Annette Abundantia graduated from Goldsmiths University in 2012, Art Practice. Her surname is from the Roman Goddess Abundantia who represents Abundance. She explores abundance in life in a kind of diary, which investigates her personal/private life by questioning who she is and how she can pursuit abundant dreams. Who are we? How do we try to build up our self-perception – our self image? How do we manage to create order and map our life? She believes the mapping of ourselves influences our conduct in the world – we use mapping to understand, decode and construct ourselves and other people. It can be both on an emotional and materialistic level. Prosperity for Annette Abundantia is both in terms of a rich inner and outer live where she explores how the two terms are linked. How is it possible to live in integrity with herself and the world, who is she and what gives her a direction in life?
Annette will soon show at Denmark’s Fokus Video Art Festival, and we did a short Q&A with her about this opportunity and art practice in general:
What can we expect from Annette in 2013?
I would really like to make more video art going into depth around questions of identity and especially identity as a woman. Exploring all the different emotions I am going through in life as well as all the things which seduce me and make my passion grow in a kind of identity context.
Next step would be continuing presenting me and my art to the world, especially the art world, and I have a dream collaborating with luxury brands one day. I believe that the higher ambitions I have, the more I can attract the best opportunities. I look forward to a screening of my film in Whitechapel Gallery this year.
Can you tell us more about your involvement in Fokus Video Art Festival?
I am very happy because I have been shortlisted and nominated as one of the best 10 video artists to win the prestigious prize “Fokus Open Call 2013″ in Denmark. It is a great honour and a big opportunity to be part of a video art festival which shows the best artists nationally and internationally. My video will be exhibited in Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen, Denmark from the 7th of February to the 3rd of March 2013. In addition, the 10 nominated videos will also be shown different places around Copenhagen. Denmark is a small country and I love the idea that Fokus Video Art Festival would like to map themselves internationally and be in front when it comes to video art. They have big ambitions and show the best video art.
How did you come across Fokus Video Art Festival and how does it suit your artistic practice?
Actually, it was a so-called coincidence. I saw it on Facebook and I had one day to apply before the deadline. I knew it was a big opportunity and applied quickly. In fact, is was one of the best opportunities for me since I am making video art and I have ambitions being a part of the fine art world. It is also a privilege being part of such a big established art institution because everything is professionally organized and planned and they collaborate with the best people in the industry. I feel very lucky and grateful.
Which piece will you be showing at the festival and can you tell us a bit more about it?
At the Fokus Festival I will be showing a video “Millionaire Mentor.” which I produced in London whilst completing my BA at Goldsmiths in 2012. The film is exploring “A Feminine Approach to Money” and is shot in the financial district at Canary Wharf, Bank Street and the rest is a mentoring session with a millionaire mentor and me where we talk about my relationship to my mother and the connection to money. The starting point for making the film was the fact that women only receive around 10% of the world income and I was asking myself: why that is a fact and also how women can receive much more money in the future. It is one of my visions to see much more women earning much more money and still being a woman without acting like men. I think women have so much to offer themselves and the world. If we look back in the history of women I often see that women have been more representing the private sphere for instance by having a more emotional approach to life and other people. I see it as valuable that the connection between money and love could be established. It would turn the world around when profit is not only for the sake of profit but profit could be led by the heart whilst still being in integrity with oneself. This is not only work for women, but involves men as well.
Where do you see yourself as an artist in the next five years?
I will go for my dreams and aim high. I am starting from scratch and when years go by I would really like to be more established as a part of the art world and art market. My dream is not to be a slave of the art world and art market, but by having the business tools to let the market work for me and at the same time have the freedom to work with the art I love. So in five years’ time I hope to make a good living of my art and continue to be in artistic process where visions, aesthetic and content is more important than being famous.
What has been the most invaluable lesson you’ve learnt being part of Debut?
There are many. First of all people at Debut are very helpful, kind and professional people and that means a lot because I am totally new in the art world. I’m learning a lot from all who have been involved in presenting me in the gallery. I am very grateful for the constructive help they have giving me. I have been in touch most with Samir, the director, and hence being very inspired by him. In a way Samir is a role model for me because he is very professional in many respects. The most invaluable lesson must be that Samir represents both a very human and business minded approach to my art practice and I feel very inspired and aligned with his ideas and visions of how to live in integrity and follow his dreams.
