“I want to seduce the viewer and make you feel a flutter of excitement, pull you in and then show you the deeper often darker messages in the work”
Interview by writer Stephen Feather
In your work you use the names of pop music songs as titles for your pieces. How do you connect your own experience with these titles in your work?
Im a huge music fan i listen to music all day and in my spare time i watch a lot of music videos on YouTube. I‘m also that person who can remember all the lyrics when a song comes on, much to the delight of anyone in the car with me. The work i make requires input from the viewer and i like to use the titles as introductions to the work, conversation starters. Some people relate heavily to smells, i relate to sound and songs to form a playlist of my life and these same songs will for many people evoke times in there life they felt a certain way, i want to channel these feelings, i suppose it could be called nostalgia. For a piece like ‘Well, somebody told me you had a boyfriend Who looked like a girlfriend That I had in February of last year.’ (2019) named after the song ‘Somebody told me’ by the Killers the lyrics talk of the subject of the work, with reference to Trans rights, Gender Nonconformity and the bathroom bills in the US. Most of the time the work comes first and then i listen intently to lyrics to find the title the Killers title came really easy as i had been listening to them at Glastonbury on the TV and the uncertainty of a persons gender in the lyrics made for a perfect title to a work addressing Trans and Gender Nonconformists rights.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Where did you study?
I grew up in a small village in the county of Rutland in the East Midland, school was something i didn’t particularly enjoy i loved learning but found it hard to fit in. At 20 i studied a HND in Art and Design at Grantham College, this course opened my mind to the possibility of making art as a career my Tutors Anne Marie Kerr and Diana Ali were and still are inspirations to me, trips to Italy were a real highlight. I grew up in a small family my mum always made me believe i could do anything and my brother has my back. I adored living in the country side as a kid but growing up i felt different and coming to terms with my queer identity in somewhere like this was difficult, cities are where i feel at home among a vibrant collection of people. I currently live in Bristol but in September i move to Newcastle.
I studies my undergrad in Fine Art at Bath Spa University i just did two years to top up my HND to a Degree. The real highlight of being there was the technical staff and the facilities i could really make whatever i wanted, I’ve also made lifelong friends and we push each other to continue on as artists.
'You can be too boring, but you can never be too seductive’. You’ve said that this quote by Donatella Versace resonates heavily in your practice. In what way do you hope to seduce the viewer with your work?
I love fashion and the power clothing can give you to take on the world, Donatella Versace is a true icon i feel i resonate with this quote because, in my work i want to portray the sexiness of the materials. I want to seduce the viewer and make you feel a flutter of excitement, pull you in and then show you the deeper often darker messages in the work, this works best with seduction. My work does not play the long game it goes straight in and gives you that kiss on the lips… with the hope you stay around for more.
In pieces such as 'Nervous? you should be" (2016), ‘In the land of Gods and monsters, I was an angel, looking to get fucked hard’ (2019) and ‘I Wish I Were Amanda Lepore’ (2018) you explore the human body in different ways. How do you hope the viewer is involved in this exploration?
There is definitely a progression between my early work to where i am now, I started with casting the human body and now i have moved to abstraction, relying on semiotics and the materials to tell the story i want to convey. The work i currently make is conceptual and requires a time of contemplation after the initial first look. My hope is that the viewer stays with the work and spends time with it, feels the energy from it and share a moment of recollection, solidarity or empowerment. A lot of the pieces i create are driven by a battle with mental health, body image or sexuality, We all deal with struggles in our lives and i hope the works either show someone they are not alone or educate the viewer.
Many of your pieces are assemblages of various different objects and materials. How do you go about selecting the objects for your work? Do you have any particular signature objects which you like to use?
I’d never really thought about my work as being assemblages but now i look at it and see what you mean, i do use a variety of materials within one work and a lot of these materials are available to everyone such a ribbon, foam or light battens. I have been working as a sculpture technician at bath spa university as cover for the last 6 months so i have been experimenting with different materials my works are driven by ideas and not limited by medium, if i don’t know how to do something i will learn how to. Selection of readymade objects such as the urinal divider, stainless steel table and the light battens is carried out through association, what are the innate characteristics and story these objects tell. For example a stainless steel table is sterile and clean like a surgical room so i used this to highlight that in my work ‘I wish i were Amanda Lepore’ (2018) a piece about plastic surgery, body dysmorphia and beauty. i have a few objects that keep coming back to my work light being the most obvious, i love the transformative power that light posses. For the piece ‘In the land of Gods and monsters, I was an angel, looking to get fucked hard’ (2019) i used a green glow that references being inside a fiction, fantasy or delusion. This element was taken from the Matrix films which use green light to show when they are inside the matrix and blue light to show reality. Im also literally obsessed with caster wheels! i love things that can be moved easily and have an autonomy of their own.
Tell us a bit about how you spend your day / studio routine? What is your studio like?
The life of an artist is anything but boring every day is different, i work 5 jobs at the moment 2 as an artist assistants for Mariele Neudecker and Tash MacVoy. I work as a gallery invigilator at The Edge in Bath, i also have been working as the sculpture technician at Bath Spa University. Finally i work for a man who has a brain injury. So fitting in time at the studio can be hard. One thing that can be certain is that there will be music on in the studio, currently that involves a lot of dance music and pop. I’m lucky to have my studio at Spike Island in Bristol as i was awarded a Fellowship their when i completed my degree at Bath Spa University in 2018. My studio is shared with 3 other artists who were also awarded the fellowship Fran Kelly, Olivia Parrton and Anika Deb the studio is light and airy and makes it possible for me to store my growing portfolio of works. All my works start off as drawings are drawing is hugely important to my practice allowing me to unload my brain and really start to direct what it is I’m making. I don’t go anywhere without my laptop as well! In the studio i can often be found on illustrator creating files for CNC or Laser cutting and I’m also into digitising my sketches to create layered drawings to work out colour combinations.
Physical making also takes place in the studio, this involves construction and finishing of the work, often processes are carried out off site where i have access to specialist machinery.
Finally my studio is used as a safe haven a place for me to go when I’m feeling low or just need a break from reality.
Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
I am very excited to be starting my Masters of Fine Art at BxNU in September, this is a combined course between Baltic and Northumbria University and is based at Baltic 39. Im looking forward to pushing my work in new directions with technology, materials and collaborating with some fabulous artists on duo shows and on single pieces of work. I have also recently held a solo show which was at the Roper Gallery in bath for the whole of August 2019, this was a great experience as it gave me the freedom to do whatever i wanted and not have to worry about impacting on anyone else’s works. I will be producing a limited run book that will include images of the show, a talk i gave at the Gallery and a review by Trevor H Smith, so keep your eyes pealed for that.
All images are courtesy of the artist
Publish date: 21/08/19