WIA met up with Annie Attridge to chat about her work and her artistic inspirations. Be quick and you can see Annie’s series of playful, cheeky, naughty, sexy statues ‘should of could of would of’ at Body, Kristin Hjellegjerde gallery until the end of the week. Then next year, from 10 Jan, 6-9 PM in ‘If You Can’t Stand the Heat’. This exhibition is being curated by artists Paloma Proudfoot and Lindsey Mendick in collaboration with curator Ruth Pilston. Roaming Projects. 11 Bohemia Place, London, E8 1DU.
Attridge has also been awarded: 2017-2018 Peer Forum Opportunity at Camden Arts Centre
What are you doing today?
I’m in my studio most days, I have my coffee and then away I go.
At the moment I’m working in slip drawings, which is like clay. You wet it down so it becomes like paint. I use it as a drawing tool, like watercolours, and really getting out what I want to make as a sculpture. It’s never set in stone anyway, there’s always fluidity to it, that initial idea. It’s a practical process, a spring board or play ground to get ideas out.
I think you’ve got to be quite open to change. I normally make lots of mess in my studio. and then spend the rest of the time looking for things and tidying up!
Tell us about your creative process.
I’m seduced by materials. I think the process, my love for materials, is like having a love affair with life. That’s what materials are for me. A way of communicating. I think finding new relationships with materials is a really interesting way of staying interested in your process for your work.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
Most of it gets done in my head. It’s a bit like a rabbit warren! And then in my studio. To have the kind of freedom and privacy to just make anything. The decision making that goes on, it’s a very private space for me. I love my studio. But I can work anywhere. I can work in a sketchbook, but I do really like having a studio. I’ve had it for years.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
I’m really excited by everything I do and can get quite obsessed by. It consumes a lot of my thinking, almost like it’s engraved on my eyelids. I go to bed thinking about my work and wake up thinking about it.
Sometimes it can be like a lover’s relationship. You have to go away and come back to it. All my projects are done a way to keep you involved in them.
I remember doing a big drawing for the ‘Baroque’ show that Michael Petry curated at the Royal Academy Schools gallery. We decided it would be a great idea for me to do a big drawing in situ, which took 4 days. So I was on a scaffolding tower, and I just saw this big white paper and thinking, why on earth did I actually agree to do this? Sitting on this scaffolding tower saying, I just don’t know where to start! And then I absolutely loved it. And I’d love to do it again.
All the projects I’ve been involved in are exciting in different ways because it’s being taken out of your comfort zone.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on scaling up my work. Introducing welding structures along with different materials. Definitely scaling up three or four sizes. It will be quite big.
I think I love to get myself in complicated things and then wonder why I actually started them!
I have to be quite open in my work. In this ‘could of would of should of’ series, I cast the inside outs of the originals. I put a latex sock over the original and then pulled it out, put some clay on the inside, and then recast that. Then the figures weren’t so literal. I think that’s why the studio is really important. To be able to play like that. I think in the next work I have to remember to be quite playful, so I make some of my figures less literal, the way they are in my drawing. I’ll see what happens. But I’m really interested in going bigger. And the relationship will change.
Do you listen to music while you work, and if so, what’s your soundtrack?
It depends what mood I’m in, but I love listening to music. Sometimes I listen to music with no lyrics in or listen to some quite cheesy music sometimes. I think people are quite shocked at the cheesy music I listen to!
I love listening to classical music as well, Rachmaninov, the Rach 3 piano. That is such an amazing piece of music. It takes you on a real emotional journey. That blows my mind. I think I listen to a really eclectic playlist. It depends, but quite a lot of the time it’s music without any lyrics. If you start listening to lyrics, you get lost in them.
What are the key themes in your work?
Love, desire, sexuality, romantic avatars.
What would you like people to notice in your work?
I’d like them to be emotionally connected in some way. Or see the cheeky sense of humour in it. Sometimes people don’t like my work but I guess I’ve done something to them for them to not like my work. I’ve made them think about what they like and what they don’t like to make them come to that conclusion.
What attracts you to the mediums you work in?
I think it’s the processes. Some of them are quite laborious. With porcelain you have to catch at all stages: hollow out, fire. Glaze it, then rub the glaze down. Then re-fire it, then hand paint it, then re-fire it, it’s a very laboured process. But I like it when the Kiln Queen is kind to me. I really like things I can lose myself in, so it’s like I’m part of the material as well. You just lose yourself in it, I think.
What equipment could you not do without?
I think I’m quite quirky in that I could find a way to not work with most things. If I didn’t have equipment I’d just find something else to work with. So, if I didn’t have a kiln, then I’d work in stone. I don’t think my work’s that rigid. I’d work with my mobile phone or … I’d start calving almond nuts or something!
Who or what inspires you?
I remember going to Rome and being really inspired by Bellini. I think it was the way he transformed marble into these love stories. And some of them obviously are really tragic. I remember being blown away by that. I wanted to try that but in a different, smaller way. I was fascinated by the way he used his material. He really pushed stone and marble to the extreme. But also the stories behind it as well, and how those stories are portrayed in that material. I was really inspired by going to Rome, it was a massive thing and a big change in my work.
How does gender affect your work?
I deal in the female form, and female sexuality. Intimacy.
What’s your favourite gallery, or place to see or experience art?
I absolutely love the V&A. If I ever need inspiration I go there. There’s alway something you haven’t seen, and you can just go and draw the statues. It’s a really wonderful place. To go and get lost in. It is a magical place.
I love the monumentalism, but shrinking it down. I think maybe that’s where the inside out thing came from as well, because there’s a ceramic cast of religious figures there. At the front you can see it but I think the back’s more interesting. It’s fascinating. What’s behind.
I also love the British Museum. They have some amazing shows there. The Japanese wood cuts, those scrolls, and they’re really naughty! And they had the Goya show, I love Goya. I work in etchings as well. I work on anything I can get my hands on really and then I can translate into my language.
I guess the V&A is my favourite. If I ever need inspiration I go there. There’s always something you haven’t seen and you can just go and draw the statues. It’s a really wonderful place to go and get lost in. It is a magical place. We’re so lucky to have these museums, and they’re free as well. It’s such a gift.
If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?
Either Frida Kahlo The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth, Myself, Diego and Señor Xolotl, 1949] or Bellini, Apollo and Daphne. The power of human sexuality in stone.
I love Frida Kahlo, and can’t wait to see the show at the V&A next year. She’s an amazing artist and a fascinating character. All that pain she went through. It’s physical and emotional, her work.
Can I have two? Ok, Kahlo and Bellini.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be, and why?
David Lynch. I love the way he’s created his own reality, and how he uses the same actors in his films. I remember being blown away with Eraserhead. The sound and everything. It was produced when he was studying and he couldn’t afford to do it in colour so he did it in black and white. It’s so odd and strange. I love David Lynch. I’ve made some films but they’re nothing like his. I’d love to collaborate with him.
Is there an artist, movement or collective you’d like to see re-evaluated, or a contemporary artist who is underrated?
All the old female masters who seem to have got overlooked.
What’s your favourite colour?
I wouldn’t like to single out colours. Light. Light is made up of 7 colours. There’s all different types of light. When you go away to other countries, the light is so different. It does something to me. I have to have light. It’s a really magical colour really, and it’s amazing when you drive to, say, Whitstable, or go to Margate, the light is different, I think light is really my favourite colour. Definitely. And the fact that it’s made up of 7 other colours is perfect!