Interviews with Artists

Adam Grainger & Leah Hickey

Initiated by Dinosaur Kilby


Published in September 2023


This interview was originally recorded on Thursday, 6th April 2023


LH: The way that I wanted to start this was just: “How are you?”

AG: Yeah, I’m not too bad.

I feel like we owe it to the reader to give a bit of background about you and your practice, for those who might not be familiar. So, how would you describe yourself? Would you describe yourself as an artist first, as a curator first, do those two things work in tandem?

I think I would describe myself as a curator first, and an artist second. My main output is Nottingham based gallery Forth, and I have an artistic practice alongside that which involves being part of the artist led communal living project The Field and the current cohort of School of the Damned.

LH: Mhm. Okay, that’s kind of not what I expected? That’s interesting.

AG: Although I’ve been very busy elsewhere curatorially, the focus hasn’t been on my own artistic practice for a few years. It’s only recently where it’s turned around and gained traction. It’s always been the gallery (Forth, Nottingham) that has been the definer. So, ‘curator’ first and then ‘artist’ second, but [laughs] not an artist-curator…

LH: Yeah.

AG: I don’t like the term. It feels quite loaded, maybe it’s slipped out of relevancy to me? I’m angling myself towards something else? I think a lot of people that very strongly identify as artist-curators are just… [sighs].

LH: Okay [laughs].

AG: …I like a bit of delineation between different aspects. I’m a curator that happens to have an art practice, not an artist-curator.

Installation view of Collective Hecatomb Decline Conjecture by Adam Grainger

LH: So I have a few questions leading on from that: Obviously you’ve been involved in quite a few different spaces. There’s Forth, there’s One Thoresby Street, there’s DARP, and also The Field. Very, very big question, how did they come about, and in what order? Because I don’t know.

AG: As a very compressed history: Forth as it is now came about at the end of 2021/early 2022, out of a collectively led project space. I’ve been at The Field since December 2021, joining when it was still known as DARP. I ran One Thoresby Street which was a ‘collectively oriented’ studio, gallery and workshop complex in Nottingham from 2020-2022, and had a studio there a little longer. I’ve also been involved in School of the Damned since last year. There have been other projects like Whorling.net along the way but that’s the essential timeline.

LH: You’ve mentioned community and collectivity, are those things essential to your mode of working, of production, of curation? Is that important to you, to work with a collective group of people?

AG: Maybe not curation anymore, but otherwise I think collectivity is quite close to my heart, or at least the utopian potential of it is. I got disenfranchised with the way that collective curation works, and maybe collectivity as a whole, but we’ll get to that? You’ve really got to be on a level with people, or have a very clearly established working structure, in any sort of group in order to make it work when you’re not within an institutional context, if it’s just you doing it off your own back.

I’ve had several collaborators where we have had that dynamic (Chloë Laycock who I ran the gallery and Whorling with, and Alice Reed who first worked on the gallery, and more recently co-curated my show in Birmingham) but they’ve been the exception to the rule. It got to a point with the gallery where I knew enough, I could just do it by myself and it took away the stress of managing other people's availabilities, intentions and visions. Dependent on other people's capacities, collectivity can be especially hard if you’re quite single minded and want to push something forward.

Installation view of Collective Hecatomb Decline Conjecture by Adam Grainger

LH: I suppose the biggest dilemma I have experienced personally is when you’re working with a large, collective group of people, if we don’t have clearly defined roles it muddies the waters and I think it can make your approach to that project confusing when it doesn’t need to be. So, I do understand that.

Hearing about your previous curatorial history, it interests me that you opted to have the show at Cheap Cheap recently as a solo show? Was your intention to always go into that as a solo show, or did you have it in mind that it might be a collaborative process with somebody else?

AG: When Alice invited me to do it, it was very much her inviting me to do a show because of an interest in my ideas, so I approached it with that in mind. The show was also co-curated by Dinosaur Kilby, and we had a dialogue between the three of us as to how it existed as a collaborative effort between myself as the artist and them as the curators, they were both very supportive, but I don’t think I ever considered it being a collaborative show with other artists. I was quite happy to use it as a space to reflect on collectivity, without necessarily being a space for collectivity.

