Interview with Hannah Shakir
In the midst of preparing for her new show ‘Floored’, we speak to Abigail Box in her studio surrounded by the working progresses, which will be displayed in West London at ‘Morgan London’ 29th April – 18th July 2014. This will be premier exhibition in a series of Pop-ups that DegreeArt.com will be holding this year.
“I have got a time lapse going the whole time so that will be about 8 weeks long” Abigail excitedly says as we enter her studio in East London. The minute you walk in you are immediately engulfed by the reticulating patterns and giant tigers that she is avidly plugging away at in preparation for the show – “In between doing that I take a lot of stills,” promptly highlighting today’s technological impact on artists documenting every step of their journey.
Continually inspired by the use of technology in her work, Abigail explores the manipulation of image through Photoshop, which is evident in her new ‘Floored’ series, as a continuation from her previous ‘Gif’ works. “Right back from my last exhibition with DegreeArt, that was all based on collage. That is, sort of the beginning of where my work comes from. I like taking things out of context, and cutting things out of shiny magazines. I like the surfaces involved and the mish-mash of things layered with each other.” Continuing on the development of collage Abigail elaborates, “In recent times it’s become about digital surface – I no longer cut out things from magazines, I collage in Photoshop. That’s become a really big part of how I envision images. I feel like I should be able to copy and paste in real life.”
Throughout Abigail’s work it’s evident that there is a faux reality going on, with distorted backgrounds and placement of objects in the work. Explaining how this series explores movement and direction on the canvas this, the painter states, “…you get used to being able to manipulate very easily. I played on the 2D/3D situation, and being able to take a tile of sorts and stretch it, and the way your mind works it, transforms it into this 3D appearing element, ‘cause there is such an axis involved, that, again uses the elements of movement and direction.”
Abigail’s new works all incorporate a patterned floor, whether it be Victorian floor tiles or parquet flooring, combined with a tiger and in some cases a pot plant. With her fluid depiction of the tigers, it is evident that the artist is looking beyond the creature at times explaining, “The idea of using tigers is that they become an extension of the pattern, and I quite like the blending of the patterns – like a soup of imagery.”
There is an element of luxury to take into consideration when observing Abigail’s works as she has juxtaposed expensive flooring, the idea of having domesticated wild cats, but also a captivity of nature with the presence of the plant pots, which the artist relates back to her love of “bling”, hilariously pointing out, that she must seem like some sort of “Northern townie”, elaborating on this, “The idea of the pieces being luxurious, that does hark back to shiny, glossy magazines, that are very rich in texture.” Abigail also puts this down to the use of varying textures. “Most of them use those three components, the large surface of the floors, the stripes of the tiger, and then a plant. So there are different textures. The plants are a really good example of that, as I’ve been using very waxy plants, so they’ve got this really glossy surface in themselves. And all of those clash with each other…”
The playful artist explains the use of the title ‘Floored’ for her latest series, “Quite clearly, there are a lot of ‘flaws’ involved in the composition and there is a play on words, with the pieces having floors, and [also] errors. All the pieces are structurally incorrect. For example in ‘Top Layer’ nothing fits together quite right. Some of the other ones are a little more subtle, such as ‘Floored’ where the floor has been tipped upside down – and I guess I would like to believe, that because everything is so bright, you could be floored by them.”
Going back to her use of Photoshop and a projector, Abigail explains further her enthusiasm for the software, “I like the layers that you use in Photoshop, it’s an interesting comparison between the 2D of the computer screen and the surface of the canvas. I like the idea that we stare at this space a lot in our lives. I was happy to think that my surroundings were affecting the way I saw things. I’ve tried to let that affect the way that I compose pictures and the way that I construct things together.”
Aware of her alternate reality, Abigail enthuses on the idea that she knows she can’t really have a room with no vanishing point, distorted perspectives, with a tiger lounging around, but resolving this the exciting artist frankly states “It’s the endless quest for creating the impossible.”