This week we talk to Maria Slovakova. With a truly international history she saw her work spread all over the world. This, of course, gave us plenty to talk about:
You've had quite an international history so far as an artist, can you give us a short overview of where you've been and what you've done?
I was born in Central Slovakia, then lived in Bratislava since age 12 I think. Followed by London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Eastern Townships in Quebec, NYC, Graz, Rotterdam, Bratislava again, Harrogate and now London.
When I was five, I enrolled into an art class because I was determined to be an artist. My mom was not really happy with that. I wanted to go and study graphic design in high school but as it was out of town, she did not let it happen. So I ended up in general ‘gymnasium’ not learning much of anything, but I continued art classes until I was 17. Thanks to The Moonflowers who I met in Bratislava when they toured there, being published became reality pretty soon. They asked me to send them drawings and this was motivation enough for me to cement the decision on what my priority should be. I spent some time in Bristol after I finished school, contributed to Pop God label with drawings and designs and some mad dancing, which was exciting. The highlight of my Amsterdam stay was definitely my involvement with PH31, a small capacity cultural venue on the side of Vondelpark I volunteered in. I hand drew many of their flyers, decorated the walls of the main room with my art, and did many other things there that had to be done to keep it running. In Quebec, I was very fortunate to spend a year and half just making art, it was a real gift. I created a lot there, some with a mobile theatre Le Cochon Souriant as well as making little experimental animation with Jean Frederic Messier, I painted on a few vehicles, and presented quite a large scale works exhibit called Big Spring Head Cleaning. I did not plan NYC at all, I was turned back from the Canadian border thanks to a verbal misunderstanding at the embassy, but to my luck I had friends in NYC who helped me and I ended up staying for couple of years with a break of few months in Europe. My introduction to NYC art world was a nice experience, I submitted to a Small Works Exhibition at Washington Square Galleries and my piece ‘George the Snake’ (a stuffed hand puppet) ended up with a bodyguard as people were touching it too much! I had to return to Europe thanks to visa expiry and health issues, then my friend Cym, imported me to Graz that was a cultural capital of Europe at the time. I did a residency at Hotel Rhizom, that was a reflection zone and spent two months there working with local art audiences. In the eight months I spent in town, we created a band called GerdaDear with local musicians, I sang and wrote the lyrics/poems, and we performed around town. I was also included in two group shows in Museum Quartier in Vienna and published by Tonto comics label. Then I had a break from art for a while without a studio for some time and with return to UK in 2005 I rented a small office in a center of Harrogate and continued working again. KI learned Adobe Illustrator at that time, it changed my practice as a painter and expanded possibilities of creation…
What made you venture to London and how are you experiencing that?
I was in and out of London since I was 18. I came here as an au-pair after the wall came down. I never liked the public transport in London and the noise much but kept on returning, thanks to nice friends I had here.
I moved to Harrogate in 2005 and after 3 years of spending there mainly in my studio, I started to miss the city buzz again. I was getting invited to different poetry readings and traveling to London for them, so it made sense to move eventually. London grew on me, I love being here. In the past year I was focusing more on visual art, but before that it was all about getting on the stage round town with my poetry as often as possible, I love reading, it’s very much about immediate contact with the fellow humans, and their response, something you don’t get much as a painter. I also love listening to other poets, observe their stage presence and learn that way.
Do you see any big differences in the art worlds between New York City, London, Amsterdam, Berlin and so on?
All the big cities consist of little parts buzzing their own way, and they many times not really connected to each other. NYC is very much divided into areas that sort of heard about each other, but would not necessarily visit the other…I very much enjoyed exploring the differences and talking to people there, where ever I found myself. At one point I was an assistant to Margaret Bodell and Caroline Kerrigan in a private gallery in Chelsea and that was a great experience.
Amsterdam is to compare with London and New York a lot smaller and in the 90’s was quite amazing to be there. So much interesting went on then.
