The Store was fortunate this week to have a talk from an Installation artist named Anji Archer, who has shown work in spaces in London and around the UK and had much experience in how to get your work shown and funded which will be helpful when we come to start thinking about our end of year shows and other pieces we create in the future.
Anji started off telling us about her creative background and education and i found it most interesting that she never used traditional gallery spaces, even when she was studying she sourced an old house to create an installation in for her final show, this showed her initiative in sourcing the house, gaining the permission of the owner who happened to be the pub next door ( it was a derelict house) and gaining funding on making the house safe for public entry and funding for her work.
She originally studied a technical textiles course at University where she learnt to weave and how to make tapestries and all technical textiles knowledge, but she decided to go to the arts area of the university in her own time and learn other skills to combine with her work such as welding. She wanted to stray from technical textiles in order to create fine art work, and this was unheard of but she did it and made an installation piece combining weaving and welding for her end of year show. The reason for Anji’s choice to do fine art was that she felt too stuck in commercialism, this choice clearly paid off because after university she got a fellowship at Dixwells where she created art for 4 years. She then went on to enter an MA at the University of Westminster where she had to write a project proposal a bit like our FMP. This is the project where she used the derelict house to explore the idea of what a “home” was, she very luckily recieved funding from the fellowship at Dixwells for this project, this shows how we shouldnt be afraid to ask around for funding when creating our own work, for example we could create something featuring a companies logo somewhere and they might fund us in return for the publicity!
She wanted to turn the old building into a fun and welcoming environment, i can understand this because the art i love most is the art that makes me feel good and i can have fun with. She played around with notions of childhood and family and created a family presence and it was very impressive that everything in the house she made or found herself right down to the curtains in the kitchen. She also makes boundaries, and she enjoys making these boundaries to see if people will cross them and want to enter the world she creates, for example she put flour along the sink to see if anything would be brave enough and confident enough to touch it and leave imprints regardless of it being someones work. She showed us that you dont have to be precious about your work because a reaction whether it be good or bad means your work has touched somebody, and if it can get someone to interact with it on a personal level its done its job. She used alot of found objects in this piece and all her pieces, the nursery one freaked me out a little because she made a crib in it, but it was strange shaped and uncomfortable looking, to fit the obscure shape of the attic room.
She “designs things to fit a space regardless of functionality” this is a good artist for our space project because she breaks down the space and responds to it as a space, without thinking about what the place was she just looks at the space itself.
She also talked about how she makes contradictions in her work, which i really like in art and am considering exploring for my FMP. In my space project even i am using the case to contradict that Beijing is a large city, because i am managing to fit what it meant to me in a tiny suitcase.
She had many other exhibitions such as “little Sister poor soul” in which she responds to Catholicism , which was inspired by images she found at a car boot sale from a religious mental health hospital. She uses alot of bird cages in this to reference the notion of being trapped. this is an image of a suitcase she used- which references to my own space project where i am using a suitcase! she combines videos with her work sometimes to create more of an atmosphere in her installations.
One of her most famed installations is that called “Wake Up Time” which followed the tragic death of her partner, i think she was very brave to take on something so sad and close to her heart and honor her partner in this way. The exhibition was one where she created boundaries again but did not want these boundaries crossed, i think this shows her emotional attachment to the project because it utilised some of the things belonging to her late partner, she very cleverly displayed this work using string to create the boundaries but in a design that referenced the crash scene where the incident happened.
Anji clearly puts alot of her emotion into her work and this gives it a real purpose that i haven’t seen recently in some contemporary art. It was certainly an insight into how a contemporary artist experiments with different techniques and i hadnt thought at all about funding for work until Anji mentioned it so it was a very worthwhile talk!