Kristian Day recently opened his latest exhibition, ‘arc.’, at Herrick Gallery in Mayfair, featuring the work of young London-based artists Mark Corfield-Moore, Victor Seaward, Nathaniel Faulkner and Fani Parali. Over the course of it’s three week duration Writer and Art Historian Hector Campbell spoke to the artists about their influences, creative process and exhibited work. Seaward spoke about his background in art history and work at Bonhams auction house, his interest in technological advancement and his own curatorial project space ‘The Parasite’. Read the full interview with Victor Seaward below:
Clouds, 2018, smoke residue on cast concrete panel, 23.5 x 16 cm
Install view from Arc
Hector Campbell: You studied History of Art at the University of Leeds before going on to complete an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art. Does this academic backing in art history influence your own artistic practice? And if so in what ways?
Victor Seaward: I think it does but in a subtle manner - art history is always something at the back of my mind when I make a work as I try to ensure that I am not making something overly derivative or a work that relies too much on familiar territory. I guess I am trying to find my own voice and it can help to be able to draw upon a wide range of references. Art history is of course a potent source of inspiration but for me it is not something that specifically drives the work, more like an internal control mechanism.
One of the reasons I was drawn to Leeds is that the art history course had a very strong emphasis on Aesthetics, and that’s increasingly been the most useful tool for my artistic practice.
HC: You worked for four years at Bonhams Auctioneers as a Junior Specialist in Post-War & Contemporary Art, does this also influence your own creative output?
VS: I was lucky to handle some fantastic works in the post-war and contemporary art department, but it was exposure to works of art from other departments which really influenced me: antiquities, old masters, Chinese, Japanese, silver, and even furniture. When I started in the department I spent quite a lot of time at the warehouse and was exposed to some amazing works: massive Buddhist bronzes, monolithic altars, Egyptian wood carvings and Etruscan marbles.
All these ancient things have such beautiful patination, with an authenticity only attained from centuries of aging. There is a certain sense of mystery you feel when handling these objects – they feel different, charged and almost alien, and this is something I try to capture in my art.
Installation view of F, Untitled and Structures 1 in Arc
HC: In this current exhibition with Kristian Day many of your concrete panels are on display. Can you talk some more about this series of work? What led you to experiment with concrete as a medium?
VS: I have been using concrete for about four years now, having started when I was still at Bonhams and making work in isolation in my flat in East London. I started using it for technical purposes - I wanted to make casts that had a permanence to them. Just looking out of the window and seeing it everywhere, it seemed natural to try it out. Concrete is something that permeates the urban environment: it shelters us, protects us, and allows for transformative infrastructure. Yet despite its inherent utilitarianism, it retains a very alluring materiality, a cold muteness that I try and exploit. In recent concrete works I have focussed on more unconventional types of patination such as rust, smoke residue, and pewter in order to try and exploit the mechanical properties of the concrete panels to a higher degree.
HC: You clearly have a keen interest in modern technologies, having made a 3D printer from scratch which produced the PLA Townley Discobolus on display within your work ‘Chamber’ (2018). What advantages do you believe technology such as 3D printing can bring to contemporary art?
VS: There’s certainly an immediacy with technology that I drawn to. But it’s more the potential for errors and mutations that I’m really interested in. The 3D printer I made functions simultaneously as an artwork and a tool. It was made from the beginning with it being a performative artwork as its raison d’être: from the mechanical properties to the coding. As such the prints are not particularly tight, but this allows for little errors and ‘noise’ to creep in and these seem like the most genuine parts.
In wider context I think both additive and subtractive manufacturing can open up massive new areas of possibility for artists, and both these technologies are becoming more and more commonplace in art production. This is a good thing; I think artists should use technologies appropriate to their era where appropriate.
HC: You recently created The Parasite, a project space currently attached to the Sackler Building on Radstock Street. Can you explain the ideas behind the space? How have you found the experience of setting up and curating the space?
VS: The Parasite is very much an extension of my work but rather than being a definitive realised artwork in its own right, it acts as a framework for other artists to display in. It’s essentially a micro-gallery that’s attached to the side of the Sackler Building at the RCA and has so far hosted six exhibitions.
Chamber, 2018, wired safety glass, mild steel, LED lighting, 3D printed PLA [The Townley Discobolus, British Museum] upon rotating plinth, pewter, clip stand, fuses, aluminium bottle, perforated aluminium and spray paint on plaster fragment, 37 x 26 x 22 cm
Install view from Arc
I felt the need to bring a curatorial aspect to my practice and this was a way to be able to do it without having to rent or own a bona fide space - as such it also acts as a thinly veiled response to the current gallery / space climate of the London art scene. It is by its very nature a parasitic space - feeding off the location and footfall of the host without any financial commitments. I’m interested in display and containment and I have made several vitrines in the past so it was logical for the Parasite to take the form of an industrial post-luxury display vitrine. The way the artists have responded to altering their practices to exhibiting in an absurdly small space has been very interesting.
As well as being parasitic it is also a nomadic space, and now I’ve graduated it will be moved to a new location or host. theparasite.org
Installation view of Ogham I and Landscape in Arc
Victor Seaward (b. 1988, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, lives in London)
Seaward juxtaposes raw, functional materials, such as concrete, with high-tech industrial materials and apparatuses to expose how social and cultural groups are able to enduringly place meaningful stock, through the addition of pattern, objects and symbols, in otherwise mundane ephemera.
Victor Seaward studied for his BA in History of Art at the University of Leeds before undertaking an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art.
Recent exhibitions include the Royal College of Art Degree show 2018, Spring Syllabus at J Hammond Projects, 20x20 at Griffin Gallery, and at the Sackler Building, Royal College of Art and Surrogate Twins at the Gulbenkian Project Space, London. Forthcoming projects include a solo show at Rectory Projects in late 2018. Victor is also the director of The Parasite - a parasitic project space currently hosting on the Sackler Building at the Royal College of Art.