What’s your opinion on the importance of professional development of creative people, both artists and designers?
I find it very important that both new and established artists know how to run a business. Very often people in the art world believe that being an artist is like Van Gogh: being poor and only live for art. I think it is a myth few try to kill. However, each one of us lives like what we believe. All is well. I believe an artist could make both great art and a good living and the only limit is ourselves. I would absolutely support artists and help them developing a professional approach to their art and business.
Who are your favourite artists?
There are many and often I see their artwork and forget the names. In film I love Gasper Noé and Peter Greenaway. A video artist is Pipilotti Rist – it’s so great her name is inspired from the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren’s character Pippilotta Longstocking.
Do you have an interesting fact for us?
I would like to share a little poem I wrote the other day:
Every day I touch a star
I show the star how to feel like a star
Shinning and glittering enlighten from me
On the final day
I take a ride with the star
The star will show me how to feel like a star
Charlotte Esposito produces highly emotive mixed media artworks that reflect her personal interpretation of both the physical and non-physical worlds. Expressing both her own life journey and common major themes that affect all women, Charlotte uses her design based past to create a compelling narrative in her works. In addition to this she also makes material led abstract works that skim across the boundaries of both Art and Design.
To learn more about her work, as well as her upcoming Saturday Debut on 2 February, we asked her some questions:
Charlotte, what can we expect on Saturday?
Saturday is a ‘Meet the Artist’ event so primarily it is a chance for me to meet the people that enjoy my work!
I will be in the Debut gallery from 12-5pm showing a selection of paintings from my major collection ‘Being Female, Being Infertile’ alongside short excerpts from a book that I am writing about the same subject. The event is sponsored by Infertility Network UK who I have recently written an article for (due to be published end April 2013). They have been extremely supportive of both my work and aims as an artist.
I currently have a second material led strand of work which I like to call ‘Canvas Sculpture’ and I will be in the gallery window doing this live, so you can also expect to see me up to my elbows in sculptural paste, cutting in to my canvas with a scalpel blade, sewing open sections and painting various parts with interesting implements.
I have a second sponsor for the event, Artisan du Chocolate. They are very innovative and artistic chocolatiers and I am really pleased to have them on board and providing chocolate nibbles and drinks. I am planning an upcoming body of work based on love and human connection so with Valentines’ day on the horizon this is a well married collaboration. Like Infertility Network UK they are also supporting my ‘Being Female, Being Infertile’ collection.
Finally, as part of the day I will also be asking guests to volunteer their fingerprints for a future piece of Art based around the theme of ‘Identity’.
The themes of infertility and femininity are important themes in your work, do you mind sharing the message you want to get across?
In my personal life I suffered with women’s health issues for many years. I went through some fifteen years dealing with extremely difficult menstruation, pain and infertility which eventually led to tests, treatment, operations and diagnosis. I underwent many rounds of infertility treatments and tests, and following a series of operations to correct the effects of pelvic inflammatory disease I had both of my fallopian tubes removed and was subsequently told that I would never conceive naturally. Against all the odds and via assisted conception techniques I did in fact give birth in 2010 so my story is ultimately a positive one.
It was inevitable that these personal issues would eventually seep in to some of my work. Through my ‘Being Female, Being Infertile’ collection I have been able to express some of the deep emotions associated with treatments of this nature without having to verbalise them. I hope that the works will reach out to others experiencing the same difficulties and give them some comfort. Gender issues are not something in this body of work that I am particularly trying to highlight and what I mean by that is that the works were not specifically intended to be feminist in nature. I hope that the works will appeal as much to a male audience as they would to a female one. I believe it is equally as important for women to represent themselves and their real lives in Art as much as we would expect to see a representation of the real lives of men.
