Aspex Gallery, The Vulcan, PO1 3BF
Monday 01 October 2018 – Thursday 31 October 2019
Image: Phil Root, Small Desert (2017), oil on hessian, 25cm x 20cm, on Hayfever (2017), pigment on wall, 2m x 6m. Photo courtesy Kris Day.
Our Artist of the Month feature aims to promote artists' work and raise issues in a quick, informal way. December's Artist of the Month is Phil Root.
Hello, what do you do?
I make painting, drawing and ceramic sculpture often displayed in arrangements or installations. The works usually include natural motifs and elements, landscapes and symbolism. I'm interested in romantic and idealistic notions of society, especially modes of living before the industrial revolution and how that has been mirrored in the ideas generated by the psychedelic and counter-cultural movements of the twentieth century.
Where are you based?
I'm based in Bristol and have been here for a year now.
Where do you work?
In a studio in Stokes Croft, which I work in around 4-5 days a week. I usually do a bit of admin or research first thing in the morning and prepare things like clay. Then will start painting in the afternoon or evening. But most consistently I do a lot of quick drawings with chalk pastel which help me think through ideas visually. I also have an acoustic guitar hung up which I play quite a bit – I can't tell if it's productive or procrastination.
What’s the best thing about the area you live/work in?
What I like most about Stokes Croft is it is great for people watching and in good proximity to great places like Cafe Kino.
What does 'success' mean to you?
Developing a voice and being able to communicate with it.
Do you earn a living from making art? If not, or only partially, what else do you do?
I make a part-time living from my art at the moment which I am very grateful for and prop up the rest of my income by working a couple of days a week in a pub, which is good fun.
What makes a good artwork?
Something that contains a pure energy and has a sense of how we look and perceive the world. Its materials, medium or 'skill' level is irrelevant.
What have you been up to recently?
I've been asked to work on a couple of artists editions: I made a wearable work for online homewares store Labrador and a series of skateboard decks for Isle. Both projects have been immensely fun and given me new and surprising avenues to explore. The Labrador edition was launched at Manchester Contemporary this year and the Isle Skateboards are currently in production. I've also had some work published in Phaidon's Vitamin C, with my collaborative project The Grantchester Pottery, a new survey of artists working in clay and ceramics at the moment.
What have you got coming up?
I've just started working on a commission in Thamesmead with The Grantchester Pottery, working with a local school and a lighting designer to redesign an underpass in the area. I'm very excited to be working with a big group of diverse people and seeing what results develop. It's very eye-opening.
Born Northamptonshire, 1984, Phil Root studied BA(hons) Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London 2003 – 2006. Currently lives and works in Bristol. Most recently exhibited work at Bluecoat, Liverpool, Coventry Biennial, Coventry, Macaulay & Co Fine Art, Vancouver, B.C, Serpentine Gallery, Camden Arts Centre, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Jerwood Visual Arts, ICA, London and Spacex, Exeter. In 2011 took up residency at Wysing Arts Centre and co-founded The Grantchester Pottery with artist Giles Round.
Working towards a South West where talented artists thrive, and a resilient and connected visual arts ecology that inspires more engaged and diverse audiences to value and advocate for its work.
Part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network