To help give further insight to the artists featured in the New Blood exhibition Broadway Gallery curator Kris Day asked each artist a series of questions on their practice, how their work was affected by the lockdown and what they think galleries should be doing to help support early career artists.
Could you tell us a bit more about your practice?
My practice revolves around exploring my heritage and Catholic upbringing. I work with my mother a lot, taking inspiration from her stories and examining our family archive. I aim to re-contextualise and reimagine the Catholic faith, taking elements of its imagery and rituals and reworking them. I aim to challenge the problematic nature of the church as an institution, as someone who is no longer religious but still takes great comfort in the faith and it’s aesthetic. I work in lots of different mediums as I come from a Fine Art background, and I’m now working on my curatorial skills.
As an art student working through the pandemic please tell us about some of the challenges you faced during this time.
Having no workshops or studios was the biggest challenge as someone working in 3D and video. I had a small bedroom, limited materials to work with, and little access to editing software. Having nowhere to relax and get out of work mode (as my bedroom was covered in plaster and flowers) was really strange!
Being unable to exhibit and critique my work in a group setting was really challenging, it damaged my motivation a lot. Being isolated with your work makes it very hard to see whether it’s any good or not! I really enjoy curating and showing work so finally being able to put on events/shows again has done wonders for my mental wellbeing.
All artists were forced to adapt during the lockdown, do you think these circumstances effected your practice in any way and did you manage to find new ways of getting your work ‘out there’, such as online exhibitions?
Trying to keep my instagram up to date and posting lots of content kept me going. Luckily I had plans for a post-lockdown show that I spent my time woking on.
Curating my degree show was challenging because we didn’t know if it would be in person until the last minute. We had to make sure we had a good online presence as well, just in case. We had a detailed website and lots of social media stuff going on. In the end we managed to exhibit in person, so seeing how the online and ’real life’ exhibitions coincided was interesting. I’m still working on online shows today, it’s very weird. Not sure I like it! It’s good experience though.
My practice as a sculptor was definitely affected. The impact and overall feel of the work is just not the same if you’re not seeing it in 3 dimensions! I definitely got a bit more lazy since you can hide more mistakes in a photograph. It took me a while to re-adjust and re-motivate myself.
Exhibitions such as New Blood aim to support early career artists by exposing them to new audiences, but this can only go so far. Is there anything that galleries could, or should, be doing to help develop your career further?
It really means a lot when curators/artists come to events that we put on by ourselves. It’s really important to support one another and build up the local art scene! Providing us with cheap/accessible venues to hold events at is so helpful. Learning how to curate/display/hang work is so crucial, so having a safe space to learn and be supported is really great. The Letchworth Culture Project, for example, is a great way to turn disused spaces into art venues. So many venues have closed/struggled since Covid, projects such as this are vital. Work experience days, workshops and training courses are so valuable but just giving up some time for a chat can really put early career artists at ease. Building personal relationships with successful artists/gallery workers makes the big art works a lot less daunting!
Are there any new projects you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about?
I’ve recently opened up a shop called ‘Clump.’ I sell handmade limited edition clay ornaments. I’m hoping to drop a new range of items soon!
I’m also working on curating an exhibition/club night at the Tetley in Leeds with some friends but it’s very early days!
Practice wise I’ve got some plans to make a big tapestry - I miss textiles. Having recently curated an online exhibition on textiles and their histories/political contexts, I’m really keen to try it out for myself! I haven’t used a sewing machine since school though so fingers crossed I’m not terrible at it.