Art & Design Monday, October 1st

What it's like being a young artist in Herefordshire in 2018

Art & Design Monday, October 1st

What it's like being a young artist in Herefordshire in 2018

We wanted to know what it was to be an artist, and to be in Herefordshire in the year 2018. So we asked.

Specifically we asked a handful of the county’s young and emerging talents. This is what they said. (To find out more about the individual artists featured, click on their respective tiles below)

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WHAT MAKES YOU PICK UP YOUR SKETCHBOOK/PAINTBRUSH/NOTEPAD?

Letty Noonan: I feel that if you’re a creative person, you channel that in everything that you experience in life. You watch a documentary and see something tragic, some people talk about it, some people ignore it, and some people make art from it. That’s what I do. I identify my own feelings about the subject through materials then offer it up for discussion.

Molly Bythell: Anything that catches my eye really, could be a pattern, an embrace, an ironic cliché, friends and family enjoying life, COLOUR, and females, obviously.

Omar Majeed: A compulsion to create as a meaningful activity and a conversation with my deeper self.

WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNGSTER, WET BEHIND THE EARS, JUST STARTING TO EXPLORE YOUR CREATIVE SIDE – WHAT DO YOU WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU ABOUT ART?

OM: You don’t have to be able to paint to be an artist, even if you paint.

LN: I wish I’d found sculpture and installation sooner. Especially the Readymades. I really enjoy theory, my mum studied art history, but I was too young to understand and just assumed Fine Art was all about painting because we had pictures of Flaming June and such.

MB: That studying art at school and then at University are two worlds apart.

You will slog at painting some peeling fruit to represent ‘time passing’ for your A Levels and THEN be told by your successful, advocate of all things ‘anti’, intimidatingly-intelligent tutor to forget everything you learnt at school. Instead it was more important to learn how to ‘fail, be bold and embrace your mistakes instead. But also know that it is (eventually) a wonderful revelation. 

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WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE THAT A) YOU MADE? AND B) SOMEONE ELSE MADE RECENTLY?

MB: My favourite piece right now is probably ‘feast your eyes’, she is so elegant, beautiful and commands the room. I also love Shannon Donovan’s ceramics at the Old Mayor’s Parlour, they are just stunning.

OM: I (a) made a piece of work with my Dad called Ziggurat in a conceptualist collaboration we call Majeed & Son and (b) I bought an abstract painting from David Eatwell that has beauty and finesse and I saw him paint it and saw the work that went into that level of painting and it made me want to know what I’m doing one day.

LN: That would be my recent work in the MA show we just had – I’ve just introduced light and colour to my process of making this year, so it’s been stressful and rewarding working out a new medium and style.

My favourite work that someone else made... It’s definitely Lee Bul. But I couldn’t narrow it down to one piece. Her exhibition I recently went to at The Hayward Gallery was very polished with her subject matter of future and dystopia, and her materials exploration is very desirable as a fellow artist. 

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TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB, THAT IS SEEMINGLY OBVIOUS TO THOSE WHO DO IT, BUT ENTIRELY MISUNDERSTOOD BY THE REST OF THE WORLD?

LN: Making art is torture.

It’s a torture you keeping doing because once you’ve started, there’s no end to it. You’ll always get better at it, understand something that wasn’t there the first time around, dislike a fraction, obliterate the whole thing and spend your time trying to realise a constantly shifting idea in your head. But when it goes the way you plan, it’s euphoric in that moment, and that’s why we carry on, I think. 

MB: That painting something just because you like it is okay!

WHAT’S THE ART SCENE LIKE IN HEREFORDSHIRE? (NOT COMPARING IT TO PARIS OR PECKHAM – BUT WHAT ARE ITS DEFINING FEATURES)

OM: The art scene in Hereford is alive and well, albeit a little underground.

There are so many creative people around, I meet them at drawing club and at college and in the music scene. But the hacienda must be built, so to speak.

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LN: We’re trying. The art college has got itself on the map, so it’s only getting better. It’s great that Hereford Bid and Maylords let us use their empty spaces. It would be even better if it happened more, instead of empty shops everywhere.

I think that art is key to a vibrant cultural environment and thought provocation in community.

MB: There is a big sense of community and support which I like, however I am sure there is still much to be discovered.

INCREASINGLY WE SEE THE WORLD - AND WE TELL OUR OWN STORIES - THROUGH PICTURES AND VIDEO (AND INSTAGRAM). WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT MEANS FOR THE VISUAL ARTS?

MB: The more people tell their stories, hopefully, the faster ‘art stigma’ will disappear (“oh no I can’t do art I can only draw stick men”). If anyone can find their creative side by taking pictures and sharing on Facebook & Instagram etc, then appreciation of the visual arts will naturally increase. Then eventually the government may start taking the arts seriously, invest more in art funding especially within the education system. It might provide more bursaries for new art teachers (currently art & design is the only PGCE subject without any bursaries funded by the government!!!) and catch individuals while they are still young and impressionable.