I have other work that is more neutral in terms of the subject matter; my evolving abstract ‘Canvas Sculpture’ collection is material led and allows me to approach the canvas in a completely different way. In the past I have also produced very large scale steam bent sculptures and I enjoy working with and manipulating materials so you can expect to see some of that from me in the not too distant future. I think that my work has a very obvious style but I do not like to limit myself to one form of communication.
What have been the highlights of your artistic career so far?
Leaving my full time teaching post to focus on my Art, joining Debut and the excitement of the first private view night back in September. Being invited to contribute my views for the Guardians online ‘Case for Culture’ and recently writing an article about my Art and infertility journey for Infertility Network UK.
How are you experiencing the Debut Contemporary scheme?
The scheme has really given me the support and inspiration that I wanted to take my career to a higher level. I have made some good friends who also happen to be extremely talented artists and I have been able to really pin down my plans to turn my art in to a viable business. The high level workshops and mentoring provided means that as an artist I feel appropriately guided in my practise within a ‘live’ professional setting. The links from the gallery have opened up avenues for my practise that would not otherwise exist and I have learnt skills that allow me to represent myself in the professional art world. I am excited to see how the year unfolds as my time with the gallery evolves and as my career as an artist expands and develops.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I see myself working from a large studio producing both canvasses and sculptures. I would like to have a solo show over the coming year and to build both my new and existing collections so that in five years’ time my work is shown widely both nationally and internationally. I also hope to find a publisher for the book that I am writing about my infertility journey.
I truly believe in following your passion and this is what I intend to do.
Finally, do you have an interesting fact for us?
Every human being spends about half an hour as a single cell.
On the 19th of January 2013, the artists and team from Debut Contemporary ventured to the Business Design Centre in order to gain a more comprehensive view at both established and emerging artists at this year’s London Art Fair. Pryle Behrman , head curator of the ‘Art Projects’ created in 2008, was gracious enough to give Debut a behind the scenes tour of the fair where 30 galleries, featuring up-coming artists throughout Britain were highlighted. Galleries such as Ceri Hand, Hannah Barry, Hoxton, Limoncello, and Bearspace Gallery were a just few among the many presented within the ‘Art Project’ spectrum. This particular ‘project’ seeks to provide a platform for demonstrating the breadth and depth of the rising contemporary art world today and as the artists from Debut also fall into this category, it seemed only natural for the tour to begin here.
Korean artist, Sangijn Kim and current Goldsmith’s student exhibited with Hamni gallery providing just one of the many eye catching and inspiring pieces which explores the rich seam between language and art. In his mechanical sculpture, In Visibility_the Bible, verses from the Bible are designed to print on the top of the structure which seep ink down into a water-filled tank, where the ink from the printed letters dissolve into the liquid as they appear. Its temporality and momentary quality can resemble the fragility of belief.
Poppy Sebire, another innovative artist worth mentioning, is now represented by one of London’s youngest and most self- established art dealers and gallery owners, Georgie Hopton. Upon entering Poppy’s space, it feels as though you might have accidently walked into a late 1960’s British styled living room. The walls of the area were covered in eggshell coloured paper where repetitive and simple shapes create a calming pattern; synonymous with the blooming energies and colourings of the beginning of a gardening season. Hopton’s style is immensely influenced by her formal training in sculpture combined with her passion for cultivating flowers and vegetables. One of her methods featured in ‘art projects’ demonstrates her use of vegetables as a paintbrush, where she allows the simplicity of her chosen edible plant to guide her through the process.
For some artists and most observers an art fair can be an intimidating environment piled with booths and pavilions provoking the senses and encompassing one’s whole surroundings. However, with the skills and knowledge Debut Contemporary provides, it is hands-on situations like these which allow the opportunity for Debut artists to become more comfortable with speaking to gallery owners and dealers. This helps them to gain even more practical knowledge as to how to make their art practice/hobby more of a success for not only themselves, but for everyone involved. It was refreshing to encounter blooming ideas and new creative ways of thinking from unique pieces like the above mentioned. This ignites a sense of ambition and determination within debut artists for an opportunity to contribute their influential perspectives to these similar contemporary ideals.
Giulia is an Italian artist who recently moved to Cambridge, UK.
