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Artist at work: Marysa Dowling

In response to our Artists at Work exhibition in the Drawings Gallery we wanted to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Marysa Dowling a freelance educator in our Public Programmes team discussing her practices.

Conceal Mexico 2017 #1

Could you tell us about your practice – what media you work in, what subject matter you focus on, what inspires you?

My photographic practice is participatory and rooted within portraiture. Many of my projects have an international focus as I work across several communities and cultures simultaneously to explore universal, human and democratic themes of communication, interaction and connection to place. Participation and collaborative possibilities are vital to my process.  Works are an exploration and observation of how people co-exist, relate to and interact with each other and the various environments they inhabit. I use photography as a tool to articulate experiences about our lives, how we live them and how we choose to represent ourselves. Working in both gallery and non-gallery spaces I aim to create thoughtful and playful photographic works, that come into being through social interaction. Recent projects have centred on journeys, the use of objects and human bodies as a form of performance through photography. Currently I am developing projects in the UK and Mexico firstly considering women’s roles in activism and change making, secondly how we use our hands to communicate, make and learn and using photography as a form of exchange. I am also working on my first book of a 10-year portraiture project with Smith Design.

Tell us about your working environment(s) and do you work anywhere other than, or in addition to, a studio – and if so, where?

My working environment varies hugely from job to job depending on the kind of project or where I am working. I can be based in a museum, gallery, school, studio, hospital, offices or out on location in the UK or other countries. An average week will involve working with people in a many different settings, as well as some time spent in my office or studio plus going to meetings. Currently I am an Artist in residence with GOSH Arts at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a unique and constantly changing environment to work in. This can involve working on a one to one basis with patients on wards or at bedsides or with larger groups in outpatients. You can see my studio in the photographs, but you will find out more about where I work from the locations and settings in my portraits. I love that things are constantly changing in my work. I find it stimulating to constantly meet new people to share ideas and make art with. As well as short term projects I develop ongoing projects to build long term relationships with individuals, communities and organisations.

How does your working environment affect your art (if at all)?

The environments I work in very much influence my art. Place, space and locations are often part of how and why I make my work and connect to the themes of each project. The location can dictate how the portrait and images will or can be made. Location often becomes relevant to part of the narrative I’m telling with my subject, both in my personal, participatory and education work.

Are there any particular tools or objects you feel particularly passionate about and/or are central to your work?

The concept and theme of the project will very much dictate the camera or cameras along with the methodology I use. My main tool is a Mamyia RZ 67 medium format analogue camera although I use various others such as a Canon DSLR 35mm digital, a wooden pinhole camera that takes medium format film, apps on a phone, scanners and paper-based image resources. When working on education projects having a little 6×4” printer with me encourages instant discussion and editing processes.

How do you deal with creative block? 

I start by going back to previous projects and begin to look again both at ideas, techniques and context. Trying to look afresh gives me to opportunity to ask myself what I get from the images now, what narratives, meaning and context is showing itself after some time away from the work. When I look again I start to see how themes and ideas are connecting. This usually gives me a way in to develop new ideas. I also play with laying out images to make connection and new narratives to spark ideas, simultaneously looking through my book collection and reading texts about my current interest. Sometimes getting out a camera I haven’t used for a while to experiment with techniques helps too.

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Arts Exchange

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Arts Exchange

Conceal Mexico #3 2017

 

Conceal Mexico 2015 #8

Conceal Mexico #9 2017

Discover more of Marysa’s work:

www.marysadowling.co.uk

Twitter:  @marysadowling

Instagram:  @marysadowling

 

 

Courtauld Artist at Work: Christine Maria La Carbonara

Our Artists at Work exhibition in the Drawings Gallery is in full swing. We thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Christine Maria La Carbonara, Retail Digital / E commerce Manager for The Courtauld Shop discussing her practices.

Could you tell us about your practice – what media you work in, what subject matter you focus on, what inspires you?

I work with different mediums. Oil painting is my primary method of expression. I also experiment with photography and painting with acrylics on various surfaces: including terracotta and wood. I am inspired by the trivial, the banalities that I only imagine many people interpret as the quotidian. Life excites me. I love documenting everything. Adding form, whether figurative or abstract, to a sensation or to  encapsulate a remarkable moment in time. The latter of course which holds meaning to me. I only hope that others will see or feel what I try to convey through my works.

Tell us about your working environment(s).

I do not have a studio.  The world around me is my studio. 

Do you work anywhere other than, or in addition to, a studio – and if so, where?

I have worked across three countries. Sometimes with an easel, sometimes painting a canvas that I’m simply embracing physically.

How does your working environment affect your art (if at all)?

I would love to have a dedicated space to create works of art. However, I find it challenging and exploratory creating a space for creation.

Are there any particular tools or objects you feel particularly passionate about and/or are central to your work?

Colour!! I need colour for my works.

How do you deal with creative block?

Creative block is something that happens, in my opinion, when we’ve platuead emotionally, psychologically, sentimentally. Take a trip! Approach a stranger for a random conversation. You’ll find inspiration once more.

