Camberwell College of Art
Camberwell College of Art
The talent at Camberwell's degree show was plentiful and diverse, giving the audience a fresh take on illustration and sculpture. Avenir interviewed two fine art students about their work: Zoe Watson, who makes beautiful structures pairing kitsch homeware with delicate flowers. Nell Allen’s work has a naïve and playful feel, yet discusses more insightful themes of human emotion and sex.
Q:Your work has a strong visual and very playful element. What’s the idea behind your work?
A: “The materials are used through primitive processes and everything I apply has a cheap, tacky quality to it, which allows for a freer approach to making. The use of garish, colour and form are an aesthetic choice, which can both distract and enhance the materials. This is something I do deliberately to create an element of slapstick and humor whilst also using contrasting industrial material. The work is made to mock a once, and still present, rather masculine culture around sculpture through its frivolity. As the sculptures are a body of work they work best scattered around the room. Glory Grown is the biggest and most fragile of all the works so I wanted to make that obvious by having it tipped and poured. This was also the one that became the most primitive so by having it on the floor it showed the spontaneity that came with making the piece.”
Q: The sculptures have a surreal element to them because they almost look like objects you would find in a home, yet they are non-existent in the real world. Can you comment on this clash between reality and surreal quality?
A: “They are in some ways referencing domestic objects, which I find interesting. From reading Baudrillard I have become fascinated with the significance and value put on objects. The attachment humans have with objects is a psychological process and in my eyes helps us cope with life in a more sustained way.”
Q: Visually, who inspires you?
A: “I’m inspired by colour, human psychology, feminism-especially Nina power, a very influential modern feminist. Artists Karla Black and Lily Van der Stokker are great influences too.”
Q: What are the themes you explore in your work? Are any of them informed by experiences in your own life?
A: “My work consists of paintings of my obese angel named Bruce navigating a universe of obscene text, masturbation and childlike psychedelics. In this kitsch universe Bruce exists in, I use this contradiction between adult and childish pleasures to explore dissociation between emotional and physical desires. In a naive state everything seems sweet and great but as you learn and live you realize the perversion of reality, that sex is everything. I seek to pull this into my work with the use of kitsch aesthetics, which at a glance, are bright and fun but in reality propagated, unoriginal and cheap. There is an overwhelming presence and extravagance to all things false.”
Q: How do you achieve this overwhelming visual effect and what is your favourite art material to work with?
A: “I have built up a process of painting on both sides of a sheet of glass that allows layers to be created within one plane, and with a reflective surface behind the glass it creates another level of perspective to each painting.”
Q: Who are your artistic influences?
A: “Adventure Time. Takashi Murikami. Penis. Paul McCarthy. Tumblr. Spongebob Square Pants. Michelangelo. Lily Van Der Stokker. Baudrillard. Jeff Koons. The Simpsons. Porn. My Free Cams. PoundStretcher. Ultraviolence. Mr Blobby. Rapey Dolphins. Disney.”
Q: Can you give us the name of one piece of writing or art piece that you’d recommend?
A: “The Ecstasy of Communication by Baudrillard explores the idea of the media ‘screen’ mediating people’s emotions, the consumption of data removing people from real stimuli through a simulation of it through media representation. It’s pretty rad. It helped me to validate my ideas on pornography and the icon of sex removing love as a tangible presence in reality.”