“It’s all about making the work, not the career.” An interview with Laura Ford, the lead artist of HOUSE Biennial

By Anna Savitskaya - Thursday, September 7, 2017
“It’s all about making the work, not the career.”  An interview with Laura Ford, the lead artist of HOUSE Biennial

This year, the first edition of HOUSE Biennial: Brighton & Hove’s new contemporary visual arts festival (30 September-5 November, 2017), announces Laura Ford as their lead artist. Laura Ford is an established British artist who works across a range of media from sculpture and painting to drawing, ceramics and modelling. For HOUSE Biennial, Ford is producing a new commission in the form of a series of new works for presentation at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. Her large-scale sculptural works will be made for one of the main exhibition spaces, while smaller works will be placed amongst the Museum’s collection and at associated HOUSE Biennial 2017 venues.

“It’s all about making the work, not the career.”  An interview with Laura Ford, the lead artist of HOUSE Biennial

This year, the first edition of HOUSE Biennial: Brighton & Hove’s new contemporary visual arts festival (30 September-5 November, 2017), announces Laura Ford as their lead artist. Laura Ford is an established British artist who works across a range of media from sculpture and painting to drawing, ceramics and modelling. 

For HOUSE Biennial, Ford is producing a new commission in the form of a series of new works for presentation at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. Her large-scale sculptural works will be made for one of the main exhibition spaces, while smaller works will be placed amongst the Museum’s collection and at associated HOUSE Biennial 2017 venues. For this commission, Ford was inspired by satirical cartoons from the Regency period, as well as imagery and figures found in the Willett’s ceramic Collection of Popular Pottery at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. Artdependence Magazine had a chance to ask Laura Ford some questions about her sources of inspiration, attitude towards public art and use of humour.

Artdependence Magazine: It seems that all your work has been inspired by living creatures: people, animals, imaginary characters from childhood memories. Is this your main source of inspiration? 

Laura Ford: I’m inspired by observing aspects of everyday life and experience - particularly by the stories we tell ourselves to explain these behaviours. I do a lot of reading about and looking at and watching other peoples descriptions and stories, in literature, in film, in sculpture, in dance etc.  

AD: You work with a range of media like sculpture, drawing, painting, ceramics, modelling in wax and clay - even sewing. Is there a medium you still haven't used but are planning to?

LF: Yes almost certainly, but the choice of material comes through finding in them the right qualities to express the ideas and emotions I might want to communicate. So as I develop and am exposed to new contexts, the new materials and methodologies press themselves forward as possible new choices.

AD: You also create a lot of public art. Is it a bigger responsibility making an artwork that is accessible to all and situated in a public domain?

LF: It’s a bigger responsibility as the viewer hasn't necessarily chosen to look at the work. Viewers in a museum or gallery, by volunteering to enter that space, have entered into a contract that validates the possibility of their being shocked or annoyed. In public art, there is a responsibility to take care not to create unnecessary provocations.  It’s also something that will be seen many times and may become very familiar, so it has to be something that can sustain interest and reveal itself slowly.

Laura Ford, Silent Howler II, 2016. Bronze. Photo courtesy Perren Street studios

Laura Ford, Days-of-Judgement, 2012-2015. Bronze. Photo courtesy Gautier Deblonde

AD: Humour seems to be an integral part of your art. Why? 

LF: I think you can talk about difficult subjects when there is humour. People are less defensive and happier to go along with you.

AD: What advice would you give to young emerging artists? 

LF: Just that it’s all about making the work, not the career.

AD: What contemporary artists do you follow?

LF: Rosemary Trockel, Thomas Schutte, Paul Mcarthy, William Kentridge, among lots and lots of others. I suppose these artists in particular helped me feel more comfortable about being a figurative artist.

AD: Being selected as a lead artist of the HOUSE Biennial you have produced a new commission in the form of satirical cartoon sculptures from the Regency period, as well as imagery and figures found in the Willett’s ceramic Collection of Popular Pottery at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. Can you tell us a bit more about this series of works?

LF: The sculptures I have made for House Biennial are based on the satirical cartoons of George's Giraffe, his divorce and his advisors/critics. I love the wit and immediacy of these drawings. Much of the satire I imagine to have been as effective in determining public opinion about George as some of the great cartoons and memes of Trump today. The same can be said of some of the works in the Willet's collection. It's been a great honour to have been given the opportunity to be the lead artist in the House Biennial. I have loved doing the research and had great fun making the work.  I hope visitors to the show will be as excited about it as I am.

Laura Ford, A King’s Appetite, ceramic (detail, work in progress).

 

Laura Ford, Maquette for Green bags, Queen.

Laura Ford, Maquette for the King's giraffe.

More about HOUSE Biennial is here.

Anna is a graduate of Moscow’s Photo Academy, with a previous background in intellectual property rights. In 2012 she founded the company Perspectiva Art, dealing in art consultancy, curatorship, and the coordination of exhibitions. During the bilateral year between Russia and The Netherlands in 2013, Perspectiva Art organized a tour for a Dutch artist across Russia, as well as putting together several exhibitions in the Netherlands, curated by Anna. Since October 2014, Anna has taken an active role in the development and management of ArtDependence Magazine. Anna interviews curators and artists, in addition to reviewing books and events, and collaborating with museums and art fairs.

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