(Interview) Chantelle Purcell in conversation with Unit 3 Projects | Mar 2013


Chantelle Purcell: Can you tell us a bit more about Unit 3 projects?

Pamela Carr: Unit 3 is an old printing works in Bow. When we first moved in our studio floors needed to be scrubbed free of gunk before we could start work, and this got us all talking. Within a year we had collaborated together on a really successful open studio event and had a few BBQ’s in the car park as the cement lorries thundered past. Several collaborations grew out of this energy and ASC provided us with the Unit 3 project space because they believed we had the collaborative energy to organise and use the space well.  It is this joint energy that we bring to the Degree Art residency.  It will be exciting to see the positive and negative energy moving between us and our different ways of working.

CP: What projects have you previously worked on within the Unit 3 project space?

Abigail Box: Earlier this year Samuel and I did a show together where we simply planned to use it as an opportunity to exhibit some of our recent work, but one conversation lead to another and before we knew it we had drawn parallels between lots of our ideas. At the time I was painting from video footage of explosions, reinventing that energetic imagery in painting and Samuel had been drawing from live dancers, documenting movement through mark making. We felt we were both working with translating one sort of gesture into another and decided to curate the exhibition so that it put emphasis on some of those ideas. One of the biggest reasons that the Unit 3 Project Space is important to us is that it is something we run together and it’s encouraging in terms of getting us to consider taking on things like joint projects. The whole experience, in collaborating, took us both in some unexpected directions, in fact that is where the title has come from, ‘In All Directions’.

PC: ‘A beaten path to…’ which was an interactive installation 4m long.   Earth for the path was collected from Bethnal Green and Bow and the pathway was made from the vegetable and fruit trays which are sent to the East End markets from around the world. By walking this path people joined the subtle traces of their energy and intention with other people’s and ‘A Beaten Path to…’ was formed. Then Jennifer Farmer and I collaborated on a short film: terra firma. ‘A beaten path to…’ formed the background for this split screen, real-time film exploring the point when innocence becomes knowledge and every experience leads to a new unknown.

Silvia Krupinska: I am yet to do my project in the Unit 3 Projects which is conveniently planned straight after our ‘In All Directions’ residency. I’ve four weeks of making and experimenting planned for Unit 3 space, which I’m very pleased about, as I believe it will flow nicely from residency to project. I can link up my work produced and take it even further. At the same time, I’ve another series of sculptures and 2D works I’m working on for an exhibition in Slovakia. I’m planning to put on an event to share my making, of course all are welcome.

CP: Your exhibition seems very much concerned with the dynamics and possibilities that occur on the periphery of working collaboratively.
What do you think will occur from this conversation? And what do you hope to achieve though out the residency?

Hormazd Narielwalla: Never has there been a time like now, where hybrid practices have been able to creatively speak to each other.  The boundaries are slowly diminishing between strict constructed mediums. I’m primarily a collage artist but I’m making a sculptural piece for this exhibition challenging the norms of traditional sense of collage – I guess what I’m trying to say is that projects like Unit 3 encourage me to start thinking outside the box, by seeing the methodologies and process of other practitioners. This is a great opportunity to step outside a comfort zone.

AB: I think it’s partly the not knowing which is most exciting. We’re all curious as to what will come from working in the space together – how much the conversation surrounding the work that we are planning on making will collide and inspire us towards unexpected work that we might begin to make because of that collaborative atmosphere.

John Appleton: I hope to form a new selection of art making process’s from this experience, working alongside and around each other. Letting each artist infiltrate  my production and the outcome to be revealed.

SK: Exciting part for me is that we will be having this conversation. Things are done and said, artists exchange ideas and thoughts. I find this action itself rewarding and thought provoking each time. I’m confident, that sharing of the Execution Room between us (virtually and physically), while we’re making will enrich and inspire us all.

CP: Your practices are very diverse. Can you give us an idea of your individual practices and how each of you will intend to approach the central theme of the residency, ‘Gesture’?

PC: My work is about the subtle energies of the intermediate space, the space between the foot and the ground , the space between the need and the fulfilment. Energies that are only seen out of ther corner of the eye, how they form and reform continually.   Gesture is about energy and intent which are central to my work.