Sometimes it’s nice to have that distance when in so many other aspects of my life I’m very much engaged in the idea of collectivity.

Installation view of Collective Hecatomb Decline Conjecture by Adam Grainger

LH: I wanted you to expand upon the title of the show, Collective Hecatomb Decline Conjecture, and where that came from.

AG: It's easiest to start with ‘hecatomb’, which is a word that’s been in my vocabulary more than it should have been given its obscurity. I found it through the song ‘Hecatombe/Agustin’s’ by the anarchist folk band Blackbird Raum, which is always there in the back of my mind. The hecatomb -  I might get it wrong - but, it was an ancient Greek sacrifice typically referred to as a hundred, or, sometimes twelve cattle as a feast for the Gods. I then coupled this with collectivity, so ‘Collective Hecatomb’, is the idea of collectivity being the communal sacrifice, for and of ourselves.

It started off as a two-part title. You can read it in different ways depending on how you emphasise the words. ‘Decline Conjecture’ is then a comment on me making that show very cynical. I wasn’t harnessing the positive aspects of collectivity, it’s me looking at it and the ways in which it doesn’t work, how it seems to be unravelling upon itself. That’s my continued experience through running various projects and seeing them dissipate. Even coming into School of the Damned, having understood it through multiple, other people, for many years to be a very specific thing that really felt in line with my goal and vision, to then find it as this… other thing that’s sort of unravelling itself. So, the cynicism and the interest in the decline of collectivity came from there.

Capping the title off with ‘conjecture’, was a way of acknowledging that within the exhibition I said all of these very negative things and have all of these beliefs about the trajectory of collectivity, but I don’t have much of a grounding for it outside of my own experience. It’s more a basis for a tract of negativity, a lament that isn’t attempting to ground itself in supposed objectivity, trying to acknowledge that I am obviously a very … blinkered individual.

LH: [Laughs] In what way, what do you mean?

AG: I suppose we are all blinkered to a greater or lesser degree, but I have held onto this cynicism for whatever reason, and I think that perpetuates a very singular way of viewing the world. Maybe I’m just into the bad vibes. [Laughs] Something within it resonates with me, whether that’s particularly profound or correct or not.

LH: I think that’s very relevant, and I think that it makes sense.

Because we’ve both worked collaboratively with Dinosaur, and we’ve both had solo exhibitions at Cheap Cheap: I wanted to compare our approach to those experiences? For me when I was approaching How to Get Attention When You’re Drowning, I’d had the idea for the title easily a year, possibly two years before, and I was producing work specifically for that show. I’m curious to know whether you’d happened to have work that you felt fit into that space, or whether you were producing something that was specifically for the exhibition?

AG: It was a bit of both. Before the exhibition, I’d been writing on the topic, and thinking along that line of enquiry anyway. Having the exhibition as a focal point helped bring it together, making it something which had to happen and galvanising the rest of the work. It gave me the spark to flesh it out beyond being some kind of disjointed text on a Google doc.

With the physical works the process behind them is somewhat always ongoing, in that I’m constantly scraping images off the internet. All the images that are used in the wall works, there were definitely several of those that existed on my hard drive long before the show that had come about through morbid curiosity and deep diving online. Does that answer the question?

Installation view of How to Get Attention When You’re Drowning by Leah Hickey

LH: I think that it does! I like that you’d used the phrase ‘morbid curiosity’ because we both share that in different ways. In particular for me with the newsletter Emotional Outbursts themes that I’m still working through currently, specifically with respect of death, I think that morbid curiosity is really lingering, in everyone. Even if we were to be really simplistic, and liken it to when you’re driving down the motorway and you see a car crash, there’s this part of you that wants to slow down and see if you can get a glimpse of the inside of the car. That’s what the wall pieces made me think, or reminded me of, rather.

