Artist interview between Shannon Skye Robinson (Curating Futures Project Coordinator), and Sharon Haward (Curating Futures Artist).
Date of Interview: 18th of July 2021
Participants: Shannon Skye Robinson (SSR) and Sharon Haward (SH)
SSR: What is your background?
SH: I am a visual artist based in the South East and have worked with artists and curators from Europe and the UK. I have used a number of funded residencies to help develop my practice and have created installations and interventions in abandoned, empty and public spaces in UK, Belgium, Bulgaria, France and Norway. I often work in site-specific ways and have made work for different places including a chateau, an electrical substation, a Victorian fort, a decommissioned fire station and a railway station. Projects and collaborations created over the last ten years include those created for established galleries and art spaces such as Art Gene, Barrow-in-Furness; Fabrica, Brighton; Towner, Eastbourne; De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill; Sassoon Gallery, Folkestone; Espace 36, St Omer; Phoenix, Brighton; Process Space Festival, Plovdiv; Sluice HQ, London.
I studied Fine Art at Newcastle University and gained an MA in Digital Media Arts at the University of Brighton.
SSR: How did you get into art/ creativity?
SH: My Mum was very creative, she was always making things and taking up various creative activities so the creative spirit was always around me.
SSR: What do you get out of producing work?
SH: It can be a very up and down process but when things are going well you get into the ‘zone’, a bit like athletes do, you become suspended in your thinking and the making process.
SSR: How do you want your work to be perceived by an audience?
SH: I’m not sure artists can control how their work is perceived by audiences but I am always interested in listening to what people think and how they have interpreted the work as this can add to the evolving narrative of the work.
SSR: Who are your biggest inspirations?
SH: I continue to be inspired by the work of artists like Anna Maria Maiolino, Gordon Matta-Clark, Louise Bourgeois, Karla Black, Thomas Hirschorn, Franz West and many others. I am also inspired by architects like Lina bo Bardi, Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray, Zaha Hadid and I like to read books about architecture, gender and design, my current favourite being ‘Negotiating Domesticity’. I have also been inspired by the writings of Juhani Pallasmaa about the senses and architecture.
SSR: What are the main concepts or themes you explore within your work?
SH: My expanded paintings and my sculptural work are based on the traces and remnants of specific architectural forms and features, the impressions they leave on the memory and their relationship to the human form. Each composition consists of an arrangement of grids, openings, printed and painted surfaces that suggest hard, rational, exteriors and softer, folded, interior spaces. The arrangement of forms evolve through a kind of unplanned dance between constructed, painted, printed and sewn fragments and the creation of larger impromptu fields of painting and collage or sculptural forms, always referring back to the traces of urban spaces and buildings. I am interested in exploring how these objects interact with the space they are shown in and those moving through it.
Recent developments with clay came out of lockdown and using the clay found in my garden, which led to looking for and finding other clay sources locally. I then had time to process the raw clay myself, explore the varying qualities and colours of beach and stream clays and with a minimal amount of intervention, let the qualities of the clay reveal themselves.
SSR: What is the main thing you have learnt through your creative practice?
SH: I have learnt to be adaptable and resilient, not to take rejection to heart and to just keep going. Working and listening to other artists, makers, audiences etc are also helpful and can be supportive.
SSR: Who is your work for? Yourself? A small community? A specific sector of society? Or is it for everyone?
SH: Initially it has to work for me otherwise I hope anyone can connect to it or get something from it. We all inhabit buildings and react in different ways to them so hopefully, audiences can connect in some way.
SSR: What is the best piece of advice you could give to another artist, or someone just starting out in the creative sector?
SH: Look around, listen to others and just keep going.
SSR: Why did you decide to join the Curating Futures community?
SH: It sounded like an interesting project and a good opportunity to do something creative with a range of other artists.