BIG RAT .STUDIO

ABI CHARLESWORTH INTERVIEW

AS ONE OF OUR 6 SHOWS IN ‘6 WEEKS: IMPOSSIBLE POP UPS’ SERIES, WE SPOKE TO abi charlesworth ABOUT THEIR WORK. VIEW Abi’S SHOW HERE.

HELLO! WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?

HI! I AM SCULPTURE AND INSTALLATION ARTIST WORKING AROUND THE IDEA OF PLAY AND MATERIALITY. THIS TYPICALLY RESULTS IN COLOURFUL AND TACTILE OBJECTS.

YOU SAY THAT YOU SEE YOUR WORK AS ALTERING INTERACTIONS WITH OBJECTS, SPECIFICALLY IN RELATION TO THE UNCONSCIOUS, COULD YOU SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THAT?

IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SHAPE OF THE OBJECT I GET HUNG UP ON A LINE OR CURVE THAT MUST EXIST AND EVOLVE NATURALLY IN THE DRAWING AND MAKING PROCESS. THIS LINE RESULTS IN A SCULPTURE WHICH ONLY LATER DO I TEND TO REALISE THAT IT REFERENCES AN OBJECT I HAVE COME INTO PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH. THIS RESULTING IN AN UNCONSCIOUS TRANSLATION OF AN OBJECTS SHAPE.

YOUR WORK IS FOCUSED ON MATERIAL – TO THE POINT THAT YOU WERE IN A SHOW CALLED ‘MATERIAL’ – WHAT IS IT THAT DRAWS YOU TO A MATERIAL OR EXCITES YOU ABOUT EXPLOITING A CERTAIN MATERIAL?

I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN MATERIAL PROPERTIES AND PARTICULAR SURFACE FEEL. I WORK DIRECTLY WITH ALL MY SCULPTURES FROM MOULDING, CASTING, MIXING, SANDING AND PAINTING BY HAND. THIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MATERIALS IS A PERSONAL FORM OF PLAY THAT RESULTS FOR ME IN A TACTILE OBJECT – BUT I AM ALSO LOOKING AT INCLUDING THE VIEWER IN THIS RELATIONSHIP IN THE FUTURE. CERTAIN MATERIALS FOR ME ARE MOUTH WATERING. THIS ATTRACTION IS FORMULATED THROUGH THE AESTHETIC ALLURE OF THE MATERIALS LOOK AND FEEL. I ALSO REALLY ENJOY THE FAKERY SOME MATERIALS HAVE AND THE WAY YOU CAN MANIPULATE A MATERIAL TO BECOME SOMETHING ELSE. IN THE INSTALLATION OF THESE OBJECTS AND MATERIALS I LIKE TO PLACE THINGS THAT DON’T USUALLY COME IN CONTACT WITH EACH OTHER TOGETHER.

 YOU OFTEN JUXTAPOSE HARD MATERIALS (OR HARD-LOOKING MATERIALS E.G. BRICKWORK) WITH QUITE FLUID FORMS, OR PLACE OBJECTS IN DELICATE BALANCES; WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE EFFECT OF THIS CONTRAST?

IN THE TRANSLATION OF THESE OBJECTS I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT TEXTURE AND MATERIAL PROPERTIES AND HOW REMOVING THE FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS THESE OBJECTS BECOME SOMETHING PURELY AESTHETIC. IN REMOVING THE FUNCTION THESE OBJECTS ARE USELESS AND THERE’S SOMETHING QUITE POETIC AND UNCANNY ABOUT A USELESS OBJECT.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TACTILE, AND OFTEN PLAYFUL, NATURE OF YOUR WORK? WHY ARE THESE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF WHAT YOU DO AESTHETICALLY?

PLAY IS THE UNDERLYING DRIVING FORCE OF MY PRACTICE. I HAVE BEEN PREOCCUPIED WITH THE MAKING OF OBJECTS AND THE LABOUR INVOLVED IN THE PRODUCTION OF ARTWORKS SINCE MY TIME AT SCHOOL. IT IS ONLY THROUGH UNIVERSITY AND HAVING A TUTORIAL THAT I WAS QUESTIONED WHERE THE PLAY WAS IN MY WORK. THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN RATTLING AROUND MY BRAIN FOR YEARS SINCE IT WAS MENTIONED AND NOW I HAVE COME TO THE TERMS THAT I ONLY STOP PLAYING WHEN THE WORK IS INSTALLED. TO ME THE FINAL PLACEMENT AND INSTALLATION IS POST- PLAY, A FORM OF LEFTOVERS AND ORDERED MESS.

