With the tennis at Wimbledon and Euro 2012 behind us, and the Olympics around the corner, games are centre-stage at the moment. With this in mind the Core Gallery has curated a show where artists have produced works that have a sense of playfulness about them, whether it’s the ability to interact with them or whether they simply play with your mind.
How did you get into art?
That’s a surprisingly tricky question, when I try to pinpoint one reason or moment it seems to glide away from me elusively. As long as I remember I was creating things, and it was my parents who encouraged my creativity from a very young age. But I do recall the first time I was inspired to truly pursue art as my life’s work – during Saatchi’s Sensation exhibition, so I guess I have the Young British Artists to thank too. I remember being in awe of a Jeff Koons metal dog-balloon, the tactile contrast between the shiny metal and the lightness of a balloon is still deeply engrained in my practice.
You use a variety of media for your work from glass cubes to dollar bills. How do you select what to work with and what do you have against paintbrushes?
You are right I do seem rather anti-paintbrush don’t I! A lot of my work is about materials on some level – I am fascinated by tactile surfaces and reading the details, so very often the ‘media’ becomes the starting point or inspiration for a piece of artwork. For example, I create sculptures using old books which I re-write by carving into them, or reorganising the surface text of money to display a new message – two very different materials and results, but a similar idea behind the pieces.
You use cut up dollars in your work, is there a specific reason why you’ve chosen US over UK currency? And is it legal?
Well…. It is technically a teeny bit naughty to cut up money – but I’m not particularly aiming to be subversive. The use of money in art is well established, and it allows me to link into themes such as the worth of art, the reality (or fantasy) of value, art as currency, and what happens to the value of a material once an artist has altered it.
I had an exhibition in the States and upon my return I had a pocket full of crumpled up dollar bills. In London, my handful of paper was worthless – not in the value it represents, but because I could not exchange it for anything. So naturally I thought ‘how can I incorporate it into an artwork?’ I began devising a playful piece that linked into the questions we all have about worth and value, not purely in terms of the economy, but also more subjectively to us as individuals.
Somehow the dollar being so familiar but foreign in the UK is significant to the way the artwork is perceived, and it provokes a different response than if I had used British notes. The artworks entice people to re-view and perhaps read a dollar for the first time ever.
Tell us about your latest piece on display at this exhibition?
The ‘Rubik’s’ series of sculptures play with representing time as a cross between a calendar and a Rubik’s Cube. While I was making the first sculpture, ‘Rubik’s Years’, it seemed to take on a life of its own, growing quite organically every day.
The piece in ‘Games People Play’ is based more strongly on a Rubik’s cube form, using colour on its different facets. The game of life can be chaotic, and I was searching for the perfect metaphor to illustrate the apparently haphazardness of life; puzzling but with some sense of overall order or direction being there if you stand back. And I found it in the Rubik’s Cube.
You’re shortly relocating to Singapore what inspired you to move away from the world’s greatest city?
Yes, I am immensely excited to be setting up a second studio on the other side of the world, I will be working on projects in both locations and creating links and ties between the two – through my own work and also through the artists and organisations I am working with in Singapore.
Whilst the traditional centres of the art world such as London and New York will always be the art capitals, recent times have seen the eyes of the art world turn to the East for new stimulus. I will always be truly a Londoner, but in my search for a second base for my art practice, Singapore’s amazing location and growing importance as a centre for contemporary art in Asia caught my eye. Singapore is also a key vantage point for the exchange and confluence of ideas between East and West – something close to my heart.
I believe that a stronger connection between Singapore and the art world I currently work within – London – will be a catalyst for an exciting new avenue for the arts in both locations, and for the development of my own artistic practice.