I was surrounded mainly by theatre people who were creating incredible location performances and musicians who played experimental and improv music. The alternative scene was so inter connected and inventive, it’s hard to describe it in few words, so much has been achieved as a strong local community. The 5 years I spent in and out of there were really priceless and shaped my personality a lot.
Tell us about the world you've created in your art, what inspires you in it and how do you develop it?
In Amsterdam, I started developing The Land Of Garlandyolks. First, it was a way to accept alternative ways of living I was being introduced to all around me. I was 19 and there were vegans everywhere I looked. And people living nothing like I knew back in communist Czechoslovakia. It was intense, but really exciting at the same time. I sort of started to write and draw a manual of what the ideal fun world should be like based on what I was living. I created creatures and animals, writing, maps, and for example, Martin Burr, a Swiss composer who studied there at the time, he even created a sound of the speech of Garlandyolks…I read lots and lots of biology books back then, studied plants and animals and their behaviour. Lot of the material I’ve created got lost in moving but the essence continues to carry through my work to this day. I love observation, of real situations, emotions and human behaviour. No one could script lot of what happens spontaneously on the street or behind closed doors while no ones looking.
You've also ventured into different disciplines such as the creation of an app, and poetry. Can you tell us more about that?
I run my label called Peace&Cookies thanks to all this.
Yes, I started writing poetry in NYC already, but most of it really started happening in Graz when I had to process the whole return from New York experience and being in Europe again. As I mentioned before, we created a band (guitar, bass and drums) and did a few shows, but I wanted to speak more than sing, so I continued on writing poetry, but did not perform it at all until Ashley Reaks invited me to an open mic in Harrogate, and all changed since. Gradually with my confidence, I practiced enough material to record a CD, that we co-produced with Dean Firth and had a great honour working with Filip Drabek on soundscapes and Greg Hall on cello. Last year we performed in the woods at Latitude festival with Franz Kirmann and Greg, for example and it was brilliant. I also worked with cellist Bela Emerson as well as Coley LUV*JAM who is an internationally active DJ, provided vocals for his wonderful minimal house tunes and I also recently appeared on a release by Foolk - Millions of, in Slovakia.
The app is a collaboration with Aaron Fothergill of Strange Flavour. MelvinTiles app is a memory game based on my favourite game from childhood when you need to remember the pair of pictures from the number of options in front of you. Working with Aaron for a year on this was a real great learning experience.
Who are your favourite artists yourself?
I have some lovely pieces in my collection by Kate Knight, Sean Worrall, Lou Pimentel, Carne Griffiths, Disposable Hero, Michael de Feo among others. I would love to have something by Takashi Murakami, I saw his exhibit in Versailles and it was mind blowing. I am not very visual arts focused in my interests, I listen to music all the time rather than go to galleries. That is my real passion and source of comfort.
What is your favourite hangout in London?
Whenever I need to sketch, I go to Full Stop Bar in Brick Lane, I love that place. It always delivers a great beverage, atmosphere and thanks to that, ideas come. I like exploring London, there are so many places that are worth of visiting, I usually end up in very weird and wonderful little hangouts thanks to all the musicians and poets I want to see live and who play these places frequently.
Finally, do you have an interesting fact for us?
I was allowed to paint my mural live very near to the stage while Patti Smith was performing at Pohoda festival in Slovakia few years ago. It was memorable.
In the short time that we've known Peter Ford, financial advisor at Tiffany's Wealth Management, he has sure become a friend of the gallery. Attending two of our successful Art Dinners we got to know him better, and decided to do an interview with him about his background and relation to art and the creative industries:
Peter, can you tell us a bit more about you and your background?
