venerdì 25 luglio 2008

Interview with Rachel Graves

q)What is your name?

a)Rachel Graves

q) Where do you live and work?

a)Nottingham. I have a tiny office/studio in my house which serves most of my creative purposes. I’d like to have a separate studio space at some point in the future, but all in good time…

q)What is your creative process like?

a)It’s quite haphazard. I find it nearly impossible to force ideas, and I always find ideas come to me much more easily when I make time to visit exhibitions, go to the cinema, and generally just forget about my own ideas and explore everything else that’s going on in the art world. I never start work until I have a good vision of what I want to finish up with, even if that’s not what actually happens.

q)What is your favorite medium?

a)I try to be aware of and explore all kinds of media, but I always come back to photography. Whether the final piece I create is solely photographic or a combination of a variety of different approaches most of my work relates to themes and characteristics of the photographic image.

q)What is your current favorite subject?

a)I’m fascinated by memory; the practice of remembering, how we remember, why we remember some things and forget others, and how external influences affect our memories. This is being explored through my series Fragments, but I’m also interested in the subject of memory in a wider sense as well. I also think a lot about the concept of time. I’m often acutely aware of the passing of time and it brings about a state of anxiety in me. I like working with photography because of the way it functions in relation to time; isolating appearances from the relentless moving forward of time, and potentially preserving them much longer than our own lifespans.

q)How long does it take for you to finish a piece?

a)It really depends on what it is that I’m working on.

Generally speaking, once I have an idea I know exactly what it is I want to create, how I want it to look, etc. So usually from that moment on it doesn’t take me too long to start producing things. Menagerie, for example, is a piece that I produced in a matter of weeks, simply because I knew what I wanted to do and had the resources to go ahead and complete it in a short space of time.
More recently I have been working on pieces that are taking me longer to complete for a variety of reasons. Fragments, for example, is taking a long time because of the process involved – producing the final images is quite a labour intensive task, and the process is fairly expensive, which also limits the speed at which I can make the images. I expect that it will take me at least another year to complete, possibly much longer.

q)What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

a)The most recent accomplishment for me was in June this year when I finished my photography degree. I’m now looking forward to continuing to produce work and exhibiting. Aside from those rather general aims I’m equally thrilled about every opportunity I’ve had over the past few years to show my work.
q)Are there any contemporary artists that you love?
a)The main artist I always find myself coming back to for inspiration and reflection is Christian Boltanski. I find his work incredibly beautiful and thought provoking. Also: Idris Khan, Tacita Dean, Barbara Ess, Simon Norfolk, Taryn Simon, Gabriel Orozco, Hiroshi Sugimoto and William Basinski for his Disintegration Loops… There are so many, but those are the ones that spring to mind at the moment.

q)Can we buy your art anywhere?

a)All of my photographs are available in limited editions. I don’t have the specific information on my website but all sales are organized through Unseen, the collective I am part of. If you are interested in finding out more about prices, editions and availability of my work you should contact:

q)Anything that people should know about that we don’t??

a)Two things:
1. I’m a member of Unseen, a group of young contemporary photographers born out of the need to share resources and skills, and the mutual desire to create an environment in which we can continue to develop our individual practice with the support and feedback found within a group structure.

2. One of my favourite events in Nottingham: Annexinema. If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself in Nottingham at the same time as one of these nights make sure you go, it’s an experience not to be missed! The next one is scheduled for the 9th August. Join this group for updates:

q)What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?

a)I can’t stress enough how important it is to work very hard at acquiring the technical skills necessary to realise your ideas. You can have the best idea in the world but if you don’t have enough control over your technique or a good enough understanding of what your gear is capable of then you’re setting yourself up for frustration and failure.

q)What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?

a)When I find myself getting frustrated with my work I either work on something else or stop working completely and do something entirely unrelated. If that doesn’t work I’ll seek out the other Unseen members to discuss ideas and then I usually feel re-inspired to get back to work.

q)How do you describe your work to those who are unfamiliar with it?

a)I struggle, and usually end up pointing them to my website. It’s so varied in terms of content and style that I have trouble finding words to describe it all at once. If anyone would like to help me out with words I’d be very grateful!

q)What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?

a)I studied photography for 5 years. First at college level which developed my technical ability, and then went on to university which surrounded me with the type of environment that nurtured my critical thinking and pushed me to develop my ideas and practice further. But the non-formal training is just as important – years of looking at photography and art books, going to exhibitions and talks – it all works towards developing your own practice.

q)Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?

a)Not really. I have a good amount of cameras and other equipment that I use, but I don’t really feel attached to much of it. If it weren’t there I’d find other ways of making work. Last year the house I was living in got broken into several times and my computer and scanner were stolen. It was a real inconvenience and a pretty horrible experience but aside from the financial cost of replacing it I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to working without it. That said, I wouldn’t want it to happen again!

q)Who are your influences?

a)Every aspect of my life, my family and the people around me. It’s not limited to people; books I’ve read, places I go, things I find – there’s really no limit to what can influence me. I try to look in all directions for potential influences. I know some people who very strictly only take interest in photographic things, only look at work by photographers, only read about photography, but I think it’s very important for me to be open to anything and everything. I’m afraid that if I don’t my work will quickly become narrow and repetitive.

q)What inspires you to create?

a)I have no idea. I can go weeks and months without feeling the inspiration to create something, but when I have an idea it will appear very suddenly and I get a strong urge to go and work on it immediately.

q)…your contacts…

a)You can see my work either at:, or on the Unseen website (where you can also see lots of other work by young contemporary photographers):

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