty, nice” etc. and when I was trying to track the origins of this, the creation story in the bible story seemed to capture it all.
I also wanted to celebrate desire and pleasure as well as touching on certain societal issues. The works in Lead Me Not Into Temptation are definitely as much about the sensual pleasures relating to food and bodies and the joys of excess, as they are about guilt and shame.
Your paintings often depict sweets and fast food, could you tell us your ideas behind this? They also have a digital quality about them, almost like they have been embossed or rendered by a computer program.
I am interested in the more-real-than-real quality that objects modelled using computer software have. I have been looking at this kind of imagery from some time. Digitally modelled food is especially strange because it is so far away from what it depicts materially. This is similar in pornography and much of the mainstream eroticised imagery we see, where bodies, like food are cleaned up and controlled, with context largely erased, producing this weird simulacrum totally lacking in oozy mess.
As well as referencing these objects in the paintings, for the installation I produced the piece Love Bite which features a CGI animated apple that has a love heart shaped bite taken out of it. The installation was static apart from this. I felt it was important to have something moving that intended to entice people from behind the shop front style window and into the garden.
Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?
My studio is at Block 336. I tend to get in early, have coffee and tidy up. Weirdly I have to get things in order before I start. It’s always that way round. I never have energy at the end of the day to sort things out so I organise first thing and then mess it up throughout the day. Once I begin I find it hard to stop what ever I’m doing - I don’t sit down much. When I am in the studio I am working. I don’t do admin there. I do that at home where it’s more comfortable. I try to have fully concentrated days when I am in the studio so as to get the most out of them. Since my exhibition finished I have been going through the drawings I made when I was preparing for the show and I am starting to develop the one’s I didn’t have time to work with. I make loads of drawings – it’s where the work always starts for me.
How do you go about titlng your work?
My titles are often quite tongue-in-cheek, they might be playful puns based on the subject of the work or come out of colloquial language. Other times, they might be more ambiguous and come out of my research. I’ll Tell You A Secret And You Won’t Be Hungry Anymore, comes from a line in one of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. They had an obsession with hunger and food runs through their stories. I’m interested in the power these tales have which often seems to be connected to a sense of home and the security of being fed.
All images courtesy of the artist and Block 336
Publish Date: 23/11/17