What were the formative periods of your training?
I loved painting, to the point that I was obsessed by it. But it was a little bit like ‘kill your darlings’. I needed to stop it. The technique was improving but there was nothing there. So I started sculpting with egg shells. Taking the symbol of the egg as a re-birth. That started at Parsons and carried on at The Slade, before it became an obsession of mine and a point of research for my practice: the egg, fertility and new beginnings.
How did that come about?
I am really interested in folds and creases, in particular creases in the flesh so I always find excuses to paint surfaces with creases, and am nowadays exploring that in my stone carving for instance.
What inspired your film 'In The Flesh'?
I was on residency in Pietrasanta, Italy, when I first visited marble workshops. I came across a beautiful photography book by Joel Leivick on marble quarries, in which Dr Alison Leitch wrote an essay inspired by her interviews with quarry workers where the mountain is described as 'having a soul' and 'weeping at night'. I liked the idea of these big tough guys being so sensitive and respectful towards their mountain.
I also love the idea of the 'intimate immensity', the way Bachelard describes it in his 'Poetics of Space', and the idea of the quarry workers working away in the mountain's fertile womb. All of this made me want to dig deeper on the subject.
What are the main principles of putting on a really good show?
I think about what makes it coherent with my work so far and what makes it new. It is hard because it is so personal.
I have a friend who can sense if an object has good or bad energy. He says you can photograph a piece of art, it can emanate energy - so it has to be authentic.
What would you say are some of the biggest mistakes in the art world?
I still meet people who think artists are lazy and smoke weed. I am always really surprised as I feel like I am so busy. It shocks me.
Or the myth of sculpting. If I tell them sewing is sculpting they don't get it. They think it is always has to be with stone or clay.
Who is an artist you hugely admire?
Louise Bourgeois. The reason why I really like her is that her work is very honest. You just feel it. When I look at an artwork I place myself in the creating process. And every time I am in front of a Louise Bourgeois, I have this connection almost as though it is a living organism. Every time I look at one of her pieces, I feel the energy- it is charged. The quality is there, undeniably.
I have also met Jerry Gorovoy, who was her assistant for 30 years. He would talk about her with such pride. Jeremy never touched her work, she always did everything by herself which is in itself so admirable. 98 years old and still not letting anyone near her work. It wasn't until later on that she became known, which meant she never had external pressures so in some ways it's a real blessing.
Tell us about your education
I started with my Bachelor in Literature at UCL. As part of that I did a year in Milan. I then took a gap year between my Bachelor and my Masters where I went to The Slade and Parsons and did a short course in Fine Art. Then I went straight to the studio after my Masters in Fine Art at City and Guilds of London Art School.
Let's go right back to the beginning to your time in Monaco, with your family - what were some of the lessons that still stick with you now that you may have received from your parents?
My father was a lawyer, but he had always wanted to be an artist. The lesson I learnt was that if you have this urge, you should follow it.
Artists would often come to our home, such as Roberto Matta. He was this guy with a big personality and lots of stories. When I was around 8, 9 years old, I was already drawing so my father knew I would enjoy his presence. I remember when my father was thanking Roberto for a painting, he asked him to sign it which made Roberto super angry.. so he signed it 20 times to make a point. I just could not understand the dynamic at the time.
Growing up what was your ideology of what an artist was?
I always felt like I was an artist, there was never a beginning for me. As a child I touched every material I could find. I have this habit of being curious about everything.
If you had 4 weeks to work with me. What would my training look like to help me grow as an artist?
I would tell you to do your research - find books that talk about your point of interest and narrow it down to the essential. Then make sure that the work is as good as the research. Make sure you surround yourself with people of quality and knowledge. If you have those two main pillars, the third one is confidence; practice your work with confidence.
What will your final piece look like for the ‘House of Penelope’ exhibition ?
Penelope was a very smart woman, in Greek Mythology she was is the daughter of Icarius and Periboea and wife of Odysseus. She knew deep down that her husband would come back. Her mission was to push away all 106 suitors who came knocking on her door, trying to convince her to marry one of them, so she came up with this strategy: she would choose one of them the day she would be done weaving this shroud. So she would weave by day and, away from prying eyes, unweave at night.
I took a lot of inspiration from my ‘Book of symbols’. When you weave you have the spinning wheel for the threads. Since Penelope is all about patience and waiting for Ulysses to return, I wanted to explore the notion of movement and rotation. I got inspired by the notion of spinning wheels.. so I am frosting 12 moons. And you will be invited to lounge on the bed, Penelope’s bed. So essentially it is a very meditative installation.
Are you in London and interested in organising artist studio visits and discovering the active emerging art scene?