AG: That is funny, because one thing I’m now thinking about is car crashes. Maybe you creating that link has come from the text that Alice wrote, where she likened the work to car crashes because she is of course obsessed with cars? I know it did for me. There is definitely something there, you want to peer in, don’t you? You want to glimpse the remnant of horror.

LH: Yeah, that is really interesting. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with, and this is a filmmaker that Ishmail De Niro introduced me to, Kenneth Anger? He’s an occult filmmaker who produced a book which is a tell all expose of Hollywood from the thirties to the sixties, and it’s interspersed with different images from popular culture. This is a very roundabout way of getting back to car crashes, but there was an actress who was referred to as ‘the poor man’s Marilyn Monroe’ called Jayne Mansfield, she had a 1966 pink Buick, a really slick, bright, shiny, brand new car, and she was always dolled up to the nines, blonde hair, really, really tall. She got into a car crash, and passed away during the crash.

AG: Was her hair still perfect?

LH: There’s a photograph of it in ‘Hollywood Babylon’, Anger’s book, and I wrote about this in Issue #12, which I’ve called ‘On Hollywood decay’. I reference it at the beginning, because in the photograph you can see a wig sitting on top of the car and there’s just something about that which objectively is horrific, but in a crass kind of way viewing that photograph as an artwork is really compelling. That’s something which I suppose has always lingered with me, in particular with Lynch’s work.

Besides that, something else that I did want to mention is, just to commend you on the show itself and in particular the finishing. I felt like the finishing on the works was really sleek and really sharp and it was clear that you’d had a lot of attention to detail, and there’s a real emphasis on materiality. I can’t recall, were the frames brushed steel, around the edge?

Installation view of How to Get Attention When You’re Drowning by Leah Hickey

AG: It’s just aluminium. It’s those little touches of intention, that suddenly lift something from being really, kind of dismissible, into being pristine? Elevated?

LH: Do you feel that finishing and material is important to you?

AG: Definitely. It’s probably apparent from works you’ve seen in progress that the finishing is there before the subject of the work is resolved. I get stuck on the potential of polishing things off and it can feel like a perfect violence can't it? In that you can lift something up, re-contextualise it, and… ‘spotlight’ feels like the wrong word. Immortalise it?

LH: I understand what you mean.

AG: Turning it into something that is at once immaculate, but dead? They become dead objects because they are finished, final, and with the way that they’re presented I quite like thinking about making objects that are sublimely dead? Maybe part of it’s an exaggeration of what art can be? Art can just be objects that are in stasis, that are removed. I’m trying to think about whether there’s a way to lean into that, in the same way that the show leant into cynicism against collectivity and being negative as a way to explore and embrace that mirror side of things, thinking about whether you can lean into objects that are so slick they become like corpses. That’s what always ticks in the back of my mind.

Installation view of Collective Hecatomb Decline Conjecture by Adam Grainger

LH: That’s really interesting. I hadn’t considered it from that perspective, but it makes complete sense, and I can really empathise with your perfectionism in terms of painting. Something else I did want to ask is, do you feel like lending your hand specifically to that artwork is important to you? In terms of fabrication, do you feel that you need to do everything yourself? Because I feel the exact same way.

AG: I think yes. I’m very precious and particular, but I suppose a lot of it isn't all me. None of the images are me in the way that they’ve been created. They’ve just been scraped. But the actual fabrication, the pulling together of it? It’s hard, but it could be quite nice, maybe one ultimate culmination of the ideas I have is to totally remove yourself. I am definitely a perfectionist and wouldn’t necessarily trust other people though. The things that I do aren’t necessarily perfect, but it’s my attempt at approaching perfection, which feels significant.

Installation view of Collective Hecatomb Decline Conjecture by Adam Grainger

LH: In terms of the curation of this show at Cheap Cheap, how did that work? Between you, Dinosaur and Alice working together? Did you already have in mind where you wanted the work to be?