When I left school, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. As a consequence, I studied Product design and then Music followed by a couple of years travelling mainly in America. On returning I managed to secure what I thought would be a temporary job with Nationwide Building Society. 8 years later I had worked my way from being a cashier to Financial Advisor with a couple of years as a branch manager. From there I moved to work with NatWest as a Financial Advisor within their Private banking division. After almost 5 years, I decided to become self-employed to give me more freedom to develop my own financial planning proposition. I work within a St. James's Place Partner Practice called Tiffany's Wealth Management. I have continued throughout building my financial planning career to create my own music in my spare time in addition to playing with a number of local bands.
You work as a financial advisor to high net worth individuals from all walks of life. How are you finding it?
I am enjoying it more than ever. The economic climate over the last few years has been turbulent to say the least! Regulations have become tighter and rightly so. This has meant that there has been a greater need for good financial advice to help clients through what has been tremendously unsettling. My experience over the last 13 years has helped me build strong relationships with my clients which has meant that I have been as busy as ever!
I understand you hope to eventually mainly offer your professional advice to creatives. Why is that and how did you come across this niche?
I love talking to anybody who has a genuine passion for something no matter what it is. I can listen to people talk with enthusiasm about almost any subject. If they are talking about a creative passion, even better! It’s really down to my background. Over the years I have come to know a great number of people who work in the creative industries such as photography, advertising, music, animation and graphic design. When you work for other people, there is more of an expectation to see people you are told to go see. Now that I work for myself, I want my new relationships to be built on better foundation of mutual understanding. We all enjoy being with people that have a shared interest. It’s better for all parties involved to have somebody that understands the way creative people like to work. It also means that by specialising, I am able to introduce clients to each other so that they can further do business. I love playing match maker when I am asked!
I have recently discovered the gallery world through the YPA networking group. I was looking to find new creative professionals so joined expecting to find more of the sort of people I have been dealing with for years. I didn't quite realise that I would find a whole new thread of creative individuals! Each month I have been going along to different London Galleries which I am really enjoying. I met Josephine from Debut Contemporary at one of these meetings who in turn introduced me to Samir.
How do you think you’ll find working with creatives compared to ‘regular’ clients to financial consultancies?
I already deal with a large amount of creative individuals. Financial planning works best when there is a good understanding and trust between both parties. Financial services do not get the greatest press at the moment so building trust can be a challenge. Having a shared interest in creative arts helps to build a relationship a little quicker. I also hope that my clients realise that although I am helping look after their finances, I am also genuinely interested in what they are doing professionally and that this will inevitably have an impact on how I make recommendations.
How did you come across Debut Contemporary and what is your view on what we stand for?
I was invited by Josephine to one of their art dinners. I went back again for a second time because I had such a good time! The dinner is a great event to go have a great meal with great company in wonderful surroundings.
Debut is a really interesting concept. I like that they are there to help develop the commercial aspect of art but they seem to do this without distraction away from creativity. I have the best of both worlds in that I enjoy what I do for a living which means that I can indulge my creativity without having to worry too much about its commercial appeal. Debut is giving artists the tools to be creative in addition to being commercially viable.
Who are your favourite Debut artists?
I really like Anja Kleemann-Jacks. I particularly like her London birds work. I can really see some of her pieces on my walls at home. If I had not just started a business, I would be digging deep to buy her work.
Who are your favourite artists generally?
Because of my background, I think I have a greater appreciation of designers and musicians than artists. The kind of art I like is maybe influenced by this view. I really enjoyed seeing Giuseppe Penone's Tree sculptures recently at Tate modern in addition to the big names they have there; particularly Jackson Pollock's large abstract pieces. I get really quite excited seeing pieces by renowned designers such as Le Corbusier and Charles Eames. I get the biggest kick out of live performances by musicians such as SBTRKT, Daedalus and The National.
If you had £100,000 to spend on art, what work(s) would you buy and why?
