I’m delighted to announce that I have now joined the board of Trustees at the Florence Trust as Artist Trustee. Having gone through the program in 2010 – 2011 its a great honour to be asked back to play a part in the future of the Trust. I feel my time at the FT was a turning point in my practice, where my work developed considerably and I left with the confidence from the experience to continue onwards. This was down to a mix of the stunning St Saviours environment, a strong and close knit group of fellow artists and the time to push forward my practice. For this reason I was always willing to give something back, as it happens this role enables me be involved in the program in a more official capacity.
As a former residency artists I will act a link between the current studio artists and the board of Trustees, I will also be working on setting up the Alumni group to make the most of the large network of artists who have been through the residency. I have been working on the social media side of things, an area the Trust has so far resisted entering. We now have a dedicated Facebook page and Twitter account as well as a blog. These will be used to share information on the activities of the current studio artists both in and outside of the studios as well as alumni exhibitions.
There are many great stories of Florence Trust artist’s successes and I hope that through these new strands of communication we’ll be able to share them, in turn promoting a fantastic arts charity who 20 years in are still growing and helping artists from around the world develop their practices. I’m looking forward to using this role as an excuse to visit the studios more often, getting to know all the artists and have a hand in the future of the program.
Here’s a recent interview I did for Claudio Parentela’s blog, you can see more interviews here www.elvisinh.blogspot.com
Well, first of all please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born on the southern edge of London, a world of commuters and slightly wider streets. I spend most of my time in east London these days where I have my studio practice and do a bit of technician work.
How would you describe your work?
I’m interested in the city and the role it plays in our lives. I enjoy walking paths and looking for things that others may miss, subtle oddities in the environment that take my imagination. My current body of work has taken River Thames mooring structures (dolphins) as an motif for a forgotten past, one of the remaining elements of the River’s (and the city’s) shipping heritage. Still rooted to the mudbanks but gently rotting away with the movement of the tide. There’s a form of romantic longing and storytelling held within these structures for me. The paintings I’ve make as a result walk a line between the heavy ugly brutality of their construction (rotting and rusting colours) and a simplistic beauty in their form.
Did somebody encourage you to become an artist?
I wouldn’t say one person did as such, but growing up I enjoyed playing with art materials. I would always be painting and drawing on family holidays even from a young age. While at school it became apparent that the only subject I really cared about was the art lesson so I just took each opportunity to study further until I got to the stage that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
What is your favorite medium?
I work mainly with oil paint and use resins to create a flat layered surface to work on to. I enjoy the constant discovery of the medium, the way it can be manipulated to perform in numerous ways on the same canvas.
Generally speaking, where do your ideas come from?
The world around me informs my ideas, often from walking somewhere with my camera and having an appreciation for the undervalued.
How long does it take to complete a piece?
With long drying times especially using resin I usually have a few canvases on the go at once. They can take anything from a couple of weeks to few months. I don’t tend to come back to unfinished pieces, if they aren’t working for me I move on to something that has more potential.
Who are your favorite artists…and who are some artists you are currently looking/listening to?
My tastes are split down the middle between ‘clean’ abstraction (Tobias Lehner, Thomas Scheibitz) and a more out their ‘messy’ approach (Albert Oehlen, Anselm Kiefer). I guess I should also say I’m particular into German artist if that wasn’t already apparent… I’m also into the work of Gert & Uwe Tobias who are known for producing large woodcuts but their output also includes sculpture, collage, drawing all tided together through interest exhibition design.
Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
I’m not represented but try to be proactive when it comes to exhibiting opportunities. I had a painting in the London Art Fair recently and have two group shows coming up in April/May, both are the debut exhibitions for new project spaces in South London; Collectible at Zeitgeist Project Space in New Cross and Past and Present at Occupy my Time in Deptford. I’m also looking forward to making my first sculpture which will be on display at WW Gallery’s Patio Projects in July, which is part of a public art commission series.
Do you have any ‘studio rituals’? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?
I prefer to get into the studio early and ease into the day by looking at what I’ve been working on, I also need to get in early as I know I can procrastinate with my ritual of catching up on the news so I try to build that into my day. I usually have music playing while working but don’t feel that I need a particular sound to get me in the mood for work, if I’m in the mood I’ll get stuff done, the music just keeps me going.
What is your favorite a) taste, b) sound, c) sight, d) smell, and e) tactile sensation?
A hard question to answer.. a/ taste is best when when unexpected flavours work together but I like spicy things b/ the sound of the sea, seagulls & a gentle wind blowing c/ an uninterrupted landscape of rolling hills and openness d/ burning coals (or the non romantic answer – hot tarmac & petrol) e/ cold soft powdery snow.
Do you have goals that you are trying to reach as an artist, what is your ‘drive’? What would you like to accomplish in your ‘profession’?
I push myself to be better, to enjoy the journey and grow with each opportunity. I am very driven and like most artists I never really switch off, but at that level of involvement with your own practice and the surround artworld you have to love it to keep the level of energy up.
When have you started using the internet and what role does this form of communication play for you, personally, for your art, and for your business?
I suppose I am part of first home computer generation (a child of the 80s) . I was an early starter with websites and actually brought my domain name in my mid teens while at school to show my developing art activities. I now rely on the web to communicate what i’m up to and have found Twitter to be a great tool for networking, I also blog regularly and use Mail Chimp for exhibition mailing list. I find using a mix of social media and websites keeps me connected and up to date with goings on and helps get my work to new audiences (such as being asked to take part in online interviews!).
What do you obsess over?
Career, life/work balance, quality of work produced etc. Its all to easy for an artist to get obsessed by everything but generally I try to keep a balanced head and get on with it.
Do you have prefered working hours? Do you pay attention to the time of the day or maybe specific lighting?
I recently did a year long residency at the Florence Trust (a charitable artist studio program in a Grade 1 listed church in North London), while there I worked full days up to 7 days a week. An amazing experience but not possible for a sustained existence living in an expensive city. I’m a freelance art technician so now have a mix of odd days off in the week, evenings and weekends. I prefer an early start and have full days but realise I have to make do whenever I have the opportunity.
Do you do commissioned works?
I’ve done a few bits for friends and family but even those I found stressful and incongruous with my usual way of working.
Any tips for emerging artists?
A visiting tutor said to me on my foundation that the only reason why he didn’t get further with his art is he didn’t have the energy for it. At the time I was worried I didn’t have the drive and determination to make a go of it but I knew I enjoyed making work. Over time I saw people around me get opportunities and have some form of success, as a young artist a group of peers is an invaluable thing, a great motivator and education in the workings of the system. Don’t expect too much too soon but love what you do and observe others. Don’t wait for opportunities but create them – organise shows, studio groups, meet people and engage.