Tell me a little about your work.
My work is a constant evolution from one piece to the next. I see my practice as a life-long process of research and my creations as proof of the evolution of that research. My work has taught me a lot about how humans interact with inanimate objects, to the point where I have wanted to see how they would react when facing inanimate objects that give the illusion of life (through mechanical breathing). I work with organic and tactile materials (fur, fabric, glass, sand) and more recently with motors. I refer to my creations as ‘creaptures’ as they are somewhere in between creatures and sculptures. I base a lot of my research on texts, both fictional (i.e Le Petit Prince, The Sandman, The Yellow Wallpaper) and psychoanalytical (i.e Freud’s The Uncanny, Winnicott’s Playing and Reality); these are my ideal sources of inspiration.
You graduated with an MA from the City and Guilds of London Art School in 2011, how do you feel your work has progressed in the subsequent year?
I am pleased about the direction my work is taking and the confidence I am gaining along the way. When studying, you are given a lot more time to read, write and think before making work, now that I am not a student, the challenge is to make new work within short periods of time. It is crucial that I put my faith in the knowledge that I acquired at Art School and which I will carry on developing. I don’t believe in mistakes, for me everything is part of a long learning curve, you live, you learn. Since graduating I have pushed myself to make more ambitious and technically more advanced work.
You were the winner of the Catlin Art Prize 2012 public vote, congratulations! Tell me a bit about the work you exhibited there and how the win made you feel.
Mother HEB/ Loleta is a spherical glass fur filled ‘creapture’ nestled in sand and surrounded by smaller glass fur filled spheres. On close examination ‘Mother’ seems to be breathing (courtesy of a small hidden motor). I consider Mother HEB/Loleta to be the final piece in a series of static ‘Hairy Eyeballs’ I produced during my MA. A key quotation from Freud’s The Uncanny was the starting point for my piece: with regard to ‘the persons and things, the impressions, processes and situations that can arouse an especially strong and distinct sense of the uncanny in us…E. Jentsch singles out, as an excellent case, ‘doubt as to whether an apparently animate object really is alive and, conversely, whether a lifeless object might not perhaps be animate’.
With Mother HEB/ Loleta, I have tried to translate the intangibility of Freud’s words into the materiality of our physical word. I had to question what it means for something to seem alive, motion was key. Seeming to have taken on a life of its own, Mother HEB/ Loleta appears uncannily to be a threatening creapture peacefully sleeping, emanating a subtle yet thrilling purring sound, which is even better than I could ever have anticipated.
The work’s title, Mother HEB (for Hairy Eye Ball)/ Loleta refers to the fact that the large sphere acts like a maternal figure to my whole series but also here to these smaller furry eggs surrounding her. The name also almost sounds like it could be referring to a ‘mother hen’. ‘Loleta’ was the coat’s late owner; I think the use of her name gives an added sense of presence and life to the work.
I chose sand as the environment in which these pieces live in for several reasons, sand is very tactile, something which works well with fur and glass (which is made from sand), the other soft, sensual and organic materials I have used. I also meant sand to allude to E.T.A Hoffman’s ‘The Sand-Man’, an uncanny tale of a monster who removes children’s eyes at night after throwing sand at them.
Because my work is about people’s sensations and reactions, about pushing them to follow their instincts and listen to the way they feel, I was delighted to receive the Public Vote Award. The work spoke to people the way I had hoped it would and more. It was fascinating for me to see that amongst my supporters there were as many who were seduced by the work as those who were repulsed by it. Mother HEB/ Loleta made them feel something and that’s all that matters.
Obviously it also goes without saying that winning the prize will help me to carry on make more work, and for that I am immensely grateful to Justin Hammond, the Art Catlin team and my voters to have made that possible.
What inspires you?
You; him; her; them. Life; sex; birth; death; feelings and sensations- what thinkers say about all of that, what writers imagine these could involve, how artists translate these into materials, how materials make us feel.
Tell me something no one knows about you.
There is one material that will never fail to make my eyeballs itch: fur, ironic, right!
What is your favourite place in London?
I was asked that same question a year ago in another interview to which I’d replied ‘my bed’, good things simply don’t change.
Have you got any current or upcoming shows in London or the UK?
Yes I have three shows coming up all of which I’m really excited about as they involve new work, working with new artists and new curators, and have challenged my practice in one way or another.
So don't miss...You blow me away, Doors Showcase, 20 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3DU which runs: 7 June - 14 July
and The Yellow Wallpaper, The Cob Gallery, 205 Royal College Street, London NW1 0SG which runs: 22 June - 21 July
All images courtesy of Adeline de Monseignat.