Her artistic activity focuses on figurative subjects, particularly portraits and nudes.
The women’s universe is the main theme of her painting season: the relentless passage of time, the laceration of abandonment, the fascinating moment of conception are the subjects on which she reflects. She uses painting to analyse our fears and hopes, and her works do not hide behind intellectual games. The artist believes that her works can show her love for tradition and her respect for the craft, because, in her opinion, modernity should be find through the old rule of art. She is very faithful to the “poetic of realism” with which she carries on her own idea of reality. The recent objective is to reinterpret in her paintings the ancestral myths of Greek culture.
Giulia, can you share some of your inspirations with us regarding your artwork?
I consider myself mostly inspired by emotions that people can experience, in particular those connected to the loneliness, the fear of abandon, and the impossibility to do something against our destiny when it is already planned. I think that in each of my paintings people can see an existential disease, the “spleen” that Baudelaire speaks about in “Le fleur du mal”.
But I’m inspired not only by fears: subjects like the maternity, the perfection of the human body fascinate me.
The characters that I choose are taken from contemporary life (mostly women), and from the Greek myths.
You state that ‘the women’s universe’ is the main theme in your art, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I’ve chosen women as characters of my paintings because I think that an artist would start painting things that he knows well in person. In fact, as a woman myself, I feel confident trying to investigate every shade of women’s living and their feelings related to the different events of their life, both hard and happy. I would define my artistic activity as autobiographical, because in part I’ve been through such moments and on the other hand I’ve took as example the experience of the women that are part of my life.
You work with portraiture as well, have you always been fascinated by this?
Yes, since I was a child I used to do portraits of my friends and family members. I’m really into unconventional expressions and perspectives, and I think that every feeling has a specific framing. In addition, in my opinion there are two elements of a human body that can speak better than words: the marks that the time leave and that you can identify on a face, and the hands.
What made you decide to move to the UK, being from Italy?
I’ve decided to move to UK mainly for love: my partner, who is Italian as I am, found a job in Cambridge around three years ago and I decided to leave my country to be with him. I’ve considered it a big opportunity for me and my career as well and since then I’ve tried to pursue my path.
How are you experiencing the Debut Contemporary scheme?
When I applied in August, I was searching for an organisation to help me understand how the art sector works in the UK and how artists have to get ready for promoting themselves. I think that Debut Contemporary has helped me in that way. In fact with the Debut team and the workshops, I’ve got familiar with social media platforms, art business, sales, copyright, etc. I’m happy because they also address me to art fairs and art competitions that suit with my figurative style. I think that Debut Contemporary is a good help for an emerging artist who wants to invest in his career.
Who are your favourite artists yourself?
I don’t have only one favourite artist. My activity is influenced by at least one artist per century starting with Michelangelo Buonarroti, Caravaggio, Toulouse Lautrec, Egon Schiele, and Lucian Freud.
Do you have an interesting fact for us?
Considering my upcoming goals, I think that the interesting facts are still to come. In fact, I’ll apply to the BP Portrait Award 2013, so stay tuned and fingers crossed!
Tomorrow, Wendy MacMillan sees the opening of her solo show ‘Self-Construct’ at House of Vostrovska on Vyner Street. The show will run until 3 February, and the opening is tomorrow evening from 6.30-9pm.
Make sure to pay her visit, and to learn a bit more about the show in advance, we did an interview with Wendy:
Wendy, what can we expect of Self-Construct?
I will be showing mostly collage based work which is a new medium for me and a departure from my usual sculptural and installation work. I enjoy this approach as it is still constructive and provides an avenue to explore more two-dimensional pieces
Is there a message you aim to get across with the exhibition?
The work is a collective questioning of the concept of self, of identity. How is that formed by one and others? How much control does an individual have on societal constructs and what are the movements of power that are intrinsic to these manipulations?
How did your collaboration with House of Vostrovska start?
I visited the gallery and was drawn to Ivca Vostrovska’s jewellery which is very sculptural and her playing with ideas of beauty in decay, which challenge our aesthetic preconceptions. As a gallerist Ivca is a wonderfully engaging person with similar instincts and drives so we hit it off straight away and decided to put this show on.
