My main occupation is scenography. I design sets, costumes and video for performance; mainly new writing and devised work. I love the collaborative nature of theatre but I think it’s important to maintain a personal fine art practice alongside it, not necessarily for public exhibition or sale but in order to keep asking myself who I am as an artist and what I have to offer my collaborators. So when it came to finding something to show at Bow Arts Open Studios 2016, I decided to share some of this work.
It’s always tricky to know what to show. I share a studio at Bow Arts with Simon Daw, another theatre designer who has a visual art practice running alongside his scenographic work. We’ve had a great many discussions about this over the years, and between us have shown models, costume elements and videos, sometimes separately and sometimes reflecting the work we do together. This time we both independently set ourselves the challenge of showing some visual art, rather than the the documentation of a live performance and/or the process of making it.
Simon made a series of remarkable sculptures, using 3D printing and programmed light and sound to create fantastical structures of miniature engineering. His work showed the influence of his scenographic background while firmly planting its flag in visual art. My display was still clearly tethered to the day job. I’ve been doing a lot of painted textures for video projections – not least because by coincidence I recently designed two shows about flight. In fact I showed some of those videos at last year’s Open Studios. This has led to me making some paintings that experiment with wet pigment and the patterns that emerge outside the maker’s control, investigating the visual parallels between these and the incredible views opened up to us by flight and satellite images. I’ve also started keeping bits of rejected or unrealised models from the design process; objects that not only have a pleasing sculptural quality but that suggest fragments of narrative, a possible space for some kind of imaginary performance.
Here are a few snapshots I took on the day itself plus some I took afterwards with a more camera-friendly set-up.