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO MAKE USE OF PHONES IN YOUR RECENT WORK?

IN MY RECENT WORKS I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR A WAY OF ACTIVATING THE SCULPTURES WHEN THEY SEEM TOO FLAT AND LACK TEXTURE. BY INSERTING A MOVING IMAGE I’M ADDING DEPTH AND EVIDENCE OF THE MAKER’S HAND, BUT ALSO MY DESIRE FOR TOUCH AND PLAY.

IN THIS SHOW YOU WANTED TO USE THE SPACE BETWEEN YOUR WORKS TO PRODUCE A FEELING OF BEING IN A VOID. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS THAT INTERESTS YOU?

IN LOOKING AT THE SITE OF PLAYGROUNDS AND PLACES OF PLAY I REALISED THEY ARE FLAT, NONDESCRIPT BACKGROUNDS DESIGNED TO BE A FACILITY FOR MORE INTERESTING STRUCTURES AND TOYS. IN PRODUCING A FORM OF VOID WITH THE USE OF COLOUR I REMOVE CONTEXT AND ALLOW THE OBJECTS TO BE APPRECIATED FOR THEIR MATERIALITY. THE VOID HOLDS A FUNCTION AS A PLACE TO ALLOW THE SCULPTURES TO FLOAT.

WHO, OR WHAT, WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR INFLUENCES?

HOLLY HENDRY, ANNE HARDY, SUSAN COLLIS, NAOMI HARWIN, EMMA HART, SARAH LUCAS, KATE SQUIRES AND JO ADDISON. TO NAME A FEW!

YOU WRITE ABOUT YOUR INTEREST IN THE DIMENSIONALITY, I.E. THE EXTENSION OR FLATNESS, OF THE WORKS YOU PRODUCE; HOW DO YOU THINK THE WORKS RESPOND TO BEING FLATTENED THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY? WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL CHANGE WHEN THEY’RE EXHIBITED IN 2D?

I AM CONSTANTLY SAT ON A SEE SAW BETWEEN WORK BEING TOO FLAT/ TWO- DIMENSIONAL AND WORK BEEN OVERLY TEXTURISED AND THREE-DIMENSIONAL. IN THE EXHIBITING OF THESE WORKS ONLINE I HOPE THEY FIND A FORM OF BALANCE IN A LOOP HOLE OF FLATNESS OF IMAGE AND PHYSICALITY OF SCREENS. IN THE VIEWING ON A PHONE OR LAPTOP THE DEVICE BECOMES PART OF THE ARTWORK AND THERE’S A NICE FAMILIARITY TO TACTILITY TO THAT.

HAVE YOU BEEN PRODUCTIVE DURING THE LOCKDOWN? HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC AFFECTED YOU AND YOUR PRACTICE?

DURING LOCKDOWN I WAS FORCED TO RETURN TO MY FAMILY HOME, BUT THIS GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO REEVALUATE MY PRACTICE AND WORK WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS OF MY BEDROOM. THIS WAS PROBABLY THE MOST PRODUCTIVE MAKING TIME I HAVE HAD SINCE UNIVERSITY. I ALSO RAN SOME ONLINE CRITIQUES, WHICH WAS REALLY GREAT TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK AND FEEL LIKE I WAS INVOLVED IN AN ARTS COMMUNITY. I ALSO FINALLY REVISITED MY ARTIST STATEMENT TO ASSESS HOW MY PRACTICE HAD CHANGED AND WHERE I WANT IT TO GO, AS WELL AS REDESIGNING MY WEBSITE AS MY HOST CLOSED DOWN!

I AM ABOUT TO START THE EMERGE RESIDENCY AT BATH SCHOOL OF ART AND DESIGN LATER IN THE AUTUMN AND SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN AN OPEN STUDIOS AND END OF RESIDENCE SHOW YET TO BE CONFIRMED. THE BEST WAY TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH ME IS VIA MY INSTAGRAM @A.CHFA AND I REGULARLY UPDATE MY WEBSITE WWW.ABICHARLESWORTH.CO.UK BEST VIEWED ON DESKTOPS.

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