HN: I make collages out of bespoke Savile Row tailoring patterns of customers now deceased. I divorce them from their tailoring context and view them as abstracted shapes of humans, which become the primary source material and canvas in my artworks. The circles of life and death, procreation and sex are core raw actions – gestures that make us humans. This is the primary notion that I will be working on. The catacombs of Europe, the preservation and reminder of death are the inspiration of a sculpture I will work on, where I will make skulls out of the brown paper patterns. On the flip the act of procreation will be depicted through the cut and paste of the tailors patterns to make impressions of female and male anatomy.

AB: I’m currently interested in how our understanding of one thing might affect the way that we see or perceive another . Transcending between gestures. I’m so often on a computer that I feel as though I should be able to perform actions like ‘copy and paste’ in life outside of the screen. On Photoshop I am able to easily stretch and contort imagery into impossible directions and I go into auto drive when working with multiple layers. The new craze for making .gifs is a whole new mind set in terms of how I think about constructing the images that I paint from. I’d like to explore the possibility/impossibly of making those gestures in making paintings, looking at painting as both a surface and as an limitlessly inventive space.

SK: I’m planning to explore two different pathways during my residency with the theme of ‘Gesture’ written all over them. First one based on exploring (revisiting) of my identity and my roots. I’ll be using maps and working with those as shapes appear. Furthermore, I’ll be setting in in the mapped out shapes, to me precious (but crushed) recycled Abalone shells with their strong gestures behind them. Secondly, I’ll be reconnecting with the nature, revisiting some of the Margate beaches where I’d done a number of installations before. I’ll make a series of photographs including some of my From the Bottom of the Sea sculptures, all set in tune with their surroundings. But one never knows how ideas progress, when the conversation of our residency begins. Follow us on the social media or pop by in the gallery and you’ll be first to know!

JA: I am engrossed in the techniques and influences of Old master painting juxtaposed with contemporary backdrops. The anamorphic and the Gothic are very relative to the concepts and compositions I make. My idea of gesture is interpreted as a rhetorical stance, something inferred but not explained.

CP: How will the artists who are working offsite and externally from the DegreeArt space contribute to the residency?

HN: I will remain in the mother battleship – our studios in Bow. The important aspect of this residency is to nurture a conversation through which work evolves. This conversation doesn’t need to be face-to-face or in close intimate contact. It can be had through various other ways – the internet and social media, along with visiting the space. We also plan to update each other on new discoveries and things we might uncover.

JA: Working in the studio at the unit 3 spaces , will give a reflective response to  the works made throughout the residency. Instead of working directly alongside someone in a shared space, I can flit in and out taking cues from the works creating going back then ,to the studio and reassembling the ideas and information. Hopefully this process will show a common thread through the works made in the degree art space.

CP: Would you say that this residency is a celebration of the possibilities and ways of working for artists?

AB: When Isobel and Chantelle first suggested to us the idea of doing a group residency I straight away thought back to how much I had enjoyed painting in the project space with Samuel in the lead up to our joint exhibition. Despite all working in the same building we mostly work in our own individuals studios by ourselves and it can be very solitary. It was a nice change to work with someone else in the room, especially late at night when the studios are very calm. We worked with the radio on, quietly focusing on our own pieces and having a chat every so often about what we were thinking. That kind of atmosphere would be a nice thing to share with anyone interested in not just art but the business of making it and what it’s like to practice at being an artist.

CP: What can the public and community get involved with? Can you tell us more about the array of events / workshops you have planned across the residency?

AB: The Pecha Kucha style talks (23 April) will be a chance to hear a selection of the artist talk about their work. The Pecka Kucha format means each artist will have 20 slide with 20 seconds to talk about each slide, the idea being that there is no time to be boring, the aim is to be concise and interesting. Although, there’s also plenty of room to make no sense and to be confusing… but hopefully that’s not boring either. Then I’m excited for the discussion titled ‘But What Kind Of Art’ (4 May) I think this is going to be very relevant in terms of what the exhibition title ‘In All Directions’ stands for. We’re going to be asking questions about what it means to practice between disciplines and consider the interesting things can come out of blurring the lines between creating paintings and writing scripts.

CP: What is next for Unit 3?

AB: I think we’re planning an Open Studios weekend for in September. So that will be a chance for people to come see our usual studio spaces …and the Jim’ll Mix It cement lorries.


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