Image: Aimee Parrott
From the series 'Energy is the eternal delight'
May 17 PV 6 - 9pm
Banner (iii) 2018
pigmented latex, linen
180cm x 240cm
Launch of Aimee Parrott's exhibition at Trade.
6-9pm Thursday 17th May
Wednesday 23rd May 6pm - 7:30pm
Free tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/aimee-parrott-in-conversation-tickets-46044613679
18th May - 9th June (Extra dates TBC)
And at other times by appointment -
As long as the sun lasts 2018
vinyl on glass
85cm x 109cm
If someone comes into the space and they're not familiar with your work - what is an easy way into the work?
My starting point is always painting, my practice sort of orbits it but can be pulled about and slip into to other territories such as drawing, textiles or sculpture.
I enjoy the self-contained density of painting, in that it can be an image that takes you somewhere else and yet has its own particular physicality. This play between these two modes of looking fascinates me.
Finished pieces are often hybrid combinations of materials and processes, most works are stretched onto a frame so have the look of a traditional painting, however I never prime the canvas so there is a slightly different relationship with the surface.
I treat canvas as a permeable layer that pigment or gesture can seep through, often working both sides of the surface - I spend a lot of time un-stretching and re-stretching a piece, it is very mobile as I’m making; it rotates, and is turned inside out or upside down. The orientation of a work is usually found only after a lot of movement.
The work I make can be quite diverse materially; at the moment, alongside pieces that sit quite close to painting I also work with latex. With these latex pieces I’m working backwards in a sense. I have to bury my first marks to build up the surface, so I’m working partially blind, trying to remember the step I took before. I pigment liquid latex and then paint it onto perspex sheets, the latex is built up in thin layers until it forms a skin which is then peeled away from the sheets. So in essence I suppose they are paintings with no support.
So the work is in a sense led by the materials, if we take a step back, how do you begin with a work? or how do you start to make in the studio?
While individual works might not look particularly labour intensive, it often takes me a long time to arrive at what I judge to be a finished, coherent piece. If I have been away from the studio for a while I find it takes me time to warm up and get into a rhythm. I tend to start making with a particular agenda which mostly results in quite literal work that usually fails. The next step is the crucial; and that is to try to summon the confidence to let something fail and in doing so disrupt initial ideas and rebuild from the ruins. For me there has to be room for chance during making, space for something unexpected to occur that might steer me off in a different direction. I regularly introduce new techniques and processes into my practice to unsettle things. Rather than conveying an air of ease and a mastery of materials I want the work to reveal a sense of grappling unsteadiness.
Sometimes I find I can’t make something work unless I’ve almost totally disregarded its worth. Once something is ruined it holds no weight so there is no pressure on me, I can just experiment and play as though it is a practice run; this is usually when I begin to see some life in the work again. In my last show there were three or four pieces included that were typical of this process - they only were successful after being completely reworked.
When you say reworked what do you mean, more layers?
In my case re-working often means doing something bold and spontaneous to obscure the existing surface or turning the fabric inside out and re-stretching. The configuration of marks might come out in a more interesting way on the underside for instance, there can be a fluidity to these unintentional marks but it’s just impossible to go directly to them. I suppose it is a more elaborate way of laying a wash of colour down on a blank canvas.
What images are you using in this exhibition?
The imagery in this show derives from an ongoing series of prints; for several years I have been making books of monotypes and each book groups together a single printing session, restricting every book in this way gives each a sense of wholeness, from a particular moment in time, but also is reflective of the speed and fluidity of the approach.
When a monotype is printed it leaves behind a film on the plate or a ‘ghost print’ this can then be reworked or reinterpreted to form the next print so it lends itself to a slowly evolving seriality, the imagery warps and shifts through the series. Using the format of a book gives it a pace and a rhythm and is a bit like experiencing the sequence of thought. The prints are made quite quickly and intuitively with a democratic approach that allows the shift from figuration to abstraction to be made without judgement. Initially at least.
The latex piece contains a warped image of the back and front of a female figure. The distortion is emphasised further by the way it is hung. I think of this work in relation to pieces that are stretched onto a frame. Its slackness and weight are somehow exaggerated by the comparison as though the pull of gravity on to it has been multiplied. The weight of the latex is important - it changes the image, it is stretched and sagging like a lumpen shell or a skin without a body to give it shape.
I love the abundance of movement in early animation, like ’Steamboat Willie’. I think it seems as though the animators were so bowled over by their new ability to make a drawing appear to move that all the forms were subjected to an incredible force. Every inanimate object in the frame sways and stretches to impossible proportions, snapping back or metamorphosing into something else. I think the latex pieces are like a single frame of an animation, suddenly halted and bound down by their own weight.
In the window piece the same figures are also warped but there is a weightlessness to them, they overlap and shift and fragment. More like a liquid or gas than a solid.
Is it a generic human?
I suppose I want it to feel like a universal figure in a sense but knowing I’m limited by my own perspective and experience. On the other hand I use the naked female form in my work because it is loaded with meaning, particularly in the context of art history.
I want the forms to approach the complexity between personal and internal experience and external pressure or expectation. This is not only a female experience of course but it can be heightened for women.
But, I don’t think of these works as being didactic. They are more uncertain than that, more conflicted. They are large, looming, disobedient bodies but there is a vulnerability to the way they blush, to their hairless saggy-ness.
Can you talk a little more about the window works?
The gallery is such a particular space. I wanted to use it in a way that was sensitive to its features and its restrictions. Having just hung a show of predominantly paintings I wanted to use this exhibition to show a different side of my practice.
I think the impulse to work with light comes from using watercolours for a long time. It is such a difficult medium to use because it is so easily over-worked, the paper becomes the light source and the surface is built up in translucent layers.
Using coloured vinyl on the windows seems like an extension of that way of working, the difference being that the pieces will change dramatically with the light and the weather.
There potential for the forms on the window to be projected across the the room, onto the forms of the the latex work.
Image of Aimee Parrott's
As long as the sun lasts 2018,
projecting on top of Banner (iii) 2018.
Exhibition Supported by Arts Council England