Discover more of Christine’s work:

Instagram: @solarskyify

Facebook: /solarskyify

Twitter: /solarskyify

Artists at Work
The Drawings Gallery
Until 15 July 2018 

Courtauld Artists At Work: Vicky Falconer

Our Artists at Work exhibition in the Drawings Gallery is in full swing. We thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Vicky Falconer, Assistant Librarian, serials and e-resources at The Courtauld discussing her practices.

My practice is mixed media but almost always involves a lens-based element to it, as well as a strong engagement with space and architecture – and in particular a longstanding interest in the relationship between interior and exterior.

Since leaving art school I have only ever had studios for brief periods. I’ve worked from home for the last eight years, with the exception of using facilities for specialist processes I can’t do at home. I co-opt parts of my living space to use for whatever I need. But my domestic environment has also become an essential part of the work itself. At the moment I am working on a series of photographic works which I started last year – Inhale/Exhale – made in my living room and back garden. The inspiration for these was some beautiful double exposure photographs by Constantin Brâncuși, as well as a text that I had been reading, Through Vegetal Being, by Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder. There were some ideas in this text that felt really vivid for me: the necessity of breath, which immersion in plant life facilitates, and the capacity for that immersion to dissolve the usual boundaries between interior and exterior.

I can’t imagine having a studio now. So many artists these days have practices which are don’t require it. Perhaps this accounts partly for what seems to be have been a resurgence of interest in the domestic within contemporary art? In terms of ‘creative block’, like most other artists I have a number of commitments outside of my practice. Lack of time for creative practice is both a hardship and blessing in this sense! I go and do something else and by the time I have the opportunity to turn my attentions to my work again, some kind of direction, clarity or purpose has returned. In terms of objects or tools that are special to me, I have a few things which I’ve collected which sometimes make their way into works. I use both analogue and digital techniques, but the Inhale/Exhale works are made on an old Pentax SLR camera – which was actually my 21st birthday gift! It is lovely to think that I am still using it. I am a very un-technical artist in some ways, though. Just as I co-opt rooms in my house to use for what I need, I co-opt materials or processes to make the images or works that I have in mind.  I often put images through a number of transformative processes – scanning, digital recapture, etc. – and it is likely that these current works will be worked on in the same way, with the means of their production very much informed by whichever space they will be presented in eventually.

 

Discover more of Vicky ‘s work:

www.vickyfalconer.co.uk

 

Artists at Work
The Drawings Gallery
Until 15 July 2018

Courtauld Artists At Work: Alexandra Blum

With the opening of Artists at Work in our Drawings Gallery we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Alexandra Blum, Gallery Tutor in our Public Programmes team discussing her practices.

Alexandra drawing close to the Thames Barrier, 2018. Photo credit: Charles Chambers

Could you tell us about your practice – what media you work in, what subject matter you focus on, what inspires you?

Drawing is central to my practice, and to my research into spatial perception and the visualization of the passage of time.   I’m especially interested in urban space, particularly areas undergoing change, where time itself seems to become visible in the fabric of the city.

I love the binary nature of drawing, the way a drawing can be constructed around the presence and absence of the drawing material, so that the negative space becomes very tangible.  A form defined purely by surrounding marks, rather than being drawn in its own right, seems to evoke not only its current location and presence, but also suggests an imprint of where an object existed in the past, or might exist in the future.

I’m also fascinated by the way negative space emphasizes the emergent quality of a drawing.  Sometimes it feels as if completed drawings are still under construction, so that each mark becomes a trace of the observation process which was on-going as I tried to understand the space surrounding me as I drew.

Tell us about your working environment(s).

After having a studio in Dalston, east London, for 10 years, I’ve recently moved my studio close to the Thames Barrier in Woolwich, south east London.  It’s within an industrial estate and, amongst the light industry at work there today, there are also several beautiful, but decaying, Siemens Brothers factories, dating from the 1860s when they produced telegraph cables.

A little further up river is Angerstein Wharf, where large amounts of aggregate are still unloaded from barges onto huge conveyor belts protruding into the river. As the surroundings are so industrial, being in my studio feels a bit like working within a factory of artists, which is a galvanising and inspiring atmosphere to work within.

It’s also important to me to have a studio surrounded by other artists.  The layout of my studio is semi-open plan, which enables chance encounters with other artist’s work, and the conversations we have about each other’s practice are invaluable.

Alexandra Blum’s studio interior, Woolwich

Do you work anywhere other than, or in addition to, a studio – and if so, where?

At the moment, I’m spending a lot of my time working from direct observation outside on the banks of the Thames, and I love having a studio very close to the environment I’m working from, so that I can go backwards and forwards between the two.

It’s an extraordinary area to draw within. Looking back towards the city from the Thames Barrier, the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and beyond feel precariously poised on the horizon, apparently oblivious to the power of the tides and continual efforts of the industry at work down river. Everything down there is in flux and I’d like each drawing I am currently making out on location to be a multi-layered trace of the many moments in time which unfold around me, revealing the constant interactions between the massive manmade and natural forces in the area.

