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UAL Edit interview: Emma Hart

Emma Hart in her studio London

Announced this week as the winner of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, artist Emma Hart lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include: big MOUTH, Grand Union, Birmingham (2015); Sticky, Austrian Cultural Forum, London (2015); Spread, Art Exchange (2015); Giving It All That, Folkestone Triennial (2014); Dirty Looks, Camden Arts Centre (2013). In 2015 she was awarded a Paul Hamlyn Foundation award for Visual Art. Emma is a lecturer on BA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, UAL.

Emma Hart sculptures

What first inspired you to become an artist?

It really was the other way round, in that I was working in an office as a shipping clerk – I didn’t follow a conventional route into art, I didn’t do Art A-level or a foundation course – and it was more that I was using art to get away from what I was doing as opposed to moving towards something that I really loved. I felt terribly misunderstood in the shipping industry and in the office administration industry. I also worked at a call centre for a long time and it just was very frustrating and disappointing. I had a desire to make things, but it was more that I had ideas going round my head, “what if this could happen?” and I couldn’t express them. Because I hadn’t done any art training I felt very restricted, I didn’t feel I could paint or draw or sculpt. When I was about 21, 22, when it came to really thinking about ‘what am I going to do next?’ art was still too far away from me, I couldn’t quite imagine it,  but what I could imagine was taking photographs, so I went and bought disposable cameras from Boots – digital cameras hadn’t actually been invented – and in my spare time just started to take photographs on them and cobbled together a portfolio and got into a photography course at my local college.

Emma Hart installation

What are you working on at the moment?
It’s been a really busy time the last two years undertaking two major exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre and then the Folkestone Triennial so right now I’m just pausing for thought and enjoying relishing having won the Paul Hamlyn award. But in this year I start on another major commission with Jonathan Baldock and we have a major commission with the De La Warr Pavilion, Peer Gallery and then the Grundy Gallery in Blackpool – we’ve never collaborated before and  we’re going to collaborate for the first time and produce a kind of modern weird take on Punch and Judy. It opens in August at the De La Warr and it’s a really large show. We’ve got some huge sculptures planned.

Emma Hart close up

Tell us about your work

I’m fairly new to ceramics and my approach is to combine ceramics with photography and video. The Folkestone Triennial was only my second major public project with ceramics, so I’m not an expert. I taught myself everything from YouTube! A bit like when I first got on the course to do photography, I taught myself then. I even bought a kiln. Folkestone was a unique opportunity because rather than the work being situated in a gallery it was in an abandoned flat, so that’s a more provocative location than a neutral gallery. It had been lived in and then abandoned, I think due to financial difficulties, so it was really smelly – it was very atmospheric. A lot of my work dwells on the boundaries or thresholds between public and private so I often think about spillages or sweat – a moment of excess when something bursts through our public veneer, how anxiety forces our inner feelings outwards. A domestic property is a good places to dwell on personal doubts or anxieties and how we perform being who we are.

I installed work all over the flat, there was video, which created a crying soundtrack to the whole experience, and I made these metal figures which were holding laptops displaying weird powerpoints about how you might present yourself, and then the rooms were filled with ceramics which set up situations for the viewer to enter in to. Something I’m exploring is how ceramics can go beyond being a vessel and create a situation or scene, so in one room long extended arms offered viewers drinks, so the viewer is drawn in, in a room upstairs the viewer is peered at over the edge of ceramic clipboards and therefore being monitored which hopefully manufactured another set of feelings within the viewer.

Red kites photographed by Mrs Airwolfhound

What are you most passionate about?

The thing for me is that I had a child two years ago and now I’m much more passionate about family life. I am still really passionate about birds, I was a keen birdwatcher, but I’m more likely to see a black bird than a red kite these days.

Which piece of creative work in any discipline do you most love?

I just have been to see the Enrico David show at Hepworth Wakefield and it took my breath away. It is the best show I have ever seen in a long time and I think about it constantly. The work is a heady mix of provocation, beauty, terror, and lust.

