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. Seaward spoke about his background in art history and work at Bonham’s auction house, his interest in technological advancement and his own curatorial project space ‘The Parasite’.
Hector Campbell: You studied History of Art at the University of Leeds before going on to complete an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art. Does this academic backing in art history influence your own artistic practice? And if so in what ways?
Victor Seaward: I think it does but in a subtle manner – Art History is always something at the back of my mind when I make a work, I try to ensure that I am not making something overly derivative or that relies too much on familiar territory. I guess I am trying to find my own voice and it can help to be able to draw upon a wide range of references. Art History is a potent source of inspiration but for me, not something that specifically drives the work, more like an internal control mechanism.
One of the reasons I was drawn to Leeds is that the Art History course had a very strong emphasis on aesthetics, and that’s increasingly become the most useful tool for my artistic practice.
H.C: You worked for four years at Bonhams Auctioneers as a Junior Specialist in Post-War & Contemporary Art, does this also influence your own creative output?
V.S: I was lucky to handle some fantastic works in the Post-War and Contemporary Art department, but it was exposure to works of art from other departments which really influenced me: antiquities, old masters, Chinese and Japanese art, silverware, and even furniture. When I started in the department I spent quite a lot of time at their warehouse and was exposed to some amazing works: massive Buddhist bronzes, monolithic altars, Egyptian wood carvings and Etruscan marbles. All these ancient artefacts have such beautiful patination, with an authenticity only attained from centuries of aging. There is a certain sense of mystery you feel when handling these objects – they feel different, charged, almost alien, and that is something I try to capture in my own artwork.
H.C: In this current exhibition at Kristian Day, many of your concrete panels are on display. Can you talk some more about this series of work? What led you to experiment with concrete as a medium?
V.S: I have been using concrete for about four years now, having started when I was still at Bonhams, making work in isolation in my East London flat. I started using it for technical purposes, I wanted to make casts that had a permanence to them. Just looking out of the window and seeing it everywhere, it seemed a natural medium to try it out. Concrete is something that permeates the urban environment: it shelters us, protects us, and allows for transformative infrastructure. Yet despite its inherent utilitarianism, it retains a very alluring materiality, a cold muteness that I try and exploit. In recent concrete works I have focussed on more unconventional types of patination such as rust, smoke residue, and pewter in order to try and exploit to a greater degree the mechanical properties of the concrete panels.
H.C: You clearly have a keen interest in modern technologies, having made a 3D printer from scratch which produced the PLA Townley Discobolus on display within your work ‘Chamber’ (2018). What advantages do you believe technology such as 3D printing can bring to contemporary art?
V.S: There’s certainly an immediacy with technology that I drawn to, but it’s more the potential for errors and mutations that I’m really interested in. The 3D printer I made functions simultaneously as an artwork and a tool. It was originally made with its raison d’être being as a performative artwork: from the mechanical properties to the coding. As such the prints are not particularly tight, but this allows for little errors and ‘noise’ to creep in, and these seem like the most genuine parts.
In a wider context I think both additive and subtractive manufacturing can open up massive new areas of possibility for artists, and both these technologies are becoming more and more commonplace in art production. This is a good thing; I think artists should use technologies appropriate to their era where appropriate.
H.C: You recently created The Parasite, a project space currently attached to the Sackler Building on Radstock Street. Can you explain the ideas behind the space? How have you found the experience of setting up and curating the space?
V.S: The Parasite is very much an extension of my work but, rather than being a definitive realised artwork in its own right, it acts as a framework in which other artists can display their work. It’s essentially a micro-gallery that’s attached to the side of the Sackler Building at the RCA, and has so far hosted six exhibitions.
I felt the need to bring a curatorial aspect to my practice and this was a way to be able to do it without having to rent, or own, a bona fide space. As such it also acts as a thinly veiled response to the current gallery space climate of the London art scene. It is by its very nature a parasitic space – feeding off the location and footfall of the host without any financial commitments. I’m interested in display and containment and I have made several vitrines in the past so it was logical for the Parasite to take the form of an industrial post-luxury display vitrine. The way the artists have responded by altering their practices in order to exhibit in an absurdly small space has been very interesting.
As well as being parasitic it is also a nomadic space, and now I’ve graduated it will be moved to a new location/host.