I think my knowledge of the world of art investment is too new to be let loose with such a large amount of money. If I had to buy art with it, I would seek advice from somebody like Samir! If it were my choice alone, I would personally spend most of it on classic design pieces. I’d go for some of the classics such as the Arco Lamp by Castiglioni and any of Eames's furniture pieces. I’d probably spend the bulk on vintage audio equipment too. I love a lot of the old Bang and Olufsen equipment and I could probably spend a lot of money on vintage studio equipment such as Nagra tape machines, Space Echo's, Classics from Roland such as the 808, 909, 303 and SH 101! My list could be endless!
I have recently had the pleasure of visiting a number of smaller galleries and seen quite a lot of more affordable works. Highlights for me have included seeing works by Catherine Jacobs and Rab Harling.
Who are you inspired by?
I am inspired by the enthusiasm of other people regardless of what they are enthusiastic about!
Can you share a London secret with us?
John Mullen from Stone Hair in Kingston. I have been friends with John for many years and his salon is fantastic. He is becoming quite a well known stylist in the fashion world working with London and New York Fashion week for as long as I can remember. He has worked on many high profile photo campaigns recently including a piece for Vogue. He occasionally hosts pop up art galleries too!
To get in touch with Peter Ford:
Neus Torres Tamarit (Valencia, Spain 1984) is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in London. Her artworks are constant conclusions of the concepts and thoughts of a subject that has been changing as she has been moving forward in her creations and in her life.
Dualities of interior – exterior, private – public, objective – subjective are reflected in her installations, photographs and mixed media artworks in which Tamarit evokes a solipsistic world and the idea of revealing reality fragments around her, giving special attention to the details of her everyday life materialised with artworks of different nature but related in meaning.
We decided to dive a bit more into Neus' art with the following questions:
Can you tell us a bit more about the art and the possible messages behind it?
My artwork is a combination of mixed media techniques. Depending on the artwork itself I prefer to do a video creation, a bi-dimensional piece on canvas, or something more three dimensional. In the end, I think that what I do are installations, because I always like to combine more than one piece. That is, I always work on series of artworks not doing only one piece at each time.
About the subject, recently I have been reflecting about the individual private space. If you see my recent artwork, the Temporània pictures and the Absum-Adsum series there is an attention to details that can be found in the everyday life, but as they are close ups the objects are decontextualized and dematerialized which gives a feeling of presence- absence (that is what Absum-Adsum essentially means) of this delimited space.
But I think that different interpretations can be given to an artwork and I like when somebody tells me what it evokes to them, even if it’s something completely different, it is a rewarding experience.
You mentioned before you work has a relation to the online media, can you elaborate a bit on that?
The online media and social platforms are very important in the present society. We can have access to any kind of information at any time and in any place. This fact has changed the human being environment in which the individuality, the privacy and the inner lies nearly in a nonexistent level.
So this makes me think where the limit or the moment in which the private space begins not to exist anymore or if it actually exists.
So with my recent artwork I express the need of a private space, giving that special attention to the moments in which an object looks different or special and using them as a metaphor, in contrast with the triviality happening nowadays.
Anyway, you can see a contradiction here as I use online media such as Blogspot, Facebook and Twitter to promote my artwork but I like to work with antonyms, as one doesn’t exist without the other.
Being from and growing up in Spain, do you see differences between the Spanish and British art scenes?
Talking about art in general, I think that Spain is a bit more conservative than England. There are some contemporary art fairs, but everybody wants to be in the safe place. If more promotion would be given to emerging artists, and development of their art, this would be more productive and different, but knowing how things are managed nowadays over there, nothing will happen unless there is a radical change.
How do you feel Debut Contemporary can benefit you breaking into both markets?
Nowadays with internet it is very easy to contact anybody in the world, but I think that it is good as well to present yourself in person and it is a bit difficult to do this in Spain, as I am living in London and I don’t go very often. But internet makes things easier, so I use the tips and advice I get in the workshops in both countries.
How are you experiencing Debut Contemporary as a whole so far?
