Born in Islington in 1962
English sculptor, installation artist and photographer
“To a certain extent the audience assumes my feminism – which is not to say it’s not there. I’m aware of this and so is the work, and so is the viewer when confronted with the work. This gives rise to a self-conscious feeling, the moment of realisation – that’s what I’m aiming for.”
Well, yes, a couple of things that I’ve made have come about in a fit of anger. I don’t know… I think it’s more reflected on myself, or at things in general rather than anything specific. Maybe it’s just… trying not to feel powerless, and one thing about feeling powerless is that what you’re up against is so faceless, it’s like banging your head against an invisible wall. That’s what it’s directed towards I suppose - the invisible wall.
Once you make an object then it has its own life. You could think that the person in the self-portraits is who I really am, but I don’t think they’re really like me. They’re less like me than a sculpture. I don’t stand around the whole time with my hand on my chin looking tough and surly. So I don’t think it’s a pose. Well it is a pose but it’s the kind of pose that I can actually make. So in that sense they’re sincere as well. And I use myself in pictures because I’m a good candidate for what I’m after, and also it does seem to add something to it because it’s me.
I don’t make things which are really preciously made. I don’t have the patience to be whittling away at something for ever. I make things how I am, in the way I’d quite naturally do something. Because I’ve been doing it for some time now, I feel as if the way I make things really is at my fingertips. I always admired Jimi Hendrix for that, because I thought he had it at his fingertips, right at his fingertips. He played the guitar like it was part of him, straight out of his heart, not mediated. And that’s how I want to make art.
As a young artist I felt that in making art I could be objective, more objective than I could in life,” she says. “And it’s true that you can have a proper look at something once it has some material reality. But I also equated this with being impersonal, in the sense of not being narrative or autobiographical. Looking at it all now it seems highly personal and more autobiographical than I thought – lots of Freudian slips.”
The pictures of myself weren't very serious initially. I mean I didn't have any expectations. Something about the image of me with the banana, which was the first one, struck me as powerful. Because I wasn't a babe.I hadn't really had an objective look at my effect until then. Being myself was just a necessity. By 'common civility' I presume you to mean convention, which is everything that's visible/how it is. One can be on the edge of it I suppose, but over the edge and you don't exist. Well I think it's worth persevering with perceiving the edges. Certainly how it is is mostly ridiculous.
My idea of an audience is as broad as possible, as broad as the public. I believe the public does like art, and their stance against it is a part of how they like it - they enjoy having a go at it. And I make my work with that in mind. It plays on that - that people are not going to like it, or they’re going to laugh, or they’re going to think it’s a load of bollocks.
That fascination with dicks is a formal one as well. It’s interesting in terms of the current debate about sexuality, the whole intellectual presence and absence thing. A dick is present, and masculinity is defined in terms of being present, being an artist is a macho activity because it deals entirely with what is present.
“To me each work is a character, someone I know. When I know who they are I know they’re finished.”