As we approach the June Mostra, our third exhibition of this academic year, we will be publishing a series of blogs taking a closer look at the individual practices of our seven resident artists. The second interview is from Anna Brass, our Sainsbury Scholar in Painting & Sculpture.
I know that for the June Mostra you are going to create a poster for your film. Could you tell us more about it?
In the past, I have made the posters either before I have made a film or half way through – I need to be bribed to get to the end. The poster is my carrot. It’s a form of constructive procrastination, which is useful because it’s a way for me to set the tone for the thing I want to make. I like doing it in the wrong order: poster first, film later. The one I’m making now is based on a 15th century pilgrim badge depicting the martyrdom of Saint Alban. He was beheaded in the 3rd or 4th century in England, and the story goes that as a result of the martyrdom the executioner’s eyes immediately popped out of his head. A strange occurrence, so abrupt and cartoonish.
Its very different from the previous poster you showed me which is similar to the way you work, full of emblematic images. This is a bit different, it’s an action.
It is an action: chopping and popping, heads and eyes. I got quite bogged down with my film recently, it became heavy and I was stuck. But when I came across this pilgrim badge I suddenly remembered what I wanted it to be: full of wild and strange imagery. So making this poster is a reminder to myself. Differently to the previous I made it will be a really quick felt tip pen drawing. And then I will get it printed big: proper poster size.
Will you be showing the cup (pictured above) in the June Mostra…
Absolutely, I like this velvet one. It’s from a playing card but it looks religious. I went to Basilica di Santa Cecilia in Trastevere this week, and I did lots of drawings from the Pietro Cavallini frescoes. I’ve been thinking a lot about the creation of the world, or the formation of the universe. I went to see the mosaics in Duomo di Monreale in Sicily a few weeks ago: the creation sequence there is brilliant. There are these big cosmic, semi-abstract images, which are really exciting and strange. Also, I’ve been reading some of Ovid’s Metamorphosis. He talks about the kind of liquid chaos, or bulk of chaos that exists before the world is formed, and how it is separated and taken apart and settled into different things. For the June Mostra I’ve been thinking about a primordial swamp, full of elements and raw materials, swirling and shifting. And out of this cosmic soup emerges some kind of sentient figure or force that can animate matter. And it changes everything, it changes the whole structure of the world.
At the BSR, you have led a few workshops and now you’re thinking about curating a show in Rome. Tell us more…
Yes, and it is something I was doing before but it has been much more concentrated here. I find that kind of collaboration is vital to my work, and also vital to the idea that you can get things done. I have a lot of energy and it flows better when I can work with other people on different things.
In the future, will you continue with this dynamic way of working?
Yes, absolutely. The pinhole workshop that I did with Martina and David, that has been so important in the way I have been thinking about image-making, even though it started as a separate thing. I am going to include pinhole photographs in my film. It’s a way to keep it all open.
Anna’s work will be exhibited alongside the seven other resident artists in the June Mostra. The opening will take place on Friday 14 June 18.30-21.00. Opening hours 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 22 June 2019, closed Sundays.
Interview by Marta Pellerini (Visual Art Residency and Programme Curator). Photos courtesy of the artist.