Debut Contemporary is being a good experience for me. The workshops and all the team are always very helpful and reliable. I think it is very important that all the workshops are given by specialists in their subjects so we know from experienced workers in their field how we can optimize our art practice and take advantage of all the existing facilities that may be, we already knew some of them but didn’t know how to apply them to our practice or how important are nowadays.
Who and what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by my everyday life, my dreams, my wishes, other people’s stories, small details I find interesting, and objects I like or dislike.
Who are your favourite artists yourself?
I like Louise Bourgeois, who is the clear example of how an autobiographical work acquired a social dimension, I find all the different techniques she used for her artworks incredible.
I also like Rachel Whiteread. All her casts are incredible and I think the Ghost piece is amazing.
Goya, with his Black Paintings, is one of my Spanish favourite artists. The paints are gloomy and grotesque but they transmit a lot and when I see them, I can feel what the painted characters are feeling, and I can’t stop thinking what Goya was feeling to paint that in the walls of his house. Every time I go to Madrid I go to see them.
Francis Bacon is also one of my favourite ones.
What’s your favourite London hangout?
London is an amazing city full of interesting places and there is always something different to do. One of my favourite areas is Camden Town. I like the stables market and all the shops around there, the atmosphere and there is always somebody playing live music in there.
Of course, I like going to exhibitions in different art galleries or spaces to see artworks and artists I am interested in.
Do you have an interesting fact for us?
I wish my name was easier to pronounce for English people, haha!
Today’s ‘Meet the artist’ event, with artist Susana Lopez Fernandez, explored the connection between cultures that have risen in New York from the many different immigrants that live there. Using the medium of photography, Susana collaged her images and added a graphic twist with a stark red line winding through them. Although the different photographs, taken from culturally dense areas, are placed closely together, the stark red line that cuts across the different communities reminds us of the simultaneous closeness and separation. The artist also experimented with the use of sound, allowing the public to hear recognisable snippets of the different culture’s music. Played back-to-back, the music created a vivid picture of New York, as if you were walking through the streets yourself.
Coincidentally, the event occurred on the bank holiday weekend, meaning that many tourists came into the gallery, creating another layer of cultural collision. Susana invited the public to get involved with her art work by cutting and joining the photographs of different cultures around New York together in collages, described by her as ‘jigsaws’. Allowing people in London to get involved in the creative process meant that not only are these images to do with the cultures that Susanna has photographed in New York but they become intermingled with the culture and people of London as well, creating links across seas. Overall, the day was a fascinating look at the jigsaw of cultures that co-exist in New York - even the weather on the day seemed to sense the cultural diversity with both rain and sunshine making an appearance. Find out more about artist, Susana Lopez Fernandez on her website www.susanalf.es and her Twitter www.twitter.com/caracolll.
Remember Giulia Quaresima’s Saturday Debut on 16 February? Under the moniker ‘One Hundred Eyes in One Day’ you could get your eyes photographed that then would be turned into an original painting, for you! Giulia just got in touch to tell us that she finished all of the eye paintings, and shared some of the results with us. Have a look below to see a selection, and how amazing they have turned out:
Meet Debut Artist, Susana Lopez Fernandez, and get involved with a workshop in how to manipulate photographic images whilst discovering the diversity of communities and cultures around an area.
Territorios is a photographic investigation of different communities coexisting in the same territory - in this occasion Brooklyn. It is the result of her stay and the long walks across this land. In this project Susana Lopez Fernandez presents her thoughts about coexistence, tolerance, respect, diversity, and continues her Chopsticks´ idea - a reference to our necessity to adapt to a new culture at the same time we try to preserve our origins.
Before travelling to New York, Lopez´s initial idea was to work with Jewish orthodox community, in Brooklyn (Williamsburg and Borough Park), using the Chinese New Year in the context of Chinese Community in New York (Sunset Park, Chinatown and Flushing). Brooklyn has been a magnet for immigrants for a long time and from anywhere (China, Poland, Latin America, Middle East or Italy), and where they coexist together. When she was working on this project Susana Lopez Fernandez spent a lot of time walking around the city. During this time she thought how to put her ideas in order.