Where is your favourite London haunt?
Things have changed, it used to be the Wenlock Arms near Old Street but now it’s the city farm in Surrey Quays.

What is your guilty pleasure?
It’s QVC, the shopping channel.

Name a favourite book, song and film

Virginia Woolf To The Lighthouse
Virgina Woolf,  To The Lighthouse

Alison Limerick cover
I’m a bit of an old clubber and my favourite track is Where Love Lives by Alison Limerick 

Uncle Buck poster detail
I hardly ever watch films, but the one I’ve seen the most is Uncle Buck.

What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?
The hardest thing to do, is to do what you want to do,  rather than what you think you should be doing and it’s hard because it’s hard to work out what you really want to do and then it’s hard because you have to have courage to do what you want. My advice is caught up in that really – do what you want to do.

Read more on Emma Hart’s website

Find out more about the Max Mara Art Prize for Women on the Whitechapel Gallery website

Revisiting “the wickedest road in Britain”

Janet Mendelsohn The street c.1968. Black and white photographic print Courtesy Cadbury Research Library Special Collections University of Birmingham

Photography and the Archive Research Centre
 director Professor Val Williams has researched the 1960s photographs of US documentary photography Janet Mendelsohn, for a catalogue essay, published by the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham to accompany the exhibition Janet Mendelsohn’s Varna Road, which opens this week.

The Guardian reports that Varna Road was known as called the wickedest road in Britain “yet in Janet Mendelsohn’s haunting black and white photographs, by turns playful and melancholy, we see the hidden side of the street that became the focus of 1960s moral panic.”

Janet Mendelsohn Kathleen hanging out c.1968 Black white photographic print Courtesy Cadbury Research Library Special Collections University of Birmingham

Here, Professor Val Williams shares her insights into the work:

Mendelsohn was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University   from 1967 to 1969. Having studied Social Relations at Harvard’s all-women Radcliffe College, Mendelsohn became interested in documentary photography; in Birmingham she decided to study social conditions in the inner city, and began to work in and around Varna Road in Balsall Heath.

Originally a sedate and elegant nineteenth century middle- class suburb, by the 1960s, Balsall Heath had become known as Birmingham’s major red light district and as a centre for migration from South Asia. The once-elegant houses fell into decay, and were subdivided into rooming houses and shabby flats. Corner shops, pubs and cafés formed the social hubs of the community, and life on the streets was hectic and crowded. The combination of vitality and cheapness meant that, for a time, Balsall Heath became a draw both for Birmingham’s artistic bohemia and for students, as well as a centre for prostitution. Balsall Heath was a highly visible example of British post-war society in transition, with a complex mix of groups, new populations engaging with the more traditional. Balsall Heath was about to  undergo a relentless process of slum clearance and Varna Road, along with many other streets in the area, would cease to exist.

Janet Mendelsohn, Kathleen and her newborn son L c.1968 Black and white photographic print Courtesy Cadbury Research Library Special Collections University of Birmingham

Mendelsohn’s Varna Road photographs focussed on the life of ‘Kathleen’ – sex worker, mother and Balsall Heath resident. These remarkable photographs, are intimate and collaborative, as Mendelsohn observed  ‘Kathleen’ in her day-to-day life. At the heart of the project are Mendelsohn’s photographs of Kathleen and her family at home.  Though Kathleen’s life was a challenging one, and her circumstances extremely straitened, Mendelsohn’s photographs of her are rich and poetic. Intimate, collaborative. Shot in available light, the gloomy, dishevelled interiors of Kathleen’s rooms assume a kind of grandeur, as with Kathleen as a gaunt but sublime Madonna.  These are photographs full of warmth and compassion, photographs made by a woman about another woman’s life. No two people could have been further apart than the high achieving Radcliffe student and the impoverished Birmingham prostitute, but there is real connection here.

