Ad Interim – Art for Arts’ Sake

Pink Mirror by K Brigden

Pink Mirror by K Brigden

Ad Interim is a new initiative for early and mid-career artists in Sussex whose work may not fit the usual commercial model .  The first show, Common Origin, took place in November and brought together artists Kate Brigden and Ellie Parry. Lucy Finchett-Maddock finds out more:

Kate Brigden and Ellie Parry are two young and enthusiastic artists working in painting, sculpture and drawing and have known each other since studying for the Masters together at Chelsea School of Art.  They have felt an affinity to work in collaboration since their university days, hence the title ‘Common Origin’ for their most recent collaborative exhibition.  I first met both the artists at the private view of the show in November last year. I was struck by their authenticity and concern for art as that which is not purely a means of making money.  I decided to catch up with them again and chatted with them about their work in one of Lewes’ many warm and friendly pubs.

Ellie and Kate begin by talking about their collaborative work, although before we start each of them can’t help but notice that they are wearing very similar outfits which apparently happens quite often – the joys of working together and being such close friends is quite clear as they giggle away.  Common Origin is their most recent collaboration, continuing their friendship and connection they had since their postgraduate days.  The central themes of colour, intuition and playfulness were both bridging commonalities in the works of Kate and Ellie, whilst simultaneously highlighting this refreshing and uncommon desire to find a room for art for its own end, and not as a commodity.  When visiting the exhibition and the gallery space, I remember thinking it had a very different character to other art galleries. In fact the space itself had been agreed by the Tourism and Arts department of the local Council and was an empty shop front.  This is the pair’s desire as a team, very much to create spaces in which people are challenged to think, to get people to talk, and less so about selling works directly.  Their wish to use free spaces is bright and inspiring, they mention taking stimulus from the transient art space scene and I immediately think of the more anarchist tinged ‘Temporary Autonomous Art’ movement or TAA as it is better known.  Common Origin was the first of a succession of future events and collaborations under the banner of uncommodified art, Ellie and Kate explain the space was part of their wider newly established collective of new and unestablished artists named ‘Ad Interim’ (www.adinterimprojects.com), creating a series of exciting roaming art projects in Sussex, making use of temporary places in which to exhibit.  They speak about their impetus to take the selling side out of the equation, and hopefully be left with the real thing, the real art itself.  In a sense their ideals are much like street art where artistic talent and the freedom to create is made openly available for all, and with no price tag attached.  Their work is clearly not street art however, it is very much fine art, but the aim matching that of the more vernacular kind with a drive to make art accessible to all.  Kate and Ellie are very passionate about this but they are also quite clear they are not criticising the art scene in terms of its focus on selling, as artists they are very familiar – they need to sell their work in order to make a living.  Kate however does despair somewhat:  “When a child you just draw, when you’re an adult you’re expected to sell!”

It is clear that both wish art to be a conversation, for someone to take something from an exhibition, to have learnt something.   On some level as well their projects take on a political element, Kate relaying the similarities between their Ad Interim idea and protests on loss of the high street using pop up spaces to reclaim space from capital, or ‘pedestrianisation’.

Individually, Kate’s work very much hones in on visual perception, as opposed to that which is seen to be real or as outside of the mind’s eye; almost replicating a memoretic process or déjà vu. Kate’s work has been shown in exhibitions in Sheffield, Nottingham, Brighton and now Lewes.  Kate runs the ‘Brigden & Bayliss’ vintage shop in Lewes, a recent venture that has allowed her artistic flare to direct her more commercial choice of stock for the shop, that being a mixture of vintage clothes, homeware and gifts.  She is also in a band called ‘Tors’ and was previously the art curator at Pelham House.  She explains her artistic practice comes in fits and spurts and can be prolific.  She lives and works in Lewes and studied BA Fine Art at Winchester School of Art and then went on to study MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design.

Ellie’s practice is mainly sculptural using a diverse range of materials and experimental ideas.  She is currently working on a sculpture piece with film, describing darker scenes alongside paintings in monochrome.  She appreciates analogue, and no digital, in fact explains how she does everything to avoid the digital in her work!  Ellie mentioned that her work is influenced very much by where she is, and was interested to see where her work would go once she moves further out of the Brighton area and into the countryside.  Ellie lives and works in Sussex, has exhibited mainly in London and this is her first exhibition, of hopefully many, within the region.  Ellie graduated from Kingston University BA (Hons) Fine Art and studied at Chelsea School of Art and Design where she gained an MA in Fine Art.

Both respond very much to their surroundings and confirm they had both always wanted to be artists, Ellie describing how art is part of who she is and could not see her life without it:  “it’s exciting, you can be anything you want to be in art and painting, creating.”  As they both share their love of art they laugh once again over their similarities and connections and how they must have been in the same Olaf Eliasson exhibition in Iceland, at the very same time, before knowing one another.

The images here are of the Common Origin exhibition back in November 2013.  The central work that filled the floor of the exhibition was that of Ellie’s, focusing on the use of colours, shapes and sounds, including aluminium cast horse shoe designs and what look like plastic moulds hanging in different bright and catchy colours.  You can see a slide show projected onto sculpted desert flora, with spiky grasslands reflecting horizons and pinky hues of dusk emanating from the slides.  Along the wall spaces Kate hung her work, using colour pencil and water colours to create deliberately naïve shapes and forms, almost childlike in their simple but effective quality.  The pieces depicted an aura of pointillism and its ideals, as though the colour etchings and dreamlike buildings are to come together in the motion of the eye of the gallery visitor.

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Their next exhibition as part of the Ad Interim project is coming up in the next few months, based on the theme of collage, fulfilling a desire to work on the coming together of paper and concept, curating the upcoming space with 5-6 other artists from Sussex.  Check the website for further updates, the collaborative and individual concepts and ideas of the two offering exciting realms in which art can be portrayed and displayed with a genuine passion for communal art-for-art’s sake.

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