Where do you see this collaboration leading to in the future?
We have been discussing doing a collaborative piece, bringing her jewellery and my sculptural practice together in some ways. Also an installation in the gallery is a possibility. We will have time to work through these ideas over the course of the exhibition. There are lots of exciting possibilities to explore.
How did you come across Debut Contemporary?
I was aware of them as I know the artist Carne Griffiths well and he had joined them over a year before and had had a very positive experience.
How are you experiencing the scheme and why is it relevant to you?
I think there are three aspects to the scheme, the workshops provide a huge resource of material and insight into the art world itself which is great because it demystifies the mechanisms and enables you to see where you can position yourself, or not, within that world. Secondly, as part of that understanding you are able to work with Debut Contemporary to plan the future direction you wish to take and thirdly the team are very supportive and encouraging which is essential when you are stretching your comfort zone outside of the studio.
Do you see a change in your career since joining?
I am still trying to put into practice all the information I learned in the workshops but I think I have become more professional in my approach to my practice and that feeds into presentation of the work, using social media better or at least seeing the possibilities in it, and confidence building of course. It has been invaluable taking a step back from my practice but it does come at a cost in studio-time, luckily this time of year tends to be the least productive and more ideas based for me.
As someone who didn’t really make work that could be hung on gallery walls, I had been playing with ways to maintain the sincerity of the work but also make it more accessible. Collage seems to answer that dilemma.
And on a more personal level…
What is your favourite artist?
I don’t believe in favourites in anything, it always becomes a long list. I am currently reading about 70s performance artists in Yugoslavia, Abramovic and Ulay gained the widest recognition but there was other very interesting work going on.
What is your favourite ism?
Movements that are predominately based in concepts such as Constructivism, Arte Povera, Dadaism, Postmodernism, performance and installation art.
Do you have an interesting fact for us?
A million earths could fit inside the sun and if we drove there in a car it would take 150years at 70miles an hour.
Moisey Aleksandrovich Feigin was the world’s oldest recorded artist. He lived till he was 103 and had his last exhibition the year before his death at 102.
Tomorrow’s workshop for the Debut Artists is lead by Keith Graham of Westbury Accountants, about the financial side of running an art business. Keith became a partner at Westbury in May 1982 and managing partner in January 2000. He combines his management responsibilities with servicing a mixed portfolio of clients. Specialties include the property sector, charities, professional services firms and the art world.
He enjoys the challenge of building Westbury as a high quality, leading edge, team.
We decided to ask Keith some questions to get to know him a bit better in the lead-up to the workshop:
Keith, can you tell us a bit more about Westbury?
Westbury is a central-London-based firm of accountants specialising in finding creative financial and tax solutions for small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. In practice, this means that we work very closely with our clients to give them the comfort that their financial affairs are properly managed.
How do you think Westbury and the field in general is of importance to artists?
In recent years, the firm has developed a specialism in looking after artists and art galleries. There are some aspects of finance and tax that are peculiar to artists so it is important to take advice from professionals who understand the sector. And it’s important to take advice because running a business-any business- is complicated.
What do you recommend young and emerging artists to take into consideration regarding accounts and finance?
In our experience, artists – and creative people generally – have a blind-spot when it comes to money and taxes. This can be tricky for a number of reasons:-
- Income from the commercialisation of one’s art can be volatile and therefore it becomes hard to keep track of ones finances, manage one’s living, put money aside etc.
- It is not always clear when what started as a hobby becomes an art business and therefore has tax impications
- Tax is a minefield and therefore it is important for artists to understand record keeping and the timing and amount of their potential liabilities, etc.
What is your opinion on the concept behind Debut Contemporary, mentoring emerging artist in the start-up of their career as a creative business?
We particularly like the way in which Debut Contemporary has recognised that artists often have very little idea how to develop their work into an art business. This ties in squarely with our own approach that they also need help with their finances.
How did you come across Debut Contemporary and why did you decide to collaborate by giving a workshop?