Outside, on the street, in the café, outside the pub, the photography changes and becomes much more of an observation of life in Balsall Heath as reflected through Kathleen and her circle. Mendelsohn accompanies Kathleen as she chats with friends on street corners, pushes her pram, and visits the launderette; she even photographed the broken down bed where Kathleen took her clients. She observes Kathleen with her children in photographs of great poignancy. This is a many-layered study, where empathy meets sheer inquisitiveness on a massive scale.

Janet Mendelsohn’s Varna Road runs at Ikon Gallery, 1, Oozells Square, Brindley Place, Birmingham B12HS until 3 April.

The UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) was designated by University of the Arts London in 2003 and is based at London College of Communication.

Read more about Janet Mendelsohn Varna Road at Ikon Gallery

Read more about the Photography and the Archive Research Centre

Read more about Professor Val Williams

What do all these Oscar nominees have in common…? UAL

Now that the official nominations to this year’s Oscar race are out – we tally up the talent that count UAL as their alma mater.

TOM HARDY: Drama Centre London & UAL Honorary Fellow

REVISED TOM HARDY

UAL’s own Honorary Fellow, who also attended UAL’s Drama Centre London, Tom Hardy, is up for Best Supporting Actor in his race to nab his very first Oscar for his work in acclaimed front-runner, The Revenant. But it doesn’t just stop there. Hardy also appears in Mad Max: Fury Road – with both films up for an combined eye-watering 22 Academy Awards.

Hardy was studying at Drama Centre London, Central Saint Martins when he was offered his breakout role in HBO’s award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers. Award-winning performances followed in Bronson, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, amongst a string of stellar performances in both film, on screen and stage.

He inspired UAL graduates with his moving speech: “It’s okay to fail. You learn so much more from failure – it’s not embarrassing.”

Watch it here: http://bit.ly/1OV6cRM

MICHAEL FASSBENDER: BA (Hons) Acting, Drama Centre London, UAL

Revised Michael Fassbender

Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com

All eyes are on Michael Fassbender, who is up for Best Actor, having channelled the visionary title character in the biopic, Steve Jobs. It may have been the same clarity of vision that overcame Fassbender, who decided at 17 to be an actor, moving to London to study at UAL’s Drama Centre London.

He has since forged a remarkable career, dotted with critically acclaimed independent films and box office hits, from 300, Inglourious Basterds, as well as starring in his award winning role in fellow UAL (Chelsea College of Arts) alumnus and Turner Prize winner, Steve McQueen’s film, Hunger.

With one Oscar nomination under his belt, thanks to his searing performance in 2014’s 12 Years A Slave – 2016 could be Fassbender’s year.

EVE STEWART: Theatre Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL

Cornerhouse Manchester; Paul Greenwood

Behind every great film, is a great designer. And in most cases, that designer is the great, Eve Stewart, having trained in theatre design at UAL’s Central Saint Martins. From Topsy-Turvy, Elizabeth I, The King’s Speech and Les Misérables, Stewart has collected a string of awards – carving out her reputation as the designer who can bring any great film to life.

With three Oscar nominations to her name already, this year she is up this year for Best Production Design for The Danish Girl.

SANDY POWELL: Theatre Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL

Sandy P

magicinfoto/ Shutterstock.com

Multiple award-winner, Sandy Powell OBE, will seemingly never have to practice her gracious-‘loser’-Oscar face, having scored two Oscar nominations nods this year for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work in both the dramatically different, Carol and Cinderella.

A veteran in the awards race, Powell has had practice jugging double Oscar nominations, having been nominated in 1998 for both Velvet Goldmine and Shakespeare In Love (winning the latter).

Powell trained at UAL’s Central Saint Martins, before crafting a stellar career that has included Academy Award wins for The Aviator and The Young Victoria, as well as having racked up an astonishing 10 Academy Award nominations in total.

JENNY BEAVAN: Theatre Design, Central Saint Martins & former Visiting Professor, UAL

Oscars Wiki

A graduate in Theatre Design at UAL’s Central Saint Martins, Jenny Beavan is also a former visiting UAL Professor, sharing her design talents with students, that led her to win the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for 1985’s, A Room With A View.

