Who are you?
I am an artist based in the UK. My mediums are fabric and stitch combined with photography and film. The work I make sits in an awkward realm between sculpture, performance, fashion and art.
What are you most convinced of?
I believe that craftsmanship is important. It is critical to carry on learning your craft, always strive to be better.
What gives you the most joy?
Hanging out with my partner and cat. Though I did go to a trampolining park the other day, that was pretty joyful :)
How did you find yourself?
My work is a product of my childhood. I grew up in a family of doctors, nurses and scientists. The human body has always been a subject of fascination for me. I remember Mum taking me to see Body World, by Gunther von Hagens. It showed the human (and other animals) in all their biological, anatomical glory preserved by plastination. Combine this scientific mindset with a mum who can turn her hand to all the crafts: she can crochet, silk paint, dye, toy-make, quilt, embroider, cook, upholster. Anything. We were always encouraged to make and create as kids; this combination of science and creativity seems to have irresistibly steered my work to what is.
What inspired you to create the squishy characters?
I see my current work as a mix of an extreme form of quilting and an informal study of anatomy. My degree was in fashion design and in a sense my work no is a development on from that, with the body as a central point of interest. The initial idea came from pushing the technique of quilting to create more voluminous and sculptural forms The layered and shaped sections of fabric and wadding simultaneously mimic the relief pattern in a quilt and the muscles of the arms or legs. I like to let the fabric itself lead me. The fabric I use is stretchy so it allows for a glorious smoothness but also has wonderful bounce when weight is added. They celebrate flesh, form and movement. Instead of sculpting with stone or marble, sculpting with fabric is more tactile, more life-like. Fabric is soft, warm and will not last forever, just like people.
What makes you angry?
People treating clothing as disposable products. I find it so frustrating that we don’t respect garments anymore. They are hugely complex items that are touched by so many hands in their creation, yet they are now consumed in way that they are valueless. This makes me angry and sad. It is also destroying our world.
What is/are the strangest situation(s) that happened to you?
Sharing a packet of crisps with Björk in a hotel room.
What do you think about the interpretation of art? Do you want your art to be interpreted?
I think the interpretation of art is inevitable. We each look at the world around us with our own personal story and experience, so each interpretation of art (or anything) will always be personal to that person. I’ve found people interpret my work in wildly different ways for that reason I prefer not to always feed people with my meaning, but prefer to listen to theirs. The relationship we have with our body is the most intimate and enduring relationship we will have.
What do you think of the Susan Sontag’s phrase: ”In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art”?
Having never read her essay ‘Against Interpretation’ I am reluctant to say a strong opinion. But my understanding of the summary of the piece is that it implies that we should approach art with a conscious awareness of its sensory experience without the weight of context and interpretation on our mind. In other words, allow yourself to feel whatever comes instinctually when you immerse yourself in an artwork, without feeling pressure to decipher meaning. I think there is a lot of truth in that, it is easy to become bamboozled by ‘Art Speak’ and feel intimidated by understanding art. I know I do. Art should be for everyone, we can read it intellectually and analyse its meaning but equally we can just look and feel and that is enough too.
What would be your perfect environment for making art?
All of my current work was born at my childhood home. There is something so comforting about working in a space you have known since you were small. No judgement. Tap into your inner child. I no longer work in that space but in my new space I endeavour to surround myself with objects and materials that inspire me and people I can talk to openly without judgement. If I could have the perfect environment, it would be all those things but also massive, with lots of squashy sofas, warm, with the great outdoors just outside, all the paint, wood, fabric, thread and dyes at my fingertips and my cat Kevin.
What is your dream project?
I love the body in motion. A dream project would be a collaboration with choreographers, people who move, film makers, sound artists and set builders to create a world for the Squishies to jump for joy in.
What is your favourite place that inspires you the most?
I love London. I still find it inspiring just walking the streets of the city. It has an unidentifiable energy. Even now, in these strange times, the buzz of things happenings, things being made and said is still there.
What jobs do you do / have you done other than being an artist?
I’m an also an illustrator. The style is very different! I draw mostly for greetings cards. I’ve done some pretty varied jobs in the past though; Christmas tree decorator, Front of house at the Circus, Lifeguard etc; got to keep things interesting!
What are your favourite books/movies/persons? Any recommendations :)
My favourite poet/spoken word artist is Kate Tempest (now Kae Tempest). Her words are inspiring, current, saddening and igniting. Definitely have a listen. I implore everyone to watch David Attenborough: A life on Our Planet on Netflix. Its not an easy watch but should be mandatory. To counter-balance the very serious recommendations… I have just re listened to ALL the Harry Potter books. Revisiting child hood books is the most joyful escapism out there! J
What is the story, the biography behind the squishies?
I like to humanise inanimate objects. The squishies are characters in their own right. It would feel wrong to just call them ‘untitled 2’. Naming them brings them to life as real individuals, which is in part what this is about; we are all unique. There is Burt, Clive, Hillary, Dave and I am in the middle of making Rosie.
What advice can you give to young artists?
Teachers talk about finding a voice. But I think your voice will come naturally, try not to worry about the voice and focus on your craft. Be prolific.
What kind of people inspire you?
People with energy. People who are thrive on their thing that they like doing whatever it is they do.
What is your strength?
Clear vision… with regards to my creative practise.