Alicja, Tracy & Chris: Interview extract

Alicja:  I was attracted by making work for a specific family because as an artist you mostly make work for an imagined audience. You almost project an idea of who will look at the work, yet you don’t really get to meet the audience, you don’t get much feedback, and you don’t get to shape the work in response to it. I’ve been trying to escape this idea of a universal art and its public by creating works or projects that have very specific audiences in mind. Normally commissions like these are for an art gallery or institution. Even if they happen outside of that context they are not really for the people you make the artwork with. This project is different and I like its generosity. It’s exciting but also scary.

Chris: It was scary for us too. I would never have thought that anyone would ever want to entertain to do something like this for us. We chose you but you could have walked in and gone “I can’t work with this family”. But things just seemed to gell. Before you knew it we were sitting here talking about art, life and this that and the other. It was like talking to someone we’d known for a long time. It felt really comfortable. But if we’d seen you in an art gallery we wouldn’t have approached you. We would have assumed that you wouldn’t want to talk to people like us. At the end of the day though you’re a person like everyone else. We’re all the same. It’s just that somewhere along the line someone’s given us labels. And if you get beyond labels you find friends, as we’ve found here.

Alicja: I come from a family of non artists (people that are not professionally doing art) and I think most of artists do. It’s not such a long time ago that I didn’t have much experience of art. So as an artist you’re not that different. You develop a different way of thinking and doing, a language of a sorts, but that doesn’t make you an alien. But there are these stereotypes and they happen in every profession. Actually I don’t think the barrier was that strong in our case, it was more the not knowing….

Tracy: You brought loads of books round and we sat and went through the books and talked about things we liked and didn’t like, and why we didn’t like them. And then we played with words that we wanted the work to be ….. colours….. materials….

Alicja: And what you wanted the artwork to do. What you wanted it to make you feel and think about. So both abstract aspects and formal aspects. I spent a long time looking at the words and my notes from our meetings and thinking about how these could combine into one piece.

Alicja: We also discussed an idea of spreading some gossip or of me taking care of the kids and you going away for a weekend, as a performance.

Chris: We were going to book ourselves into a fully exclusive hotel in London and live it up for the weekend while you looked after the kids, on your budget! 

Chris: .Originally we said we wanted a work about us two but we didn’t want it about us two. Basically we didn’t want a picture of us put on the wall. And that’s what you’ve done. You’ve got us but not us. Good on you. 

Tracy: When you showed us the work we thought “Oh yes. Nice coloured lines”. We didn’t have a clue first of all. But then when you said it was our wedding photo we looked closer and now I can see us in it. It quite blew us away.

Chris: With the sculpture we wanted something that would last. Something that we could leave to the children.

Alicja: It was really the most frightening thing when you said you wanted the piece to outlive you. I’d never really considered that. A lot of my work is made out of poundland materials, or its video, or performance or something situational. Sometimes I make objects but I never think about them in that sense. And suddenly I’ve had to think about longevity. You were saying we’re only here for a split second, we were talking about meteorites passing through and there was this idea of stone, and these profound conversations about mortality and the end of time. Going on the train and looking at the landscape and seeing it go past made me think about blurriness, and how memory works, and I started playing with your wedding photo. The little hints you gave me started to grow…. When I made this image I realised it reminded me of layers of earth, and then I remembered I’d seen a stone that looked just like that, and I thought why not have the two together to represent human time and geological time. So my fear of creating something lasting became part of the actual content of the work.

Alicja: The artwork for me is the print and the stone and the fact that they’re floating and lit somehow. I wanted you to be able to decide the display. You were talking about re-decorating and painting the walls, and creating bespoke lighting, so that made me think I should make something that could be put up but that could be customised. 

Chris: I like that. I don’t like things being forced on me and you’ve given us flexibility. We don’t know what that wall will look like yet. I like metal and stuff like that and my daughters doing welding, so she might make a different frame.

Alicja: That would be my material of preference….So we agree!

 

Tracy: We went to galleries when we were at school. But here there isn’t anything really. We went to Margate when the Turner gallery opened up.

Chris: To be honest I couldn’t get anything out of it. I don’t think we understood the work inside it. There were three or four pictures in this massive building and we just walked out and went “what was that?”. That downed our expectations of what art was like.

Tracy: Before this we thought art was just paintings on a wall. When we read about the project in the paper we thought someone would come along and paint a picture of the house. But now we’ve met you we know that that there are so many different options.

Chris: And art is everywhere. And thats another thing. You look at things in a different light all of a sudden. 

Chris: I’d like to say I’m going to go and do art but I’m not artistic in that sense. But I’d like to see a lot more and be a lot more involved along the line. Now when we’re in an area where there’s an art gallery, we’ll take the time to wander in. We can look at things better now because we know more about the process and we’ll be able to approach people in there. 

Tracy: Also we won’t just go to B&Q now and pick the first painting we see that everyone’s got. We’ll look further afield.

Chris: We’ll look beyond what we’re programmed into buying, doing and thinking. We watch all the DIY programmes that say paint this wall green and that one that because that’s the way it supposedly is, but it isn’t like that. We can do things differently.

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