Showcase Shop – Artist Profiles
In December 2011, in the Creative Scotland offices in Edinburgh's Waverley Gate, The Skinny launched the first collection of its Showcase Shop, a collaborative venture with online art site Culture Label. The aim of the shop was simple – to take seven of the emergent artists who had featured in the magazine's Showcase section in the last five years, and have them create bespoke collections of limited edition prints which could then be bought online, thereby providing them with exposure and a way to make some money from their artwork, and giving the public the chance to own beautiful works by early career artists. This month, we're bringing the original prints to Glasgow's Urban Outfitters for an exhibition in the real world, so we caught up with the artists to get a bit of background on their work.
Rachel MacLean is a digital and video artist based in Glasgow, who graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2009. She's exhibited widely to much acclaim at home and abroad, and recently created music videos for Glasgow favourites Errors and The Phantom Band. For the Culture Label collection she produced two new works, a diptych of prints entitled The Innocents and Massacre of the Innocents. She says, “Broadly speaking I’m influenced by visions or depictions of otherworldly, dreamlike or fantasy spaces. The prints are inspired by the Biblical tale – I’ve always been intrigued by the paintings of this scene in art history. Quite often it's depicted in a kind of Mannerist style, almost eroticised, interlocking flesh, these men throwing babies, women clinging onto babies. I quite like that this very violent event is made into something quite sublime or beautiful, glamourised.
“In the images I’m dressed up as cats, but clearly as a human dressed up as cats. I was keen to have quite a strong notion of gender as well, busty sort of beauty queen type figures and then these macho body builder type men interacting in this world. The two images are mirror images – the first one is this kind of arcadia, referencing a pastoral paradise with these figures lounging around drinking coffee and sort of touching each other up, and the second one references the Massacre of the Innocents images. There’s a shift in the tone of the images. I like the idea of these characters becoming these branded, commodified references.”
Ross Fraser McLean is a Dundee-based photographer. For the Showcase Shop he presents a series of images of Cuba taken during the 50th anniversary of the revolution on an Olympus OM2N camera that's older than him.
“The interesting thing to me about these images is that they’re all reactions without too much thought being put in. After that there was quite a bit of time spent trying to perfect the colours and the levels and the tones – from something that was taken in quite a spontaneous, almost throwaway manner, they’ve lived on beyond that.
“The slightly ironic thing about the images is that they pay homage to the 1970s American photographers, colourists from that era who will never be able to go legally to Cuba. I suppose to me they mark an era in Cuba’s history that I hope will live on.
“Puesta del Sol, the sunset image, is a strong one for me. Even though it was a night shot set up with a tripod and so on it’s deliberately slightly squint, a way of saying ‘Screw you Photoshop!’ It’s good to leave the flaws in.”
Rabiya Choudhry is a painter who lives in Edinburgh. She graduated from ECA in 2006, has shown in Collective, DCA and in the Edinburgh International Festival, and has lately been exhibiting in Edinburgh, Paris and Prague.
“Family’s a big theme for me – a lot of my work comes from memory, the subconscious, dreams. Everything’s threaded from my upbringing. I like to have fun and make pictures I’d like to hang on my wall and make me laugh – there’s always a bit of humour behind everything.
“I grew up in a house where there wasn’t much art, so the television was kind of the exhibition space – that’s where a lot of my influences came from. A lot of cartoons, films. I watch a lot of horror films. I’d say my dad’s a big influence, his religion, his belief in Islam is fascinating to me.
“I made some money for the Culture Label collection. I made three drawings in red ink; money – lack of it, desire for it. I wanted to make these intricate drawings of money and I used red because it’s the colour of blood. Using the designs of the three coins themselves – one pence, two pence, a pound – and doing my own version. That’s what I’m always trying to do, trying to bring things to life more with a sense of humour and make them look a bit better than they do.”
Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell have been working collaboratively as Good Wives and Warriors since 2007, soon after they graduated from the Painting Department at The Glasgow School of Art. They divide their time between designing large-scale installations for fine art settings and undertaking design commissions for companies in the UK and abroad, including Absolute Vodka, Adidas and Swatch. They have exhibited around the world, including shows in Berlin, Paris, Melbourne, Buenos Aires and San Francisco and have been featured in a number of publications and books including ICON Magazine, Wired Magazine and the Taschen books Illustration Now!3 and Portraits. They are currently based in London, UK. For the Skinny Shop first collection they've put together a selection of prints inspired by mandalas.
David Lemm is an artist and illustrator who lives in Edinburgh. He studied animation at Duncan of Jordanstone. You can see more of his work in the flesh in The Middle Place, an exhibition with fellow artists Jamie Johnson and Al White, in Edinburgh's Old Ambulance Depot, 4-13 May.
“I guess the main thrust of my work is finding structure or some sort of narrative or natural systems that occur within chaos and entropy, particularly within the natural world. I try to apply that to both my commissioned and personal work. I’m fascinated with cosmology and the need we have for structure in a belief system, the need to apply a framework on which we can find meaning in chaos.
“Solar Evolution is a fairly straightforward illustration of the evolution and life of the sun pared down to abstract shapes. Trying to convey that weighty concept as simply and elegantly as possible.”
Jamie Johnson is an illustrator based in Edinburgh who graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone in 2011. “I use quite a variety of media, a lot of fine line drawings, lots of elements of collage, photocopies, watercolour paints. I try to bring it together quite intuitively. I take observations from everyday narratives and reinterpret them through my own imagination.
“The pieces for Culture Label were done specifically for the project. In this case it was a lot of disparate elements brought together in a seemingly random but constructed manner, to further delve into this otherworldy narrative I’m trying to explore, using components from the everyday. Two of the pieces are specifically inspired by visiting townships in South Africa in 2010. One of the pieces, Puppet Quartet, was based on a Johannesburg street fair, a sort of community project – they made these giant puppets that were controlled by sticks, and guys were playing trumpets; it was all quite surreal but a really good jovial atmosphere. And quite low-key, there weren’t a lot of people around for the sort of effort that had been put into these puppets and the whole set up of it. It resonated with the kind of themes I’d been looking at before going. So I took some sketches and reinterpreted it slightly.”
Markus Thorsen was born in a small seaside town in Norway. He got a degree in Photography from Edinburgh College of Art, and worked for The Skinny, where he photographed live concerts and artists being interviewed. From his images of concerts around Edinburgh he made a book called LIVE - A Collection of Bands from the Edinburgh Live Scene that also earned him a solo exhibition in the Edinburgh Festival 2010. He was a Fujifilm Student Award 2008 merit winner and got nominated for Event Photographer of the Year at The Scottish New Music Awards 2011. For this collection he offers up a selection of his live music photography, black and white images of artists including Killing Joke, Marina and the Diamonds, Mogwai and the Prodigy.