Territorios is a personal reflection, born through her observation in how all these communities match together as the pieces of a jigsaw. This is because the translation from Spanish to English is not literal. When she was thinking in Spanish she was drawn to the word 'Territorios', but when she translated it to English she used Jigsaw, because she liked the sound of this word, and also because it expresses how she imagines communities match together.
The result of the project is a group of images or photocollage where she painted Brooklyn´s SkyLine. Each image in the serie has the same silhouette. In this way the images can be connected to each other to create various pairings.
The Saturday Debut takes place on Saturday 4 May, 12-5pm at the gallery.
Keith Newlove is a visual artist based in Derby, UK. His practice is predominantly figurative and utilises hand crafted ceramic objects along with found or ready-made items. Newlove's overriding intention is to examine and investigate the human condition and to represent complex feelings, thoughts, experience and emotion in a sculptural form.
Newlove considers it important that the work should be made by his own hands, to maintain a sense of authenticity and honesty. His work is approached in a formal manner – working directly from the body to gather information using drawings and photographs, prior to sculpting the object.
We talked to him to learn more about his work:
Keith, your work is quite characteristic with the ceramic legs and feet, many people will have remembered it from a gallery visit. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Certainly. I use the limbs to represent the human presence within the work. The use of just a part of the body seems to at once depersonalise the piece and elicit sympathy from the viewer – a severed limb is always going to be disconcerting to see. I think it gives the work a vulnerability and in some cases, a sense of loss and sadness. This is particularly applicable to the Wasted Light series of work from which Little Light and Tribute are taken.
The sculpted object is then combined with found or ready-made objects to create the narrative for the work – placing the work within the ordinary, everyday environment. Both Little Light and Tribute relate to the loss of a family member.
Where do you find the inspiration for your art?
My work is drawn from several sources. My first point of reference is my own life experience, giving my work a semi biographical flavour. The next stage is looking at events or news stories from the world at large – this is to both keep the work current, and combat any sense of narcissism that could creep in. Though the work is drawn from me, I want it to have a universal appeal and try to maintain a sense of ambiguity to allow for many interpretations.
The original inspiration for severed or disarticulated limbs comes from a bizarre news story in Canada - http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/09/01/canada.severed.foot/index.html. Eleven feet were found in the Bay of Vancouver over a period of four years, with no solid explanation for why this happened. This grabbed me immediately. What is going on? Where are the bodies these limbs belong to? A genuine case of the uncanny.
What do you have in store for us in the coming year?
This year is shaping up to be both busy and exciting for me. There will be a whole new collection of sculptural works, a film to promote my practice which will contain some surprises, the release of International Contemporary Masters Vol 7 in which I am a contributing artist and am also working on a collaborative show with fellow Debut artist David Booth which is already at an interesting and exciting stage.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
Five years? I see myself with an established collector base and a string of group shows under my belt along with a solo show or two. Maybe preparing for an auction at Sotheby’s? If there’s any time for it, I’d also like to be happily married by then too.
How are you experiencing Debut Contemporary so far?
Debut has been an amazing experience for me. I remember filling out the short application online, and then forgot about it. I actually missed the first email from Sophia, it went into my spam folder. Luckily Sophia telephoned me to ask if I would come in for an interview.
When I got the call to say I’d been accepted it really was like all my Christmases had come at once. I was overjoyed.
It’s only been a couple of months so far but I have learned so much. Both Sophia and Samir have been amazing mentors and genuinely enthusiastic about what we do. What you are all doing at Debut is fantastic. I would like to see similar schemes rolled out nationally to help new talent. It’s what the art world has been waiting for.
Who are your personal favourite artists?
