What are the main themes you have explored in your work and why are they important to you?
Often textiles art is seen as an outsider art or as a type of craft. I want to expand the expectations of Fine Art to acknowledge textiles and tactile sculpture as an acceptable form of contemporary art. My starting point was tactile sculpture, which is where my interest in interactive work stems from.
My practice explores textiles from tactile sculpture to embroidery. I primarily focus on interaction and participation, and feel that it is crucial for the viewer to touch and experience the artwork. I also create hand embroidery pieces, which are smaller in scale, exploring a craft element. With the smaller scale and the handmade quality referencing smaller batch production rather than mass manufacture. These works are not made to be put on a plinth or in a case, but instead invite the viewer to break down the boundaries between themselves and the artwork.
I explore the decline of the British textile industry, as well as craft and home-work. Investigating the role of women at a time when a lot of British manufacture has moved abroad, I am confronting the viewer with the value of women’s work.
My work is greatly influenced by Lygia Clark, a Brazilian artist whose interactive sculpture was, at times, created to be destroyed by the participant. Her work A casa e o corpo (The House is a Body), 1968, was the first work I discovered in the book Women Artists in the 20th and 21st Century by Uta Grosenick. The piece is an interactive womb-like space in which the participant experiences the stages of birth. The idea of creating a space where you could create an experience by altering the senses of a participant excited me.
How did you develop the idea that produced your final exhibition work?
I developed my degree show performance from the ideas I was working with at the time. I had recently created a performance entitled Destruction/Mending that I felt needed to be resolved through the creation of another work. I wanted to confront the viewer with the reality of mass manufacture, whilst also exploring the idea of the artist’s assistant and the authorship of the work produced.
I encountered some issues with the development, the biggest issue was finding a space that was appropriate for the work to be displayed. I don’t feel that the performance was necessarily as successful as it could have been, as I think that I could have replicated an industry setting more successfully, and should have had multiple performers interacting with one another.
I said from the start that the outcome of the performance would be important whether it is a success or a failure, and I feel that it has been important in the resolution of my performance work.
During the exhibition I learnt a lot about curating a space with a large number of artists who all had contrasting work. You have to learn to make the best of the space you have.
What do you think is the most significant thing that has helped you during your time a UCA Farnham?
I started vlogging towards the end of the year to generate an exchange of ideas and a discussion around my practice, and I think that this is something that I would encourage all art students to do now. It really forces you to think about your practice and gives you feedback from people outside of your university network. Work experience is also really important and I would encourage any student to gain as much industry experience alongside their studies as the contacts you will gain will be really important once you graduate.
What are you planning next?
At the moment I am working on a few projects including co-curating Fresh Is More at APG gallery in Sheffield (which runs from 27th August to 1st September).
In October I am going to study a Masters degree in Participatory and Community Art. In the future I hope to create my own gallery and community art space, utilising the skills and knowledge, as well as the contacts gained during postgraduate study. I want to create a space that not only supports the community and acts as a hub for local people, but a place that also has international links, supporting graduates and emerging artists. This arts space will be a place for creativity within theatre and music and the arts.