Doug Bowen


Interview by David McLeavy

Published May 2015

-

Doug Bowen's work shrugs off any particular aesthetic trend in order to investigate and challenge ideas around language, visual signifiers and perception. By using a variety of techniques, Bowen asks questions and explores the way a simple gesture can produce a profound outcome.

-

Your artwork seems to shrug off any particular stylistic commonalities or trends and has, what seems to be, a ‘case by case’ aesthetic. Do you feel like this is an accurate description and if so could you elaborate on your choice of visual outputs.

Yeah definitely; it’s funny, because I’ve always thought I wanted a ‘style', you know so people can be like; “hey that’s a so and so”. I think that’s probably ingrained from school - having to copy someone’s style of painting or whatever. But I think having a style can be quite constricting, and I guess it’s also something that would/could be developed over time. With my work at the moment, the ideas the work play with is primary and the visual is secondary. They are made of the certain materials and look that particular way so they convey the idea.



(from left to right) Frame work, Polyfilla, 2014

“YOU CAN’T C ME”, Two-way mirror acrylic, 2014

Tumbleweeds #2, #3, #4, spray paint, MDF, 2014

Rider #1, 1 x double hotel room, 1 x ice bucket, 6 x Samuel Smith’s ale, 1 x pint glass, 2 x white towels, 1 x large smiley face pizza, 1 x 190g of Maynards Sports Mix (in bowl), 1 x safe (to store valuables), 2014


How do you approach the issue of selecting your work? Your show at Bloc Projects titled Stuff contained around 6 –7 works if I remember correctly, did you make a lot more than that during your residency or was that every work you made?

I don’t really see it as an issue. I guess the reason why is; a lot of my work at the moment is structured to work with other works. So, for example, in stuff the wall drawing 'OK don’t worry I got this’ displayed 'tumbleweed #1’.
In terms of making work for the residency - I’d ‘made’ way more works in my head. But y’ know the residency was only a few weeks, so I guess I did a kinda shopping list show; only getting the essentials to have a conclusion as to what I’d been thinking about. The space was first of all supposed to act as a studio space, but it felt more like an elongated install really (in what was to become the gallery - which is why you may have noticed doodles on the walls). So during that time I preselected ideas that would/could be shown together, and made the works accordingly.

I want to talk about the way you use and often play with language within your work. Two of your works in stuff consisted of holes drilled into the ceiling and the debris it produced on the floor. You then titled these works [’’’’’] and [,,,,,]. Could you talk a little more about how these works were formed and their relationship with their titles?

So yeah, on the works list they were displayed like this:
[’’’’’]
[,,,,,]
Both titles are punctuation symbols of the works - the idea being that they simply represent each work visually, and quite blatantly correlate with one another. ’ being the highest punctuation mark and , being the lowest. [’’’’’] is a work comprising of 20mm drilled holes (evenly spaced) all around the highest point of the gallery walls - so it looked as if it was a perforated edge. [,,,,,] is the dust created from the making of [’’’’’], which in this instance was mostly brick dust. I guess it was just an interest in playing with the process and actions of exhibition making. The gallery has a high triangular ceiling which is quite distracting and a curved skirting-board-like edging all the way around (ideal for collecting dust), so I wanted to make some works that worked with these aspects.



BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!, Decals, 2015


I want to talk a little more about your work Rider #1. It consists of a series of demands proposed to Bloc Projects as part of your recent Graduate Residency, similar to that of a pop star. What were you aiming for with this work?

The first incarnation of the ongoing series of artist rider works, Rider #1, was a list of preferred items given to the gallery to be on a spread for the PV, which only I or friends could access. The items were listed on the materials list, but to be fair, the audience would probably encounter the work afterwards, so wouldn’t know if it was completed or incomplete. It was mostly just food and beers really!

One of the common teachings from certain arts professionals is to think about how you may sum up your practice in 30 seconds. How do you feel about this notion and do you feel that you would be able to do so yourself bearing in mind the breath of your practice.

As a recent graduate often I feel that there is an expectation to be able to sum up your practice in a short sentence. It’s not necessarily the breadth of my practice, but also the early stages of it. I’m in the process of being able to by working on making a bigger body of work. At the moment I’m working on more individual projects that are largely around the same principle, which aren’t summed up that quickly. I dunno though, I think it’s pretty dull to be honest; discussions are way more interesting. Also, I think if you become too caught up in the whole summarising/condensing it maybe causes you to focus too heavily on the box you’ve put yourself in.



...I got this, Tape, 2015


Do you find that being based in Leeds has any effect on your work?

Inevitably your environment does have some sort of impact on your work, I think it’s more socially - you know like local scenes etc. I dunno how much of an overall effect it has anymore. But having said that, I think more precisely; recently moving into Leeds Weirdo Club (a studio shared with Matt Crawley, David Steans and Harry Meadley) has had more of an effect on my work. A more conscious effect anyways. Due to there being a constant dialogue between us all - each of us has an individual practice, but naturally through conversations there are collaborations between us. As well as it being a site for production, LWC also has a public programme of exhibitions, which is wicked because it means we can mess around with ideas and gives us the freedom to produce ambitious works made in situ.



Gently Used, Custom-made mascot suit, (Doug Bowen, Matt Crawley, Harry Meadley, David Steans), 2015


I want to talk a little more about your involvement with Leeds Wierdo Club. How did your involvement come about and did you always feel like it was natural and almost inevitable that you would move into their studio due to you working in such close proximity with Matt, David and Harry?

Pretty much yeah! I’ve been mates with Matt, Dave and Harry for a couple of years now anyways. We’ve got similar interests and ambitions, so it makes sense all of us working on a collaborative project together. I guess initially my integration into the club was similar to that of a motorcycle gang. So firstly I had a “prospect” period, a time in a biker gang where you learn about the Club, the Members (etc.) and is also when the Members of the Club evaluate your future within the organisation. So in that time, I was the ‘Legal Department’ whereby I represented the Club by heading up all public social media outlets. Then eventually (after graduating from University), I was accepted as a full member.

-

Doug Bowen lives and works in Leeds. Recent exhibitions include Cheese Cube, Toast Manchester, Free Things, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Leeds, £1 Fish, S1 Artspace, Sheffield and Ex, Blip Blip Blip, Leeds.

-

If you like this why not read our interview with Lotti V Closs

-

© 2013 - 2018 YAC | Young Artists in Conversation ALL RIGHTS RESERVED