Ah, there are so many. Rodin is like a god to me, as is Louise Bourgeois. Ron Mueck’s hyperrealism is astonishing and Jenny Saville is probably the greatest living British figurative painter – her show in Oxford was mind blowing.
There are many, many more including some of the current Debut artists.
Finally, do you have an interesting fact for us?
My surname - Newlove. It sounds terribly romantic. It really isn’t. It comes from the old English New Lowe – which literally means new burial mound. It makes me think my ancestors were either grave diggers or ghouls. Figures really when you look at my work, and the 15 years I spent as a goth.
Agnieszka Kolek is a Debut Alumni who has moved on in an amazing directon. Recently she was awarded Polish Woman of the Year in the UK for her great work with Passion for Freedom festival. We talked to her about this exciting fact.
Agnieszka, congratulations on becoming Polish Woman of the Year in the UK!
What will be next for you?
Thank you, it is a great honour and responsibility. I was chosen from a group of very successful and powerful Polish women here in the UK. Currently I am working on 5th edition of Passion for Freedom London Arts Festival. I am in the process of securing two established artists as Special Guests at the festival plus overlooking works on the Freedom Book. As festival works go in a cycle I use quieter time to focus on my own art practice. I have completed a number of works since January and continue to work on few more in preparation for a solo show.
How will you keep on making a difference within the Polish community and beyond?
Becoming Polish Woman of the Year is a great opportunity to inspire women to act. Only during Congress' panel discussions on politics, science and art women were sharing their experiences, discussing achievements and planning for the future. Protecting freedom in our society and promoting it where there is no freedom is the greatest task imaginable. I am committed to make a difference. At the moment I am working along a group of passionate people to create a platform that would motivate, inform and support Polish community in becoming actively involved in voting in local and European elections here in the UK.
Where will Agnieszka Kolek be in five years?
I would love to see Passion for Freedom Festival become a fixed date in an international art calendar; a destination for thought provoking, independent art that makes a difference; a place where people meet and celebrate freedom openly debating current issues. I am dreaming of a solo show of my work touring major cities in the world. I already have a fun club in NY asking me when I will show there. It is a great thought seeing my works there.
How will this title influence your art career?
It already gives me fuel to work more. I can feel how empowering and encouraging it is to be recognized for the work I have been doing for the last four years. What I love about this the most is the effect it had on other people. I have received a numerous offeres of help be it from other professionals eager to join the project or young people wanting to become volunteers during the festival. It is amazing! Freedom bringing people together.
How did you experience your time at Debut Contemporary?
It was an intense experience as I was in the middle of preparations for the festival. I found workshops useful and inspiring. There was not one moment that I thought "I know all of this. I wish I was somewhere else." It was great to meet professionals who work either in the creative sector or closely with artists. The one to one mentoring sessions were very practical with "can do attitude" added. I highly recommend becoming a Debut Artist.
What did you take away from it and how are you still benefiting?
It is hard to pick one particular skill. I can compare the whole experience to receiving a gift; a tool box. I can open it and choose what would work best in the particular moment. It could be related to PR, negotiating with galleries or managing own finances.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am glad spring finally arrived and I can ride my bike again!
You work in various mediums, such as glass, etchings and performance. Can you share your inspirations with us? Are different mediums inspired by different sources of inspiration?
Every single piece or series has a different inspiration. So it's not really dependant on the medium itself although each medium I use has a very different feel, possesses different problems/opportunities and has a different effect for the person experiencing the finished piece.
With the etching the objects themselves were the inspiration. You can read more about them following this link: http://ewelinakolaczek.com/etchings/ (on the bottom of the page).
With glass it's very often the concept that comes first. Glass is an insanely challenging material to work with, but but it's utterly extraordinary! It requires a lot of designing and planning even before you touch any glass. With other sculptural mediums, your eye very often stops on the surface. With glass, you can design and then work the piece in such a way that the eye travels straight into the middle of the piece. Right there inside the glass there is a whole new experience of an enclosed world of colours, shapes, veiling... Glass is also extremely tactile. It has an exquisite fragility and yet can evoke a feel of danger through for example sharpness, weight or the threat of shattering.
