Aspex Gallery, The Vulcan, PO1 3BF
Monday 01 October 2018 – Wednesday 31 July 2019
Image: Naomi Frears, 10 (2016), 3 screen digital projection.
Our Artist of the Month feature aims to promote artists' work and raise issues in a quick, informal way. June's Artist of the Month is Naomi Frears.
Hello, what do you do?
I have a studio practice that includes drawing, printmaking and painting and, since 2014, I have also been working with moving image. I don’t worry about where the connection between these activities is but know they are all related.
I am also involved in putting on exhibitions and events that focus on the work of other artists, occasionally running Printmaking for Boys sessions (it’s not necessarily about printmaking and it’s not just for boys), co-piloting a monthly discussion group and taking part in a great thing with five other people called School.
Where are you based and how long have you been there?
I work in the Porthmeor Studios in St Ives but if I’m not there I might be printmaking in the open-access print studio up the road, out filming, or in an airless bunker editing films with my friend and colleague Rachael Jones.
Painting and filming happen alone and all the other parts of my work life involve working with other people, which I think is very good for me.
What’s the best thing about the place that you work in?
My studio is an extraordinary space with a huge window overlooking the beach but it wouldn’t be the right place to work if the other stuff wasn’t there and that will always be about people for me. I love being involved in the life of the town as well as being part of a lively wider community of artists, filmmakers, and curators in the area. There are plenty of remarkable people here and some great people passing through too. That mix is the best thing.
What does 'success' mean to you?
Success for me means having the right amount of independence and self-determination. It means being able to work in the way I choose with individuals and institutions I build good relationships with and working with new people too. I think it might have something to do with developing a practice that is expanding instead of contracting as well as connecting to others and being able to both receive support and give it when and where it is needed.
Do you earn a living from making art? If not, or only partially, what else do you do?
I do earn my living from my work but also work in gallery education because I enjoy it and it still makes me feel slightly terrified (in a good way).
What makes a good artwork?
A good artwork can be absolutely anything but there will be something undeniable about it however small and quiet it is.
What have you been up to recently?
Within the last year I have been mentored by Matt Burrows as part of the VASW mentor programme, presented a new three screen projection (10) in a solo show at Kestle Barton, had a show of paintings at Beaux Arts in London, and received an award for my film Study In Hindsight at Exeter Contemporary Open. I also initiated and co-hosted A Long weekend of Uncertainty, the first in a series of unpredictable conversations between people from different disciplines (architecture, early English drama, psychology, writing, art) at Kestle Barton. I recently co-hosted and programmed an event in my studio showcasing the work of film and fine art students working with moving image at Falmouth University.
What have you got coming up?
A new and very short film (Let Go) will be shown in the Plymouth Contemporary Open this summer. The publishers Peter Owen have selected a work of mine for the cover of a special edition of Ice by Anna Kavan. I am also working on a project with DJ Luke Vibert (Plug, Wagon Christ, Kerrier District) for Groundwork.
With Melanie Stidolph, I am co-curating a free Late at Tate evening event (full of hands, feet, chance and magic) at Tate St Ives. There’s a bar and Radio 4’s Dr David Bramwell (not a real doctor), Chloe Cooper (artist) and Kuldip Singh-Barmi (dancer) are all performing so clear your diary and come along: 6.30 – 9.30 on Friday June 16th.
Born in Leicestershire. Art college at Loughborough and Sunderland where I won the printmaking prize. Long and distracting motorcycle trip across Europe, parts of Asia and around half of Australia. Settled in St Ives in 1989. Exhibitions include solo shows at Newlyn Art gallery, Kestle Barton and Beaux Arts London. Group shows include Art Now Cornwall at Tate St Ives, Drawing Show curated by Drawing Room, Double Vision and Print! at the Exchange as well as Encounters at Gallery Mejan, Stockholm. Occasional covers for London Review of Books and work selected for Plymouth Contemporary 2015 and 2017. Award winner at Exeter Contemporary Open 2016.
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