Monday, 20 August 2012

5th in the series ' 1st Year Out of Uni' Interview with Casper White

Casper White - Self -Portrait,Water-colour on and within ice (2011)

Casper White graduated with an MA in Contemporary Dialogues from Swansea Metropolitan University in 2011. He was one of Axis's MAstars in 2011, and has exhibited widely in Wales and in London.  Based in Cardiff, his practice involves painting directly upon blocks of ice, letting layers freeze before adding another section. Once the work is completed the piece is filmed defrosting. The whole process is looped and presented on a screen alongside one of the real ice paintings which defrosts in front of the audience.

   Elizabeth Dismorr     What do you miss (if anything) about being in an educational environment?
Casper White I miss the access to various library resources.  However in general I feel freer now than I did in university.  In university I found myself trying to over contextualize my work, often to a fault. Often I would show a weaker piece as it “fitted”.  Saying that, I now have different constraints, e.g. trying to make pieces that will sell, making work that is a transportable size, etc.

  ED Do you feel that you have managed to balance earning enough money to live with practicing as an artist?
  CW No.  Although I have had a few years where I feel I have done very well, realistically they amount to below minimum wage and by no means compare to a traditional vocation. There are many positives but the system I am part of has very small amounts of money spread quite thinly.

  ED Have you taken part in any unpaid work experience/internships/volunteering? Do you think these will stand you in good stead to finding a job?
  CW  have volunteered many times over the past ten years.  Volunteering has connected me with people who share similar interests to me and are often in a similar position as me, work-wise.  Some shows often involve volunteering, whether that be through hanging the work or performing other roles within the gallery space.  If you also consider the cost of producing the work that is exhibited, often for no monetary return, then you could consider it a form of unpaid volunteering.

  ED  How has your practice evolved in the last year?
  CW I have become aware of a dip in the quality of my work since leaving university.  Although I have been consistently producing lots of work, the quality has been missing.  One reason for this was that I was justifying my practise through applications for residencies, competitions and awards.  These applications took precedence and I found myself unconsciously twisting my work to fit various things it shouldn’t have.  Recently I have started to consciously counteract this by not applying to many things.  Over the last year most applications have led to rejections but a few have had positive results.  Although interesting and great to be involved in, I have realized that the residency/awards system is not healthy for my practice.  My studio practice has become increasingly important.   Although not public, I feel it has become more of a practice space than a place of production of works.

  ED    Have managed to participate in many exhibitions/events in the year since you have graduated?
  CW Quite a few - a few group shows and a larger solo presentation of current paintings.  These have been hit and miss and my work is often shown in commercial galleries which at the moment are feeling the cutbacks/depression like us all.  Sadly in Wales I feel that the gallery I am showing with rarely engages me with people who don’t already know my practice.

ED   What do you hope to achieve in terms of your practice and career as an artist?
CW Currently I can see my practice as some sort of training.  I feel like I have been leading up to engaging in a real practice.  What that is I am slightly unsure of, but I have been practising and things have started to come to a point that I hope to find interesting and that others will also enjoy.  I feel dialogue is part of this practise, but I am currently unsure how to utilise this.

  ED    Many British artists are drawn to moving to London after they have graduated. Have you felt this pull?
  CW No.  The evidence I have of peers and friends is that it is not conducive to making which is something I feel I have more mileage with.  Also a 2-hour train ride is not too far to travel, so if there’s something I feel I need to see, I can just get on a train.

  ED    And finally – what advice would you give to any artists who have just graduated in 2012 and are keen to make it as an artist?
  CW If you are not doing it for yourself you may need to reconsider, as being painter is often a thankless task.  Like that of a gardener, no matter how many hours one puts in, more can be spent to produce a form or a glimpse of something fleeting. 

You can find out more about Casper Whites work at:

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