Beavan has racked up another nine Oscar nominations in total, making her one of the most in-demand designers in the biz. This year she is up for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work in Mad Max: Fury Road.

JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER: Marshall Scholar, PhD in Fine Art at Central St Martins, UAL

JOSHUA

Fernando Eimbcke, Olga Kurylenko, Joshua Oppenheimer (right) magicinfoto / Shutterstock.com

With a BA from Harvard University and a PhD from Central Saint Martins, UAL to his name, film director, Joshua Oppenheimer has astounded audiences with this documentary film-making.

In a follow up to his 2012 globally award-winning debut feature film, about the individuals who participated in the Indonesian killings of 1965-66, The Act of Killing, Oppenheimer has directed its companion film: The Look of Silence that has been nominated for this year’s Best Documentary.

Winning over 50 international film awards, Oppenheimer delivered a screening for US Congress members, calling on the US to acknowledge its role in the killings. He very well may do the same at this year’s Academy Awards.

Winners will be announced at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony which takes place on 28 February.

 

UAL: 10 unforgettable moments

Winning the Turner Prize

Assemble-Group-Photo-Assemble1

Part architects, part designers. Whichever way you look at them, Assemble – made up of UAL lecturer Maria Lisogorskaya, and visiting tutors Mat Leung and Louis Schulz who teach at Central Saint Martins – reinvented urban ‘regeneration’ and in doing so, scooped this year’s Turner Prize. While some declared it the death of the Turner, you can’t help but be impressed: not only are they the first collective to win – but with an age range of 26 to 29,  they’re also the youngest.
http://bit.ly/1OS1pRX

Officially the world’s best

CSM

Photograph: Artur Kula/Demotix/Corbis

Don’t just take our word for it. Industry bible, the Business of Fashion, named UAL’s Central Saint Martins the best fashion school in the world. UAL’s London College of Fashion also made the top 10 list, coming in at number eight as the best in the world. Enough said. http://bit.ly/1V9dPrA

UAL invests in the future of its Colleges

UAL Top 10

This year UAL announced a new cutting-edge campus for London College of Communication which will be at the heart of the regeneration of Elephant & Castle. This is just one of UAL’s exciting building developments, with work underway on the £62million regeneration of Camberwell College of Arts  and architects already announced for London College of Fashion’s new campus at the Olympic Park.

UAL’s Grayson Perry on Channel 4

Grayson Perry

Turner Prize winner and acclaimed artist, Grayson Perry told Channel 4 that his mission as the newly crowned UAL Chancellor is to act as “an ambassador for creative education”. Watch Grayson talk art and explore UAL’s Summer Shows: http://bit.ly/1i5Hcws

From LCC to Jay Z

USE THIS JAY Z

It was the perfect fit. Take students from the London College of Communication and have them embark on a cultural exchange programme with scholars from superstar, Jay Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation. Next, send them to New York to work with entertainment giant, Roc Nation to develop the marketing campaign for the Made in America Festival. A dream assignment.
http://bit.ly/1m62Q6l

International Art Competition

Imperfect-Roles-Xiaoxi-Kang

Winning piece ‘Imperfect Roles’ by Xiaoxi Kang

Not only did Camberwell College of the Arts MA Illustration student Xiaoxi Kang beat artists from 43 countries to be crowned winner of the International Art Competition, “Show Your World” – she will have her work exhibited in New York City at the Gallery MC, 15 -17 January 2016.
http://bit.ly/1Yy8KZF

New Blood

D&d AWARDS

A predictor to tomorrow’s creative superstars’, the D&AD New Blood Awards, celebrating outstanding work in the design and advertising industry are one of the most prestigious internationally recognised industry accolades that any under 24-year-old can hope to achieve. Invited to respond to industry standard briefs set by global brands, such as Dazed, Adobe, Toms and The Telegraph  – Chelsea College of Arts BA Graphic Design Communication students boasted 11 winners.
http://bit.ly/1Pk3kB2

