Kadie Salmon is a Scottish visual artist living in London, UK. She graduated with an MFA from Edinburgh College of Art in 2009.
Salmon creates large scale photographs and sculptures that explore notions of image manipulation, story telling and romantic landscapes. With an interest in the history of post-production and applied surfaces and its vital role in contemporary imagery and social media, Salmon often returns to traditional methods of manipulation. Using Victorian hand-tinting to physically add or remove colour, or by forcing the image into a sculptural form, the ‘hand of the maker’ is ever-present in her work.
Drawing on the stories, histories, architecture and landscapes belonging to various countries and cultures, Salmon constructs narratives that explore the role of romanticism in art. These narratives are often the result of a performative process, through which the artist attempts to experience in person these romanticised scenarios from the past. However in doing so and placing them within a contemporary context, their original language and interpretation is often lost and instead replaced with notions of idealism, desire and personal fantasy.
What are you doing today?
I’m in my studio watching clips on YouTube-trying to master paper conservation with rice paste (though I think I’ll just give it a go and see what happens!)
Tell us about your creative process.
I thrive off the stories, traditions and surroundings of different countries and so often find myself disappearing on residencies to gather new material and research. Last year I spent time in Trondheim, Norway. I had never been to Norway before and was really taken aback by just how strikingly beautiful the fjords, mountains and long summer days were. But equally just how isolated and uneasy I felt there at times! After I return from a research period (usually with many spools of film negative to develop) I hide myself in the studio. Working with different materials (wood, metal, photography, paint) I begin to piece together all these different elements to create my own narrative.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
I travel a lot; my works and ideas often begin by experiencing or discovering a new site, building or location. A disused, crumbling lighthouse immediately makes my mind start running, thinking about the history and stories that this building has been a part of. Although I’m not always working in the studio, when I am there I work intensively and am completely absorbed, materials and work are everywhere!
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
I’m always excited about the most current project. I look forward to seeing all the work and ideas finally coming together. I also get a lot of inspiration and energy from collaborative projects. I’m part of a collective called Captain Lightfoot. We work with universities, galleries and artists across Europe to create exhibitions. These projects offer me a fun tangent from my own practice and I always find it exciting to meet artists from different backgrounds and disciplines. We are currently working with Prague Academy of Performing Arts and Gallerie Amu on our next project Memory Palace in 2018 which will bring together film makers, musicians, writers, scenographers, choreographers, visual artists and more!
What made you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in a very small village in the North of Scotland. There really wasn’t much to do there but escape into your own imagination. I used to take photos on disposable cameras with my sister, collaging them together to create our own stories. I guess that’s where it started. When I was 17 I moved to Edinburgh to study Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art. That was a significant time for me and really paved the way for my practice now.
What are you currently working on?
I’m just getting ready for my next solo exhibition at New Art Projects in London which opens at the end of this month. I will be showing a new body of work called Blue Grey that I have been developing over the last year whilst a resident at The Florence Trust. It’s a series of hand coloured black and white photographs and sculptures. Hand colouring was a technique used by the Victorians to apply colour before the invention of colour photography. I’m really interested in the history of post production and the idea that even back then the photograph was manipulated. Photographers had to use very long exposures in that time, meaning that the subjects had to stay very still, often held in place by various apparatus. The resulting portraits are often awkward and uncomfortable and I love how this feeling is contrasted with the seductive colour palette applied afterwards.
What are the key themes in your work?
Romanticism, desire, sexuality, fear, manipulation…
What would you like people to notice in your work?
Something uncomfortable. There is often a darker undercurrent in my works that is not always noticeable at first glance. I see my photographs and sculptures a little like the middle of a book or a still from a film; not offering a complete narrative but one that the viewer has to unravel or discover for themselves.
What attracts you to the mediums you work in?
Although I studied sculpture, I have always used photography. It’s the medium’s ability to depict both truth and fictional versions of that truth that I’m most attracted to. Taking the photograph off the wall and forcing it into a 3-dimensional form allows me to expose the fragility of the medium itself and that of the ideal it’s trying to portray.
What equipment could you not do without?
My old medium: format film camera. It’s not the most practical of equipments (it’s bulky, heavy and has no light metre) but I love the physical process of using it. It has a mind of its own and often surprises me with the results. Also my laptop of course!
Who or what inspires you?
I get a lot of inspiration from cinema, particularly the way that colour is used to heighten sensations. Films such as Suspiria by Dario Argento is one of my favourites; the scenes in green or red build such intensity! I’m also an avid reader and always have a collection of short stories on the go. Without the time to build a plot or fully develop a character, a short story feels like a fleeting glimpse into something quite intimate. I really enjoy the works of Raymond Carver, Lydia Davis and Daphne du Maurier.
How does gender affect your work?
I use myself in my work. With a tripod, timer and long exposure I move around in one spot to create a scenario between multiple figures that can only exist in the photograph. A questioning of desire, sexuality and the intimacy of female relationships (mothers, sisters, friends, lovers) has been at the core of my practice for many years and I don’t see it ever disappearing completely.
What’s your favourite gallery, or place to see or experience art?
The Wallace Collection in London, they have a fantastic collection of 18th c paintings by artists such as Fragonard and Boucher. The walls of an historic town house just feels like the perfect environment to view such luscious works.
If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?
A painting called A Girl with a Dead Canary by the 18th C French painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze. Dead birds were frequently used to represent sexuality; I’m fascinated by the secrecy of these meanings and how they can become transformed or lost to a contemporary audience.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be, and why?
It would definitely be either (or both!) film directors Douglas Sirk or Powell and Pressburger. They created such intense melodramas in the 1950s, my favourites ‘Magnificent Obsession’ and ‘Black Narcissus’ have such dramatic plots, irresistibly dark characters and seductive colours. I can’t imagine having the chance to be on set, let alone collaborate with them!
Is there an artist, movement or collective you’d like to see re-evaluated, or a contemporary artist who is underrated?
So many from the past and present. I saw an exhibition a couple of years ago at the National Gallery in Edinburgh called Modern Scottish Women. It had work from the 1800s to the 20th c by artists I had never heard of before who didn’t achieve recognition in their own time.
What’s your favourite colour?
Blue-Grey (for the moment). Colour plays an important role in my work and I often use a colour as a title. My most recent body of work is called ‘Blue Grey’ and the one before it was ‘Pale Yellow’.
You can see Kadie Salmon’s show at New Art Projects, 6D Sheep Lane, London E8 4QS from 31 August to 28 October 2017.
For further information on the show, call +44 (0)207 249 4032 or email email@example.com.