AG: I already had a clear layout in mind, which again comes down to perfectionism. Maybe it’s bad practice, almost working backwards, it goes against, but it’s the way I make sense of it. Before I’d even touched the materials, I’d modelled and sized everything up, to know where works would go and how many there would be. I’d laid out the contents of the works. It’s really ‘void’. Maybe this comes back to earlier points about funding and the scale of work, I have to be quite utilitarian. Maybe that reflects in the work too, many things are capped by the sizes of sheet materials, a desire to make things as large as they can be, to make the most out of the material, to waste as little as possible.

When it comes to making the work, I’ve ordered the print and it’s the exact size that I know it needs to be, and I know it needs to be so many centimetres from the top because I’ve already done it on the computer. I’ve created a step-by-step of how this thing will be assembled. I hope that exacting process comes through in the work. But I don’t think it’s all that perfect. I ordered so much plasterboard and ended up not using all of it, but yeah, very meticulous. I suppose it’s a control thing, isn’t it?

LH: I think that there’s value in being methodical and being meticulous, especially when it’s your work and you’ve spent so much time presiding over it, I can completely understand why you’d want it to be experienced in a particular way, and I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. The approach that you took to the show at Cheap Cheap, is that the approach that you ordinarily take at the other spaces, for other exhibitions?

AG: No, with that it has to be really different because once I’m thinking about curation, it’s not just about how I want things to end up. Curation is to me how I can work with an artist to enable them to make things the way that they need, in order for it to come out the way that they want to see it. Artists will come in and have their own approach to working, and my soul crumbles: “What do you mean you don’t want to use the laser level?”! But if they don’t work in that controlling, obsessive way that I do in my own practice, and that is what makes me love their work so much, then I can’t try and put that on them because the show becomes inauthentic?

LH: I suppose it must be quite difficult to relinquish that control and strike that balance of having a show that aesthetically is what you hoped it to be, but also to give enough room for that artist to present the work in the way that they want? …and I imagine that it must be quite difficult if an artist were to approach you with a particular idea that you feel might not work or might not make sense. It must be difficult to approach that conversation?

AG: I’ve ended up being kind of fortunate in that, a lot of the time when those conversations happen, I tend to just be, “Yeah, that sounds fantastic, that’s really cool, let’s do it”.  It definitely does happen where an artist will turn around and suggest something and you go, “Oh Christ, that sounds unmanageable”. But that’s often the point where you have to take some time, question “Am I stepping in with how I might do it if it was my work?”, then let it go and at the end, you look at it and go “Yeah, when you said that to me I was shit scared, because it sounded really outlandish, but now that you’ve been left to do it it did pan out…” and still ended up feeling quite in keeping with the way that the gallery looks. I think that comes from quite a specific curation, especially recently.

If you work with people and practices that you believe in and feel strongly, then you can have a certain degree of confidence that the end result will be in keeping with the image of the gallery. I think that all of the most rewarding exhibitions at the gallery have been the ones that most often have made me go “I’m not sure about that…”, but have also been the artists who, curatorially, I’ve been most into. Yeah, just letting them work it out.

LH: I suppose that that’s a good thing though, because I think that if you ever feel fearful or uncomfortable about something, I feel like that’s a sign that you should keep going?

AG: Yeah, absolutely.

What Girls Are Made Of by Leah Hickey, oil on synthetic suede, 5 x 5ft, 2021

LH: Is there a particular exhibition historically that feels memorable or that stood out to you for any particular reason, which comes to mind? Just out of curiosity.

AG: There are a lot, I work with artists whose practices I care about so each one becomes special in its own way. Within the past couple of years it’s started to feel like the programme is consistently breaking new ground. Ella Fleck’s Four Horsegirls of the Apocalypse was a definite stand out. It was technically the first full exhibition in the programme as Forth. What we set out to do was very ambitious and ended up being really successful from a curatorial standpoint. Ella’s ideas around it really weren’t pulling any punches, but at every point we were going “Yeah, we can make that happen. Fuck it, let’s just do it”.

LH: What was the response that you had to that show?