Taking centre stage in Beijing

A scene from 7734 by Jasmin Vardimon @ Laban World premiere @ Brighton Dome 23-09-10 (Opening 23-09-10) ©Tristram Kenton 07/10 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

by Abigail Hammond, photography Tristam Kenton

Cementing its place as one of the UK’s leading specialist theatre institutions, Wimbledon College of Arts curated the largest ever exhibition of European Theatre Design in China, featuring work from the Lion King by Wimbledon alumnus Richard Hudson, Cheek By Jowl by Nick Ormerod and Declan Donnelan, Ping by LCF alumna Daphne Karstens, alongside designs by Thomas Rupert and Dimitry Krymov. Endlessly breaking boundaries in design for theatre and film, Wimbledon’s roster of star alumni includes Oscar, BAFTA and Emmy award winners such as Sarah Greenwood, Anthony Ward, James Acheson, Charles Knode, Christopher Oram and Mark Tildesley.
http://bit.ly/1V15yFF

Gateway to a greener future

Dress_for_our_time_model-1

As delegates descended onto St Pancras International train station, en route to Paris for the United Nations Climate Change conference COP 21 – they came face to face with the world’s first ever physical embodiment of Dress for Our Time – a digital couture dress dedicated to showing the human impact of climate change on our physical world. Curated by London College of Fashion’s Professor, Helen Storey MBE RDI, the Dress for Our Time digital couture installation helped change the way we think and act upon climate change.
http://bit.ly/1GOHnYH

Back to the Futuro

Futuro House, The Terrace, Central Saint Martins, King's Cross

Futuro House, The Terrace, Central Saint Martins, King’s Cross

A flying saucer or a Sixties love shack? Either way – the Futuro House, originally designed as a Finnish ski lodge by artist Craig Barnes, landed on The Roof Terrace at Central Saint Martins in Autumn 2015. At 13ft tall and 26ft wide, the elliptical fibreglass structure can hold 20 people and is only one of 60 left in existence. When it’s not being ogled by members of the public once a month, it’s used by UAL to  host performances, screenings, talks and other happenings. Here, artists, designers and thinkers are set to change the course of our world.
http://bit.ly/1OkI2Eg

2015 in posts: the ones you liked the most

You got talking about…

bloody-brilliant-the-artist-turning-period-stains-into-statement-jewelry-1448038107

UAL grad, Lili Murphy-Johnson shows us why we should celebrate female menstruation. Here she shares how she’s using it as her artistic inspiration. http://bit.ly/1TeG3Qo

You were divided on…

Kanye

So Kanye West came to visit Central Saint Martins today! Just a normal Tuesday at UAL. Fab walk-&-talk photo by Sam Dunne.

You were inspired by….

USE THIS CRAYONS

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

You took celeb selfies with…

You got political…

posters

Are You Happy? By Emily J Toomer, graphic design, Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London.

The Guardian challenged art students capture the real Britain in the run-up to the 2015 general election. It then shared the best entries – with many coming from UAL. http://bit.ly/1bdblGr

You championed…

fossil fuels

We play a leading role in environmentally sustainable fashion, arts and design. Now, mindful of the impact of climate change, we are proud to announce our commitment to ‪#‎divest from fossil fuels. http://bit.ly/1Mpovw7

You shared advice from…

tom hardy

Tom Hardy’s advice to our students: “It’s okay to fail. You learn so much more from failure – it’s not embarrassing.”
WATCH IT: http://bit.ly/1OV6cRM

You celebrated….

Graduation

Here’s a small selection of our photos from graduation week 2015. Tag yourself if you’re featured!

You were glad to be included with this bunch…

Honourees-slider

UAL to present honorary awards to leading creative figures including Tom Hardy, Gillian Wearing, Ralph Fiennes and Phoebe Philo at graduation ceremonies this year. http://bit.ly/1OloAaw

You pondered life’s next move and watched…

Going to UAL uni

Looking into university options for next year? Watch our new film to learn more about UAL, our 6 Colleges and see some of the exciting work produced by our students.
WATCH IT: bit.ly/ualfilm