"I am seduced by and long to feel indigenous within a wild, natural environment."
Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practicing artist and where did you study?
I graduated from Falmouth in 2011 and I’ve been living and working in London for four years now.
There is a playful/sexual element to your work, could you talk about the meaning behind these figures and body parts?
A while back I started collecting A5 flyers advertising sex workers; I found them littering the pavements and phone boxes of King Cross. These printed adverts feel like mythical objects, inviting you into a dark and sexual world. I wanted to develop a narrative by transporting these women from the flyers, into my paintings, creating environments that where sensual and feminine. Possibly places where their desires could be fulfilled.
Over time this language has developed, often lone body parts or features rather than whole figures occupy the paintings, isolating these body parts can create more innuendo. Hands in particular are a bit of an obsession, gesticulating wildly they grab, pull and slap. Eyes become voyeurs and mouths are openings which can swallow and lick, inviting us into the paintings yet not being explicit about what is going on.
Is your work narratively driven, and if so what is your inspiration for these stories?
Storytelling is very important to me; in my paintings I aim to create a unique space where strange scenarios and fantastic moments arise. I collect stories from my own experience, Folk law, Spoken word storytelling, literature and history.
The mythologist Martin Shaw is a spoken word storyteller and he teaches that we do not own the stories but that they own us, this sentiment has particular resonance for me.
Human nature is entwined with the natural world in my paintings, plants and flowers express a personal longing for nature; I am seduced by and long to feel indigenous within a wild, natural environment.
What do you hope the viewer gains/reacts from looking at your work?
I’d like to think the viewer is drawn in by a playful sense of jest in the work- for this to raise a smile. Then I hope that they get the vibe that darker forces are at play; that anxieties, fears and desires are present within the paintings.
What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?
I went to see the RA Schools Premiums show last week, the best way to describe Issy Wood’s paintings is to say that they are dark and gorgeous.
Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine, what is your studio like?
I have been in the same studio for three years, it’s just off Ridley Road market in Dalston, and I often go and wonder about in the Turkish Food Centre or the market below.
I listen to a lot of radio, in particular Late Junction; I like to listen to stuff and not know what is coming up next.
Ideally I work on lots of things at once; I try to keep a rhythm going, working simultaneously on canvas paintings, PVC sheeting, sketch book drawings and painted inflatable balls. I recently threw away my desk because I thought it was getting in the way-possibly a mistake! I’ve since been working on the floor, squatting over paintings and trying to get my hands on inflated balls that are suspended from the ceiling.
What does the future hold for you as an artist? Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
Painting on 3d objects has brought a new dimension to my work, it began with beach balls. The balls are inflated and suspended when I paint on them, as they spin around they reveal different parts of their surface intermittently, they are hard to get my hands on, disrupting my ability to paint a linear narrative.
These balls have piqued my curiosity; recently I am also painting on inflated helium balloons and polystyrene spheres. I imagine these objects could become part of a shared ritual, they are still paintings but you can kick them, bounce them and release them- they have a lot of potential these unruly creatures!
Images courtesy of the artist
Interview publishing date: 09/02/17