AG: Really positive. Everybody that came was very engaged with it: there was so much investment in the narrative of the video work from the audience. And the audience, maybe they weren’t relating to the characters because they’re absolutely horrid, but enjoying the characters in the way that they are horrid. There were visceral responses as well. The front room was full of Ella’s horse girl sculptures, dozens of people would come down the steps, walk into that room and instantly turn around and run out.

LH: Really?

I Can Feel A Big Cry Coming On by Leah Hickey, oil on synthetic suede, 5 x 5ft, 2022

AG: Yeah. To have them all in that space, sitting around the campfire, they were weird, and they provoked that “Oh my God”  response in people, it was great to get that reaction. That exhibition felt like the culmination of a lot of years learning how to do things. When I think about recent programming, they’re the sort of exhibitions where if I saw it in another gallery space, I would think about it for a long time, which I’m alway grateful for and proud of. So, Ella’s show, Jack Kennedy’s recent exhibition was a total visual triumph, and the current exhibition with Sam Hutchinson has had a massive response too.

LH: In terms of your exhibition programme, how far in advance do you prepare?

AG: It has varied quite a lot. My ideal is to work at least half a year, a year in advance. It gives some sense of structure but still allows for some fluidity in developments. At the moment I have conversations and emails in my inbox to flesh out the best part of a 2024 programme.

I’m always working to become more consistent and far-sighted with it. At the end of 2022, I had a programme planned for this year that was back-to-back. But with everything else happening, The Field, School of the Damned, Thoresby Street closing, the show at Cheap Cheap coming up, it became quite difficult to balance priorities and get funding. I postponed most and really streamlined the rest of the programme which sort of came out of that period of planning, which I think has worked well in the end, it’s good to have more mental space to think about each show.

LH: I’d be curious to hear what your current approach is to funding, because historically I’ve been incredibly self reliant, and I’ve found the prospect of pursuing ACE funding deeply intimidating. Because I’ve always managed either a part time or a full time occupation, alongside my practice, alongside running the studio, within my mind I’ve always had the idea of “Oh, well I’m earning money, I’ll just use the money that I’m earning.”. It’s only now when I’m thinking about the quality of my work, the scale, the grander scope of it, that I’m latently starting to take that quite seriously?

AG: Yeah, I feel that. A lot of programming always starts similarly with the question of “What can I do within my means?”, but of course I’m more concerned with making something successful than working within my means and so I quickly disregard that.  what can we conceive to make something that is ultimately way beyond that. The programme has been done without consistent funding, but hopefully I manage to produce shows in a way where it doesn’t appear like that.

I’ve had more consistent funding for my own practice than I’ve had for the gallery. Funding feels very precarious and scarce right now, occupying the realm I do. The gallery is perhaps hard to classify: it’s not a project space, it’s not an institution with a community focus, it’s gaining traction in the gallery scene, but it still feels like early days. At the moment I’m trying to find ways to break into other money that doesn’t leave me so beholden to the desires of funding bodies.

The gallery’s predecessor had an inconsistent start with the funding because of the way that the collective operated, which is all part of the learning process, and fed into my desire to operate solo. People were constantly coming and going, a new group would come in and we’d start to put a funding bid together whilst keeping the programme going. That takes a few months, and then invariably people move on and you’re left with this half written collective endeavour, which doesn’t feel right as an individual endeavour?

LH: Leaving for what purpose?

AG: I think a lot of the time people try it and realise “Okay, that’s not for me”, especially early on, people want to try it out, or fall into it because they don’t understand their identity without a relation to the art world, or even just kill time. Thankfully I’m finding more and more people now who have made a commitment to their practices, but in the infancy of the gallery people had to move away from it for practical reasons, or people shifted out of the art world because they find the way that we have to work to be, understandably, unsustainable and opted for more sensible life choices.

LH: I have thought about this before, and it makes me want to die. I think the idea of not being able to do what we do, I really struggle with?

AG: Maybe that’s where I find the disjoint with collective work, very few people ever come through that have the same single mindedness of “I can’t imagine what I would do if I wasn’t doing this”. Which is what I’ve got with the gallery and my practice. There is no alternative and whatever I do will be towards those things, rather than establishing stability, finding security in a steady rhythm and not going grey in my mid-twenties.

