In Conversation with Andrea V Wright
Andrea V Wright speaks to Alexander Stavrou about her art practice. She discusses what goes into her sculptures and installations featured in Substance Bundle as well as a little bit about her time working in fashion.
Clothe Laminae (2020)
Galvinised steel, latex & rubber
Q. I find that especially in the case of Clothe Laminae (2020), the dialogue between the contrasting properties of both the latex and steel frame are exposed and played with. Would you be able to tell us more about where this comes from?
Andrea V Wright: The steel frame acts as a support for the latex fabrics in this work. The frame was sourced online and is a ready made flatpack assembled structure often used in retail to display, hang and order clothing. Its proportion works within the realm and reach of the body. The frame appealed to me beyond its practicalities and I liked the idea of changing (even defying) its intended use. The steel frame represents a vertical stage onto which the fabrics are wrapped, pinned and draped. It presents a veiled architecture that reflects the body’s structure and stance, with the hard frame of steel contrasting against the soft supple powdered latex rubber. We drape our own bodies in an attempt to disguise what lies within. Key to many of my works is the relationship between the human form and the physical/emotional spaces which we inhabit.
Q. Your sculptures appear to have a varying physical relationships with the laws of gravity and material tension; for example some elements of latex are lavishly draped and and others pulled taught. What are you considering when working with the materials in this way?
AVW: My intention is to create volume and depth whilst exposing and acknowledging the inherent flatness in the production of the materials. The fabric interacts with the lit gallery environment in the interplay with surface light and shade, weight, density and taut sheer weightlessness. Revealing painterly qualities through assembly allows for movement in the dimensions of the folds to reveal the inner and outer self.
Q. Other dichotomies appear in your works such as the hand made and the machine made variants of latex in Clothe Laminae, what are your thoughts on the role of the hand of the artist in relation to your practice?
AVW: The contrasts and contradictions in my work are very much rooted in my own character. Controlled and uncontrolled elements are evidenced through the choices in the component parts of the work, as well as in its execution. Including the handmade in the piece brings a human, soulful quality to it. The labour and process involved in making the latex, through the ritual of casting a surface (weathered industrial steel containers in this case), lends another kind of reading. It disrupts the ‘clean’ lines and slick surfaces of the machine made rubber with this ‘other’, decaying, accreted, slightly grubby element. It offers up contrasting haptic/tactile modifications. It’s messing with the aesthetic appearance, almost ruining it, and I like that.
Q. The forms of Nervure Blanche (2019) and Nervure Noir (2019) appear both anatomical and corporal, how do you think this may have been informed by previous experiences in the fashion industry?
AVW: Yes Indeed! When I worked in fashion after graduating from Chelsea it was the mid 1990’s and around the time of ‘architectural fashion’ with McQueen, Westwood, Chalayan leading the way. As an assistant stylist I was very much exposed to these garments that were re-emphasising and re-constructing the body. Styling was about mixing it up, re-phrasing street culture and accessorising. I worked at London Fashion week and made a range of sculpted shoulder pads for the designer Owen Gaster. I then went on to work with my sisters’ company ‘The Wrights’ in New York. They were using a lot of laser cut Italian leather in their womenswear collection. It was all about layering contrasting materials. I was recently on the PLOP Residency and I thought it was a good opportunity to learn how to use laser cutting technology. I really wanted to draw upon my experience in fashion on that residency. I arrived with a stash of materials and hardware that I had stored in the back of my studio: studs, cable ties, leather etc. London was in a heatwave during that July. Whilst I grew up in London I’ve been living in Somerset for the last few years and so it was pretty intense. The fraught and edgy energy. Travelling on the tube with all those sticky bodies. I felt the need for some protection or self defence. Nervure was born out of that experience. I wanted to create a sculpture based on a wearable object. I see Nervure as an inverted ribcage, an architectural exoskeleton that may look aggressive but is actually a form of protection, shielding the soft inner of the torso.
Nervure Blanche, Nervure Noire (2019)
Q. In the past you’ve expressed an interest in the unseen side of something that is portrayed; for example the bunched parts of a dress which are pinned into position and out of camera shot during a fashion photo shoot. Has this concern for the unseen side of an object found its way into your sculptures? If so how?
AVW: Yes it has, and we spoke about that during the installation of the show. It was something I was interested in exploring during the assembly of ‘Clothe Laminae’. The hidden “mess’ and illusion produced during a fashion shoot has long interested me. The tweaking that goes on behind that which is ‘seen’ in a static image. Again it comes down to my interest in the clean ‘facade’ and the messy, unruly ‘other’.
Interviewed by Alexander Stavrou