N.B. Originally published to accompany the group exhibition ‘arc.’, curated by Kristian Day at Herrick Gallery, 09/08/2018-31/08/2018.
Kristian Day recently opened his latest exhibition, ‘arc.’, at Herrick Gallery in Mayfair, featuring the work of young London-based artists Mark Corfield-Moore, Victor Seaward, Nathaniel Faulkner and Fani Parali. Over the course of it’s three-week duration Writer and Art Historian Hector Campbell spoke to the artists about their influences, creative process and exhibited work. Corfield-Moore spoke about his interest and education in art history, his series of ‘Parasol’ works and his experience with artistic residencies.
Hector Campbell: You studied History of Art at University College London before going on complete a BA in Fine Art at Central St Martins and a Post-Graduate Diploma at the Royal Academy Schools. Does this academic backing in art history influence your own artistic practice? And if so in what ways?
Mark Corfield-Moore: Yes, absolutely. I think Art History taught me how to approach art with an overview, seeing how one period or movement changed onto the next. Because I was taught in modules, I could have a class on the Florentine Renaissance in the morning followed by Post-War Abstract Art in the afternoon. It forced my mind to be nimble, dexterous and move through the thinking of different historical periods simultaneously. I think that’s why, in my own practice, I enjoy transversing through subject matters from disparate places and time periods. I often come across a wide range of historical characters, from Luisa Casati, who would walk her pet cheetahs in Venice, to Kitty Fisher, an 18th-century courtesan who would eat money sandwiches. These subjects stay with me and I sit on them until an idea for a work comes.
H.C: You’ve recently become interested in the history of weaving and 13th-century Peruvian tapestry. How did this interest present itself to you? And what made you incorporate those ideas into your current work?
M.C-M: I find I use fabric as a metaphor for my thinking method. Because I like to pick, choose and travel through different subject matters, it relates to the history of weaving, fabrics having always been a very nomadic material. Historically used for tents and carpets, they briefly take ownership of a particular location whilst retaining an innate sense of sitelessness.
My weaving ‘The Tourist’ played with this idea. I came across, and subsequently adapted, an image of a 13th-century Peruvian tapestry whilst I was looking in an Anni Albers. The image caught my attention because it reminded me of a favourite Rosemarie Trockel knitted work. So because that image was hitting all these disparate reference points simultaneously, traversing and negotiating through different textile artists that I admired, it made sense to make a work from it.
H.C: ‘Studied Carelessness’, ‘Bored Courtier’ and ‘Parasol at Night’, a series of works exhibited at your post-graduate degree show at the RA Schools and in part in this latest exhibition at Herrick Gallery, are inspired by Amalfi Coast parasols. Could you talk some more about this particular series of works, and it’s inspiration.
M.C-M: I’m interested in parasols because they are, similarly to fabrics, essentially nomadic objects. Once put up, they temporarily provide a shelter and a threshold between public and private space, between man and nature. I think people put up parasols to claim a space worthy of inhabiting for a while, so it declares a particular site as beautiful or worthy of human interest. They automatically create a ‘view’ within the landscape.
I’ve also been interested by a term called ‘sprezzatura’ for a while, which oriented in Baldassare Castiglione‘s ‘The Book of the Courtier’ (1528), defined as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. I thought it would be fun to have these parasols as characters or stand-ins for courtiers, the lazy aides to sunbathers, as they both inhabitant this idea of the leisurely and lounging, louche yet refined.
H.C: Having studied the history of the weaving process, how have you sought to update that process in the current technologically advanced age? Does the use of digital media now assist this traditionally analogue medium of handwoven tapestries?
M.C-M: The thing about weaving is that the process has remained essentially the same for thousands of years. It’s always just a combination of the warp and the weft. Because I do all my own weaving by hand and on an old loom, digital processes don’t really come into my process at all. However, while I researched the dobby loom, I found it interesting that it was considered one of the first precursors to the computer, the digital, as they are both binary systems. I sometimes think my resulting fabrics have an appearance of ‘screen sheen’, and because I use the technique of ikat, distinctive because the form can appear blurred, it reminds me of a computer glitch, but made using a process that predates the digital by thousands of years.
H.C: You’ve completed artists residencies at Monte San Martino (Italy) and Stokkoya (Norway), what is it you enjoy about participating in such residencies? What are the advantages over the conventional process of producing and exhibiting work?
M.C-M: I enjoy residences as they a provide an intense situation in which to exchange ideas and work collaboratively. Put simply you don’t have a lot of time, so things happen and decisions get made quickly, which I find quite refreshing. It’s also not just about you and your practice when you work in a group you relinquish total control and different people take the lead at different points. I find the result of such residencies stimulating as you would never have done what you are left with on your own, but you can take things learnt and shared back to your own studio practice.