LH: It’s interesting that we’ve mutually produced work about death, because I continue to feel that the idea of being an artist is really fatal. It feels like a really fatal proposition to me? I often communicate it to other people as “I don’t know what I’d do without it”. I’m so accustomed to that being my way of living, I don’t want an alternative, I don’t want a regular job, even if that means not having a regular income.

AG: I think that’s a really good way of looking at it. You can’t imagine it. It’s like having seen into utopia and then being expected to turn around and just go back to what you knew before.

LH: To me that feels like a compromise, and I don’t want to do that at all. A prime example, actually - before I’d studied my BA, I received an interview at Westminster to study Fine Art and my parents refused for me to go to the interview, because they wanted me close to home. For a long time I did think “Oh, if I’d only have just taken that risk, if only I’d have just pushed myself”, but I suppose that’s symptomatic of working class households, that you’re inclined to be risk averse and your parents want the safest thing for you that guarantees a paycheck at the end of the month?

AG: I had similar things happen so ended up staying in the Midlands, which for the both of us has still worked out because we’re here doing this, but there’s always that “What if”.

I suppose people could turn around and go “You’re so caught up in the aspiration of art and having to go to these certain places to achieve these certain things” even though you’re defying that with much of what you’re doing. Maybe I am, but art has always been the reason.

LH: For me, that makes me come back to death again. I think experiencing that first hand, especially in the dying phase when someone is kind of divulging to you “I wish I’d have done this”, really made me reconfigure how I feel about and how I approach my own life, with the respect of I don’t really feel like compromising anymore, because I’ve already done it. I think for my own self gratitude, and that little gold star, if I can go to the big shiny building, I’d like to go to the big shiny building. Especially because, in terms of further study, financially I’ve only got one opportunity to do that.

AG: And you might as well do that - supposedly - properly. I feel the same. In the back of my mind, there’s that niggling thing of “I want to go to the golden tower”, even though I know that it’s still flawed. You hear the experiences of everyone, “The institution is actually really shit”, I don’t doubt it, but still I want to know it for myself, and I owe it to myself to do that, to at least say “I did it, and it wasn’t good”.  We’ve said it before to each other, that way of looking at things doesn’t feel… too common? Maybe it’s the people that I surround myself with, but I feel like a lot of people go “Oh, no I don’t want that”.

LH: Maybe it’s due to self initiated artist led collectives like School of the Damned, that exist as an alternative to that institutional, hierarchical structure that can be exclusionary and can be abrasive? That’s why those things continue to exist, and continue to kind of… grow?

AG: School of the Damned is a very big topic that we could get onto.

LH: [Laughs] I know. We don’t have to discuss it, if you don’t want to.

AG: I think it’s interesting to discuss it. I feel sporadically positive about it. It’s difficult, I’m tentative to express how I’ve found it. It’s such a collective experience, I don’t want me being a cynic to reflect on it being something that maybe it hasn’t been for other people, but it feels like it’s flailed for a year…

LH: I think I need to approach it really neutrally, objectively, pragmatically. It wasn’t what I anticipated it to be. However my understanding of what the experience would be, was lent from people I know that have done it in previous years, and I get the impression that year upon year it shifts and changes. There’s no one experience that is the same?

AG: I’ve had similar conversations about going into SotD, holding an idea of it passed down by people that have been in it, and idealising that as what it might be. Then it not being that, and it feeling quite unclear as to how you can action things to make it embody more of what you wanted to see in it? It’s definitely been challenging to navigate. Which to be very optimistic is part of the joy of collective practice. That it hasn’t been as anticipated, and the way we’ve been navigating its lack is as informative as what it might have been if it was as desired. It’s definitely influenced where I have gone with my practice, how I’ve thought about collectivity, collective power, and community or lack thereof, how I approach what my relation is to that mode of working. So, it's still been fruitful, even if it’s not in the way that I hoped. That’s the most optimistic take I’ve ever had on it.