Debut Contemporary actually came across us – they were looking for someone to fill a slot and run a workshop, and saw our art blog. We were delighted to be able to help.
What is the main message that you want to get across in the workshop?
I think that the main message from the workshop is that if you want to be successful running an art business, you need to understand what running a business means, and to understand that keeping a clear and tight control on your finances (which includes allowing for tax liabilities) is part of that process.
And on a more personal level…
What is your favourite artist?
My favourite artist is probably Grayson Perry – I like his originality, his anarchic approach, and the way in which he seems to be able to speak to us on a personal level. Close behind that I would have to put Matisse, here because of the simplicity of his lines.
What is your favourite ism?
I am not sure I have a favourite ‘ism’. If I did it would be probably something like ‘anti-procrastinationism’, in other words ‘do it now’.
Which book do you recommend us to read?
The book I would strongly recommend is ‘The Long Tale’ by Chris Anderson.
Do you have an interesting fact for us?
In 2012 , approximately 9,100 new companies were formed each week in the UK.
Spotlight Artist Liam Shea Mertens was born in Blenheim, New Zealand, and grew up in Auckland. Mertens attended Green Bay High School in Auckland where he was failed for his initial endeavours with paint, later during his time spent at this institution the teacher’s mistake was rectified when he was inducted back into various art classes where he went on to thrive.
Upon his acceptance to the Bachelor of Visual Arts at Auckland University of Technology, NZ, Mertens really put focus on his art, but while doing so left the realm of reality to completely immerse himself in what he can only describe as ‘the marvellous chaos that truly engulfs the world.’
Mertens practice since moving to London has really pushed forward to become unique and identifiably his own, taking influence from Piet Mondrian, John Cage, Blinky Palermo and many others including his contemporaries.
On Saturday 19th January, Liam Mertens hosts a Saturday Debut at Debut Contemporary. We talk a bit more about this, and his artistic practice:
What do you have in store for us on the 19th?
A special ‘Afternoon Tea’ for anyone and everyone to come along to the gallery, have a chat about; art, life and interests, get to know more about me as an artist and how the gallery operates as a creative platform and last but not least share a bite to eat.
Your work looks mostly minimalistic in style, do you relate yourself to this genre within art?
I do find myself intrigued by the minimalist movement, but with so much out there in the art world it is hard to isolate myself to just one particular movement, I like to think my work lacks the cleanliness that I have come to associate with minimalism.
Is there a message you want to get across in your art?
There are a tonnes of messages I try to get across in my works, some I see straight away and some that take me a while to find, but the way art and audience works no one leaves the work with the same thoughts rattling around in their head. What I am trying to say I guess is that everybody reads a different reality, and I believe my work plays with this, being minimal and ambiguous in its physicality there is a lot of room for the viewer to perceive their own reality within the work and from there create conversation around it, thus drawing out many conclusions and questions that I may or may not have seen during my own journey with the work.
Being from New Zealand, what would you say the main differences are between the NZ and UK art scenes?
As I am fresh out of art school and still very new to the London art scene I am not sure I could accurately say, however the main things I notice is size, and how a deeply ingrained class system can have it effects both positive and negative. But as I say I am still learning about both.
What do you get inspired by?
This is a really hard question for me, I suppose the everyday, the view out my window, bus rides, things hanging out peoples windows, homeless people playing tricks on the general public without them knowing, these tend to be my moments of thought and wonder, when things click into place momentarily then any meaning created in my mind can vanish after a parallel train of thought or distraction, the ideas that stick or keep coming back are the ones worth following and believing in.
And on a more personal note…
What are your favourite artists yourself?
Marcel Duchamp, has to be one, Bride Stripped Bare is a stunning piece.
Phillip Guston, I have a book with all his interviews, conversations and writings in, the man was a relentless wall of knowledge.
Blinky Palermo, his career fascinates me, from the aesthetic of his work to his ‘mysterious’ death and all the odd goings on in between.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
At the moment I have too much on my plate to be thinking that far ahead, but I hope to keep up a consistent but not overwhelming presence in the art world where ever I happen to be.
Do you have an interesting fact for us?
Pearls melt in vinegar.