I often challenge technical possibilities to the hilt. At the moment I am working on a series that has an inner shape - cast, sandblasted, and inserted into a pre-cast puzzle of an outer shape, melted again, then put in the kiln yet again to be slumped on a ragged meat hook. The first piece is called Relinquish. The outer curves of the glass make the inside shape morph with every look and angle. Even though your intellect tell you the inside must be small, your senses show you that it's changeable and large.
It's a new series and I'm loving the challenge, the feel and how the material itself is in dialogue with the concept of struggling between the lightness and comfort of being held and protected versus the weight and stiflingness of being trapped and caged. The one that's back in the kiln now is Chrysalis (sneak preview below).
I am also working on a new performance installation piece. For me, the process of and then the sharing of a performance piece with an audience is one of the most vulnerable places that a person can put themselves in. you very much put yourself right there in front of or even into a stranger's presence. You put yourself on very often uncomfortable ground, breaking rules, asking yourself and others questions that there may not be answers to. The new piece, will be an inquiry into what values each of us hold and how precious if at all, they are for us. I'm also thinking of for the first time ever incorporating a glass element into the performance installation.
How did you come across Debut Contemporary and what made you decide to apply?
I came across the extraordinary Debut in a most ordinary way: through an arts mailing list. I applied on a complete whim, as I was very sceptical at first as to a gallery reaching out to artists in such an open way. I'm now extremely pleased that I did apply.
I was looking for a place that would literally “take me under their wing” to help me develop the tools that would allow me to progress my career as an artist in a rounded multi-level way. Debut sounded and is perfect for that.
How are you experiencing the scheme so far?
I think that as with any opportunity in life, you get out as much as you put in. If you are willing to work hard, be honest about what you expect and take on the advice that is offered from the amazing gamut of experts that Debut introduce you to, then you will definitely find the experience extremely helpful.
Who are your favourite artists yourself?
A very very difficult question! I am a bit too critical for my own good sometimes. But I find that that just pushes me harder to find the really good stuff :)!
I adore Sharyn O'Mara's work (http://sharynomara.com/). I love the multi-sensory, audacity, beauty and yet simplicity of pieces like her Untitled (ceiling) installation where she has hundreds of gold Little Tree® air fresheners hung in arch in stunningly almost spiritual way.
Performance-wise, Helge Meyer (http://www.performance-art-research.de/) manages to transport my mind and senses to very far away in time and place, but simultaneously keep me very present in the moment of where he is leading those that are experiencing his performance. I think the ritualistic nature of a lot of his performances really challenge my aversion yet desire for a modern personal spirituality.
Then there is the magnificent Ólafur Elíasson (http://www.olafureliasson.net/works.html) and Dries Verhoeven http://www.driesverhoeven.com/ who both create amazing fully immersive environments but we are the guests and performers in these installations. Eliasson does so in a more science and cerebral way, with sometimes just displacing what is already there in the city or gallery that he is working in. Whereas Verhoeven literally builds a whole mini world where you fully become part of it.
I dream of being given the resources and opportunity to bring to life and invite you to at least one of my numerous ideas/projects on this scale.
Do you have an interesting fact for us?
Something I learned and then played with by creating a sountrack on headphones for the performance pieceBreath/e. Just as our heartbeat synchronises with the beat that we hear (like when we are listening to music), when we hear a breath pattern for long enough, our breathing synchronises with it. This means that the amount of air that we inhale and that travels through our bloodstream to various organs changes with the type of breathing, thus changing our emotional response/mood. So for example if you hear quick breath it makes you more either excited or agitated and with slower breathing your heartbeat also calms down and you have a completely different view of what you are experiencing.