Jul 12, 2021
In conversation with our artists in residency at The Columbia
What’s something you want to work on next?
“It’s going to be a book, a lifestyle coffee table book, about leisure and elevating leisure to an art form. I really believe that leisure is the future. We are doing less and less manual work, finding automated substitutions for it, the ultimate idea is to arrive at the place where you work less. It’ll be an accumulation of my visuals featuring all things leisure and hedonistic strives, exploring the personal commodities of my modern day muses. My subjects are always people that I know: it’s personal. I do see them as sublime goddesses, I really like the idea of elevating women and making them feel better about themselves. Even though there is a bit of decadence in the photos I think it’s done with humour — a good kind of decadence. I think it’s ok to enjoy life and I want people to feel at peace with themselves. Even though most of my work involves people, I don’t think it is direct portraits of them, it is rather situational photography that translates my excitement and vision of that particular moment.”
Photo: Photograph from Yulia Lebedeva’s Goddess series. Follow @ylebedeva to learn more about their practice.
How would you describe the aesthetic of your work?
“I would say it comes from the digital era: Google, Pinterest, Netflix mixed with the London Art Scene. The subjects are contemporary topics that are shaping our world: diversity, queer, equality, black lives matters… among others. The composition comes from traditional paintings, I am especially influenced by Romanticism and Pre-Raphaelite movements. However, my palette belongs to the digital world: pastels from Tumblr and fluorescent from Windows Paint. My digital experience does not stop at the colours, I create Virtual Reality environments in all of my paintings. This is a realm that not only allows me to expand my imagery and to stretch the concepts, but ultimately it contrasts this ideal painting with the world that we all live in.”
Photo: close-up from “Evasions of the Psyche” by Juls Gabs. Follow @julsgabs to see more of their practice.
Have you used the residency to try something new in your work?
“Yes, I’m using the residency to look at expanding the depth of field in my paintings. Before I embarked on these three months my work had a much flatter aesthetic and would probably be best described as ‘Pop Art’. Likewise, due to the relatively short time frame I have also changed my process as this tenure would usually only establish the research phase of a given project. I am therefore using my Instagram story archive as my image library and have created an algorithm to select which date I tackle. I am also mimicking the Instagram story ratio via stretcher dimensions. This is the first time I have worked with such a narrow canvas, and it is certainly making the expanded landscape much trickier to assimilate. Exploring my ‘virtual’ connectivity since the outbreak of Covid 19 and National Lockdown’s has also been a shift in theme as my work usually discusses intersectional feminist issues. Although exploring our isolation and diminishing mental health since the pandemic feels like a pertinent departure at present.”
Photo: zoom-in shot of a work-in-progress by Bex Massey. Follow @masseybex to see more of their practice.
Ben Cullen Williams
Where do you find your inspiration and how do you stay motivated during the restricted period?
“I find my inspiration from walking, looking, traveling, observing cities and the natural landscapes. I’m interested in reading technological and scientific studies, questioning the relationship between what I see, what I read and how they link. My compulsion is to just make, I’ve got to be constantly making things, a desire or need to be constantly making. Through making it helps me understand the world and understand aspects of the world in a conscious or subconscious way.”
Photo: prototype of a work-in-progress by Ben Cullen Williams. Follow @bencullenwilliams to learn more about their practice.
Have you adapted to the theme of human connectivity in your work to respond to the residency?
“I guess I have because I’ve gone through the archive in my camera roll and chosen images of people in my life, or used images they have taken of me to develop my current work. I would say it’s more about ‘Lost Connections’ with people in my life, its personal to me. Another element is the digital age, in relation to that I wanted to look at the digital image, across a few of the images I’ve made I’ve blurred the image to make it look like film stills, or to make it look like a moving image- the loading image. In recent year my work has always been in focus, this is softer impressionate approach.”
Photo: zoom-in shot of a work-in-progress by Ariane Hughes. Follow @arianehughes to learn more about their practice.