Hot ‘N’ Gold magazine loves the digitally delicious work of Bristol based artist – Lewk Wilmshurst! He talks us through the semiotics of his sampled imagery as we chat fruit, flamingos and the World Wide Web.
Hello Lewk! Firstly, whereabouts are you from? Can you tell us a little bit about your creative background?
I grew up in a little village outside of Oxford enjoying nature and drawing, I studied at The Bath School of Art & Design and I now live and work in Bristol.
Hot ‘N’ Gold magazine loves your digital collages of sampled images! What are some of your earliest memories of the internet?
5 minute loading times, emails to girlfriends on holiday, dreams of hacking. It was on my Foundation course that I started using the internet as an image resource working onto printed images in sketchbooks, collaging and amassing my database of images
Your work presents a juxtaposition between technology and the natural world. What attracts you to explore this opposition?
I can understand the reading of my work as a presentation of incongruity between our use of technology and the natural world but I don’t believe that there is an opposition. Other animals use tools too. I think the only apparent distance between technology and nature is in our perception of what nature is. We see ourselves and our achievements as separate, as opposed to part and product of it. I find this relationship with the concept of what is natural interesting and that is what attracts me to make work around these ideas.
It’s hard to choose… but Event Horizon (2014) is a Hot ‘N’ Gold favourite! Can you talk us through the image?
Event Horizon embodies those ideas. I chose a Flamingo as an example of a 'natural' animal with synthetic qualities such as the lurid colouring, weird beak and odd shape. I also like the fact that the geography required for its habitat means that the way in which human beings have knowledge of them is synthetic itself. Although the same can be said of many animals, the vast majority of us only know of them by being on display in Zoos, images on the internet or in books. I tried to reflect that through the work by using as many different styles of presenting the flamingos as I could, 3D modelling programmes, photographs, painted and drawn illustrations. The title refers to the threshold of a breakdown in understanding before a singularity. The most common example of that would be the edge of a black hole. As with most of my titles I like to use them as a scene setter or a mood generator for the piece. In keeping with that, I based the image around the scene of a setting sun over a horizon. In the image there are multiple suns and multiple horizons, multiple events and multiple perspectives.
How has Art History informed your practice?
Art History makes my practice possible. You could even argue probable!! I guess the history of painting is the most relevant to the reading of my work. As a child, learning about semiotics, the idea that an image can mean something and often much more than a series of words. Sampling and assembling those images together to create an essay or symphony that could be read in an instant or over a lifetime or over hundreds of years, excited and inspired me. But the history of art is only a point of reference to facilitate reading. History both human, biological and geological is what makes the history of art possible and our projection of the future is just as, if not more important, as to how and why we make Art today. When talking, it’s the meaning conveyed in what we are saying that is important, not how we learnt the words to say it.
You make digital fruit look so delicious! What is it about fruit you enjoy the most?
I enjoy fruit as most of us funny little naked apes do! but I use it in my work as a symbol of globalism. The editions of cast fruit that I make are also silly jokes on the disfunction of the Art object and I hope reiterate that idea of the value of art lies in its concepts.
In your opinion, what other contemporary artists deserves some r.e.s.p.e.c.t?
Rachel Champion, Catja Novitskova, Rashid Johnson, Vince Mckelvie, Tristan Stevens, Gabrielle Beveridge, Gordon Cheung, Isa Genzken, Zoe Williams, Doug Aitken, just to name a few. I used to run a blog called http://artsatlas.tumblr.com/ there are loads of great artists to look at on there.
Finally, what projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a piece for the Bristol Biennial with MadeScapes^ http://madescapes.com/ my Artist collaborative, I just won an award for the Neo:PrintPrize with the last of my previous body of work, I’m just finishing up on 6 pieces of new work, I’ve got a show curated by David. A. Smith for Yarrow Gallery in November and after that i’ll focusing on more online projects.
All images copyright © 2014 Lewk Wilmshurst
Event Horizon © 2014 Lewk Wilmshurst
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