LH: I think the reason that I’ve found it challenging, which, again, is a good thing, is because everything I’ve done has been a solo pursuit. I share a studio with Ishmail (De Niro, currently showing at Cheap Cheap) but we’ve never worked collaboratively, maybe in an informal capacity, in terms of fabrication. Everything has been completely my hand, no guidance, no assistance, so to me it was alien to enter something where foundationally it is about working collaboratively, and in respect of that, compromise. It’s been, genuinely, a huge learning curve in terms of communication. Particularly because we’re dispersed across the country, and the way that we primarily communicate is online which can be a huge asset but also a hindrance. But I think we both have got… good things out of it?

AG: Well, we’ve got this out of it, which is enough. I said to a friend, “If I’ve only got one thing out of School of the Damned, it’s being able to connect with Leah”. Fuck it, fair enough. You’re my favourite School of the Damned member!

LH: [Laughs] You’re my favourite!

AG: [Laughs] Now this is just, narcissism isn’t it? It’s those little things that make it worthwhile and valuable, even if it throws you a curveball as to what it actually is? In anything you meet a handful of people that have similar outlooks, on where they want to take their practice and art in general. You slowly find more and more of those people along the way, and it starts to feel like something.

LH: I think that’s what I enjoy about what we’ve been participating in. I’ve said this time and time again, being an artist feels really isolating? It’s very difficult to communicate why this thing brings me joy and value and feeling and meaning, Especially to people that aren’t initiated into contemporary art.

About the text within the show: Was that produced in response to the artwork, was that written beforehand, was it one long running stream of consciousness?

AG: It was fragmented, partially written prior to the exhibition, partially spurred on by Alice’s invite, partially written during production. It’s an amalgamation of aphorisms and short bursts of text. Roughly ordered collections of disparate thoughts, which is what the body of work itself feels like, each text feels not completely connected, often contradictory. A lot of it flowed out from the subjects of the show: animals, collectivity, decay, utopia . Some writing came from the diagrams I developed, likewise some diagrams came from the texts that ended up being more instructional or didactic than others. I like that all those things can exist together in a miasma, all those odds and ends of ideas come together to create this vague cloud and I’d quite like to lean into that.

LH: I liked how it was presented as well, physically, how it’s bound. I thought that was really interesting, because I like text, I just really like text and writing. Is that something that you’ll continue to pursue or did it feel specific to the exhibition?

AG: I’ll definitely continue to pursue it. Maybe that presentation was exhibition specific, although a lot of it is an aesthetic I’ve developed through research and reading, and will continue to call on. I think often about the visual representation of text, it being as much an object and how it looks, as much as it is a piece of writing and what it says.

LH: Oh, I think that’s important. I think that’s embedded within everything. It’s within the typeface that you use, it’s within how the words are presented physically on the page, it’s within the material that you use, the paper weight, everything. I think that that’s really important.

AG: Yeah, yeah, I think that plays into it a lot. I can’t remember if there was anything else that I had to say about that. What else have you got?

LH: I don’t know? What have you got coming up?

AG: There’s a School of the Damned show opening at SET September 7th, and just before that Sam’s exhibition at Forth closes. The next exhibition is in October, with Lena Mai Merle.

Life is relentless. There’s the scene in ‘Forrest Gump’, where he stops running? He says, “I’m pretty tired, think I’ll go home now”. That plays over in my head. I’ve been marathoning it for a while, just watching the fucking great hairs multiply. But it all falls into place. It’s nice at The Field now Summer is here, you can get outside in the sun and enjoy what we have out there. One day they’ll turn around and tell us to leave and I’ll wish I’d gone on a few more walks, looked at the flowers, sat by the lake more. I’m trying to channel that alongside everything else [Laughs].

LH: [Laughs] Cool! That sounds good. Cool. Shall we draw it to a close?

AG: There’ll be something good in there, hopefully.

LH: Any last words before we press stop?

AG: Thank you.

LH: Thank you!


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If you like this why not read our interview with Annette Pugh


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