LN: We’re using our agency and our voices as artists to shout a bit louder and encourage others to do the same. We live in a time where we are heavily bombarded by information; it’s hard not to express an opinion on the effects of globalisation. Having this array of platforms to do that isn’t a bad thing. It means we can be authentic in how we choose to exhibit our works and messages.

 WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO WHEN YOU’RE CREATING A PIECE/WHAT DO YOU DRINK WHEN YOU’RE CREATING A PIECE?

OM: Sad, strange songs that remind me of friends What’s the hardest part of a project; the beginning, or the end? I never really finish anything, more abandon it, so they’re both easy.

LN: I think it all depends on my mood. My work goes through social and anti-social phases. So I could start a project listening to lots of feel good upbeat tunes, then more chilled out or folky numbers, then rock and such. The Drive soundtrack comes on a fair amount.

MB: I am a hard-core fan of ‘The Guilty Feminist’ podcast, naturally. Sometimes when I’m listened-out on ‘I’m a feminist but…’ (although they are hilarious), I tend to swap to anything I can sing loudly along to. Female soul singers are up there for my line of work…

I also drink smoothies, because unsurprisingly a blend of fruit and flax seeds is all you need for a fulfilling day in the studio.

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WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART OF A PROJECT; THE BEGINNING, OR THE END?

LN: Getting going. As soon as you’re working with the materials all the concerns melt away. Before that you panic about artist block and if your ideas will translate physically from the mental plan.

MB: The very beginning is the most exciting part, finding what you want to paint etc. so I guess that makes the end the hardest part. Knowing when to stop, or knowing when a painting is ‘finished’ is quite difficult.

I could keep painting a painting forever really, but then I would get nothing else done. 

WHAT DOES *AN EXHIBITION* LOOK LIKE IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?

LN: I think the art market is a slippery thing.

Personally, I plan to keep to artist-run exhibitions, residencies and exhibiting in spaces that aren’t intended for art. I think that’s the way it needs to go in order to keep the vibrancy in cities and avoid derelict places and to prevent lining the pockets of the wrong people.

MB: An exhibition will probably still be dominated by the ‘white cube’ ideal, but maybe by then boundaries of the ‘clean and straight wall’ will be challenged and we can see different coloured/ shaped walls – who knows! But I am excited to find out.

IF YOU COULD GET THE CCTV FOOTAGE OF PEOPLE VIEWING THIS EXHIBITION, WHAT REACTION TO YOUR WORK (PENSIVE THOUGHT, SHOCK, KNOWING LAUGHTER ETC ETC ETC) DO YOU THINK WOULD BRING YOU THE MOST PLEASURE?

OM: A couple of people cried, that is always a result.

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MB: Smiles and laughter because it is contagious. But also, if I could see conversations blossoming about representation of women in art, effects of the patriarchy, and how my paintings have started that narrative.

LN: We actually invigilated the show ourselves, so we were fortunate to be able to gather comments for each other and to talk to people about the works when we were there. We held public artist talks, too. My work is dystopic, but not too blunt.

I like the viewer to apply their own feelings when they look at the work. I did have one person say that the space felt contemplative and immersive, so I was thrilled by that.

WHAT CURRENT TRENDS IN THE ART WORLD BRING YOU HOPE FOR ITS FUTURE, AND WHAT ANNOYS YOU?

MB: Art as activism.

Visual protesting, and resisting societal norms with creativity are very exciting. The Nasty Woman movement for example, a progressive step forward for women in the face of adversity. This is very hopeful and exciting. What annoys me? That’s a hard one – what does frustrate me is when spectators say, ‘oh, I could do that’ – if you could, well why haven’t you!?

OM: Plurality is good but perhaps at the expense of direction and occasionally quality.

LN: The transparency of how we feel about the world as of now, the fact that artists are all using their work to voice all of that. I think it’s important to be authentic and to invite others into your discussion. 

 

HOW WOULD YOU BRING FINE ARTS/VISUAL ARTS MORE IN TO THE PUBLIC SPACES IN HEREFORD?

LN: Sadly it’s not just up to us, if it were up to us, we’d have exhibitions every week, studios in town, studio visits monthly, artist talks, workshops, etc. there are some people doing this already in hereford, like artsite. getting financial support and grants is limited/lengthy. fine art isn’t a craft, so we rely on these to make work and to keep making work using residencies and such.

MB: That is a tough question. Maybe find an abandoned, cheap space, have a ground breaking, exciting exhibition with lots of talented artists and maybe even start a collective.

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