In Conversation With:
Interviewed by Valerie Stupnikova
How did you discover your love of art?
I had an amazing set of art teachers in secondary school. It was actually my GCSE art teacher who informed me that studying art was a thing people could do. I was amazed and that set it in stone for me really, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I was always interested in drawing. Though, my earliest memories are of 7-year-old me buying comics with my pocket money and spending hours copying the cartoons until I could draw them from memory. No one believed me when I told them I didn’t trace them!
Your works are simple but, at the same time, eye-catching. What’s their main message?
The work I’ve been making over the last year came about while I was trying to find a way to maintain an art practice without much space to work in, or money for materials, and not a lot of free time to put into it. They’re problem-solving exercises in a way - and have given me a chance to explore and question the subconscious ‘rules’ I’ve set and followed to make something I consider to be ‘good’. The interesting thing to me at the moment is looking back over them and trying to connect the dots - what are these subconscious decisions and the resulting images trying to tell me?
You’ve created a newsletter project 'STANDard.' Can you tell me some more about this project?
So the idea of a newsletter for gallery invigilators came about while I was working at the Serpentine Galleries - everyone in front of the house team was in a similar position - we were either artists, students or had other creative interests. Our shift patterns meant that we didn’t all necessarily get to meet each other, so I wanted to make something that let everyone share what they’re up to. It became a valuable resource for us and expanded into other teams in the gallery, allowing them to see what we do outside of work. It sort of bridged the gap where front of house staff would never normally have the chance to interact with other teams in the gallery. Years later I began the project again when I started working at Victoria Miro, and I have grand plans to build and expand it to other galleries!
"it does definitely feel like I put on a different ‘hat’ when I’m working on something that’s more illustrative."
"What are these subconscious decisions and the resulting images trying to tell me?"
Your illustrations have a different approach compared to your collages and sketchbook works, is this deliberate?
Yeah, I’m still not really sure why, but it does definitely feel like I put on a different ‘hat’ when I’m working on something that’s more illustrative. I’ve been interested in calligraphy and design for a while, but I only really used it to make stuff like gifts and greetings cards for friends and family. I began to get requests from them to make things to give to their friends, family, and others, and eventually, I thought it could become a way for me to make some kind of small income. I have noticed a crossover though, in the way I select colors and my decisions when it comes to the composition of an image or a calligraphy piece.
Tell me about your experience of working as an invigilator. Can an art amateur hold this
Absolutely! Your main job is to look after the artworks, but it’s also a customer service role. An interest in art is key - you don’t need to be full of a load of art history knowledge, but you have to be proactive and learn about the artists and work that you’re standing with all day. People like to ask about the artwork, and I think it’s important to help make the gallery feel like a less intimidating space - especially for people who may not normally visit gallery spaces. I’ve worked in public-funded, commercial, and government-funded galleries, and each one has taught me a bit more about the business side of the art world - which is valuable knowledge to have as a young artist trying to make their way in the world!
Is modern art crucial for present-day society? Why?
I think it’s incredibly crucial. Modern art has the capacity to do so much - record current events that will become history, build a connection with strangers, engage, and educate so many possibilities! I think recently the value of the arts has been made clear through the amount of expression and creativity people have been exploring during the COVID-19 lockdowns - I just hope this continues and is reflected through funding and support for creative programs.