Abi: It is fascinating how the two of you have dovetailed timing wise. Now you support each other.
Alex: We came to realise that instead of resenting each other, we asked each other what is it we really want to do and it was to make art. Andy never really talked about making art and I didn’t realise he was extremely depressed.
Andy: I was spending time looking at other peoples art. Going to private views and talking to students about their art. Then it was a sudden realisation that I was generating all these ideas that were being used for other things. But now that they could be used for self – without being selfish. It is very exciting, because it’s a new chapter isn’t it? And like anything, it has to be something that works for all of us. Because you can’t exist on your own in a family, or else there will be tensions. It has brought us closer together and closer as a family, because everything makes more sense now. There is less tension and resentment and everything is truer. It has a cleanness about it as opposed to a greyness or grubbiness.
Abi: That’s a lovely image.
Andy: Why try and resolve things that are outside of your day to day reality? That’s why I’ve been doing a lot of work around dyslexia, depression and dislocation.
Abi: But doesn’t that go back to that question of why we haven’t made art for twenty years. Is it because you have to find something that feels genuine to talk about and that often comes with age? I really struggled at Art College, because I had nothing to talk about.
Alex: I really enjoyed Art College and had a really productive time. But I made all these rules for myself. I would only make work which was about truth and the sublime, and that I thought could be useful to people. I was brought up a Catholic, so I used to believe in one absolute truth and one absolute God. But now I realize there isn’t one absolute truth. So fuck it. I’m just going to make what I want, and there aren’t any external rules. Now I don’t care if it’s relevant to other people. I don’t care if it’s useful. I’m not trying to make public information videos - I want to make art – and that is what age has done for me. It doesn’t even occur to me to put my art through my filter. Its much more liberating and I feel much more confident about saying I’m an artist now.
And as for two artists being in the house together, I’m all for giving an impromptu tutorial after a gin and tonic.
Andy: We’ve had some very difficult conversations because Alex is not very good at taking criticism.
Alex: That is true.
Andy: We have helped each other though haven’t we?
Alex: I’m really proud of the work Andy put in the Artist's Open Houses in May because it was the first work that he’d made that made him feel vulnerable and it was the most beautiful work I’d seen him make.
Andy: I know, and it was also about making connections with others. Which I think is perhaps what I’ve done with humour in the past. Whereas now I don’t need to use the humour.
Alex: No you’re just trying to be honest aren’t you? Whereas I didn’t think he took art seriously because his work used to be quite jokey. And I’m all about the sublime and VERY serious. I used to think what is the point of making art if you’re just going to make a stupid joke. But now I realise he didn’t want to make art about things that made him feel vulnerable. I’ve always been really serious about my art and I do feel it’s a really serious business - maybe too serious. But I was trying to make work about the big themes, about belief and death and love. Because what else is there? And I’m still trying to make work about those things, but with not quite so much of a heavy hand.
Abi: Yes that lightness of touch is always a good thing, whatever your medium.
Alex: Yes I’m still after the sublime, but not put it through all my filters. Because I used to put it through so many filters there was no work at the end. It had gone through every filter and failed, so you’ve just completely broken it and might as well put it in the bin.
Abi: I totally get that.
Andy: Which is interesting, because Alex is clear about her outcome. Whereas I have no idea what I want to achieve. It’s the journey, whereas Alex seems to be more direct. For me the interesting thing isn’t the end, it’s the thinking and what I’m discovering. Obviously I will have outcomes, but they’re not necessary finished things.
Alex: Yes I have an idea and then I have to make it very quickly or I get bored. So everything I make is done really badly. I don’t mind if it’s badly lit, got shaky camera and no lighting because it just want to do it there and then. Or by the time I’ve set it up – it’s gone.
Abi: Your filter has kicked in?
Alex: Yes, so the first piece I made since I started making work again after 13 years was really quick. The lighting was really bad, but it was just a moment. I didn’t care. I got something and what I captured I’m really, really happy with.