How does your working environment affect your art (if at all)?

I’m always on the lookout for new spaces to explore through drawing, and, because I often work outside from direct observation, my working spaces can change dramatically from one project to another.

A previous working environment which also had a huge impact on my work was the vast Dalston Square construction site in Hackney, east London, where I was artist in residence.  I spent three years drawing Dalston as it was torn apart and rebuilt, drawing from the street, within the construction site and within one of the completed flats, a home on the 17th floor. Drawing within the building site was a very exhilarating experience, literally climbing amongst the tower blocks as they were being built, like having my own mountainside in Hackney!

So, my working environment is essential to my practice: the space I’m surrounded by literally becomes the focus of my drawings.

Alexandra Blum ‘6.4.11 – 17th floor, the Collins’ flat, Dalston Square, London’, charcoal on paper, 59 x 84 cm

Are there any particular tools or objects you feel particularly passionate about and/or are central to your work?

Paper, a graphite stick and a knife to keep sharpening it with.

How do you deal with creative block?

Wandering through the city on foot is one of my favourite ways to discover areas I’d like to draw.  When I get stuck with a piece of work, I usually go for a walk until I discover something which surprises me.  Then I’ll start a new drawing, coming back to the drawing I couldn’t find the answer to later.

Alexandra Blum, Thames with birds (dreaming of Roelandt Savery), graphite on paper, 21 x 29.7 cm, 2017

 

Alexandra Blum, Retreat, graphite on paper, 21 x 29.7 cm, 2017

Alexandra Blum, Shelter, graphite on paper, 21 x 29.7 cm, 2017

 

Alexandra Blum, Industrial Inundation, 21 x 29.7 cm, 2017

Discover more of Alexandra’s work: 

www.alexblum.co.uk

Twitter @alexandrablum4

Facebook /alexandra.blum.73

Artists at Work
The Drawings Gallery
Until 15 July 2018

Courtauld Artists at Work: Millie Nice

With the opening of Artists at Work in our Drawings Gallery we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld.

First up we have Millie Nice who is an Educator working with our Public Programmes team.

Millie Could you tell us about your practice – what media you work in, what subject matter you focus on, what inspires you?

I’m an illustrator so the I use the media that responds best to the job; it can be digital, coloured pencils, markers or an enormous painted mural! But at the centre of it I just really love to draw so anything that I can make a good line with suits me. When I started I would only ever draw in pens or markers that wouldn’t allow me to hesitate or change my mind and I still tend to make work this way. It often means you have to draw something multiple times to get to the right one! I use my History of Art background a lot in my work, re-drawing objects and artworks from the past. I’m inspired by history but I like to bring in as much humour and character as I can and encourage people to laugh and have fun with artworks from the past.

Tell us about your working environment(s).

I have a small studio at home with a drawing table, a scanner and a computer; it’s very simple but I can be fairly messy so the less space I have the better! I also work from a print collective studios in south London which has been brilliant for working alongside other creatives. Being freelance and working from home is a fairly intense experience so it’s great to be able to work with other people and support each other in the ups and downs that come with making what you love.

Do you work anywhere other than, or in addition to, a studio – and if so, where?

Because I draw from museum objects and artworks a lot I often end up in museums in galleries; I will always draw from life where I can. It’s easier to absorb more of an object’s character if you sit with it for a while and I love watching other people react to the artworks in the gallery; I suppose it’s like a kind of audience research for me!

How does your working environment affect your art (if at all)?

When I was young it affected me in a very practical way; I was an art student working part-time as a museum steward and I would draw in the galleries when I was at work. I could only ever use pencils and I worked in small notebooks that I could quickly slip in my pocket and not get caught! I still carry a small notebook and pencil with  me all the time and they are mostly full of quick little ideas I might come back to or work up in the studio. Over time I realised I’d enjoyed drawing at work the most out of everything I’d created while I was studying and it taught me to love all the strange and unexpected things that happen when you’re drawing quickly on location and to appreciate all you can do with a simple pencil.

Are there any particular tools or objects you feel particularly passionate about and/or are central to your work?

I try not to get too attached to any particular material, I like to be adaptable and I enjoy that you can make a drawing with even the simplest of tools. I feel pretty passionate about my phone as a creative tool but only because I think it’s terrible! I often have to work from photographs as reference material and it’s never as engaging as the real thing. When I first got my phone I was constantly taking photos of things I didn’t have time to draw but I never ended up going back to them. Now I operate a strict ‘sketch it or forget it’ policy!

How do you deal with creative block?

I find a good deadline sorts that out fairly quickly! If I get stuck it’s usually because I’m worrying about details so I try to make things as simply and quickly as possible. I try to give all my ideas an immediate rough try like a sketch or a small test. If an idea is weak then a quick rough is all it really needs and then I put it aside; the stronger ideas are the ones I enjoy and I want to keep working on.

Discover more of Millie’s work: 

www.millienice.com 

Twitter @millieknice
Instagram @millie.nice

Artists at Work
The Drawings Gallery
Until 15 July 2018