7 February 2014
The Hospital for Dazed Art
The Hospital for Dazed Art met with the artists individually. Excerpts from these conversations are collated into the following groupings: Collections & Hoardings, Clearouts, Decades & Journals and Private & Public Dialogue.
As the bedside manner of The Hospital was informal, we have used the artists’ first names. THFDA collectively refers to questions and responses from Iain Sturrock & Delia Baillie.
Collections & Hoardings
Ellie: I’ve got a close-up painting of a kebab. It’s massive; it’s off the stretcher and rolled up and under one of the beds in my parents’ house. I did that in my foundation – god knows what I’m going to do with it.
THFDA: I think I discarded a lot of college work when I had to have a clear-out. Although I couldn’t throw out the really bad drawings from secondary school that I did of birds to design a stained glass window panel. I just couldn’t do it. I suppose that’s just sentimental isn’t it. So it’s like a song or the smell of cream of tomato soup – a Proustian thing – it’s not the art, it’s what it represents.
Ellie: And I guess because you didn’t have the skills that you have now, or that you acquired later, it’s almost like a different person. You don’t look at it with the same critical eye.
Ellie: When I was a child I used to collect… everything. I had pencil collections, postcard collections, a collection of Beanos and Dandys – the little ones. I used to have collections of mugs, rubbers… I just had all of these collections and then at some point I think I decided what have I got all of this crap for? And just got rid of it all. But then I realised that you could collect information digitally.
THFDA: So that’s what you are collecting now, it just doesn’t take up any space.
Ellie: Another project that I’ve been meaning to do all year is to go through flyers and private view cards and press releases and press cuttings – the archive of stuff that I’ve got in my flat. I just started piling it in the corner of a room with the intention of sorting it out soon, but it’s just getting bigger. It started in quite an ordered little box but since I’ve had it in my head that I am going to sort it out I’ve just been piling it on, but that’s been a year and a half now. I’m going to do it really thoroughly and I just need to know how many copies, of say a program from an exhibition, that I should keep in the archive. I’m going to do an inventory for the archive as well. I’ve got an open source archiving program that allows you to catalogue everything… so it’s going to be really super anal. I’ll be able to type in a year, say 2005, and I’ll have a list of every single bit of ephemera that I have. I think it’s important to look after all that hard-copy ephemera because it’s not going to exist for that much longer.
THFDA: How long do you want to hold onto the chairs piece?
Ellie: The massage chairs? I guess I feel a bit sad that they’re not going to be shown again and that’s why I’m holding on to them because people enjoyed it.
THFDA: Could there be another opportunity to show them? Where did you exhibit it the first time?
Ellie: I showed it in Brentford in London, then at the Edinburgh Art Festival and subsequently in Newcastle – so I’ve shown it three times. So those chairs have been around the block and now they’re back in my studio. But they’ve now been stacked up in my studio for the whole of 2013.
Ellie: This year when I was sorting through my studio I was also sorting out at home; I just had this fantasy of being able to take account of every single object. I don’t mean an inventory but just to make sure that you valued everything that you had and were aware of everything that you had; at home and in the studio, so that it wasn’t a massive excess… but I haven’t quite got there yet. That’s the dream!
Ellie: I would like to gather together all of the artworks that are at my parents’ house. Everything. And go through it all and just pick key things that I’d like to keep and get rid of everything else. Because I think you appreciate things more if you have less. If you have less left – just a few choice items. There’s a portrait, it’s my first…