There are still three days left to see the fantastic show put together by our resident artists for the June Mostra! In the final instalment of the Meet the artists blog series, we spoke to Sainsbury Scholar in Painting & Sculpture, Catherine Parsonage, about her residency and how her practice has changed over the course of the past nine months.
Catherine Parsonage uses painting and sculpture to pursue the ultimate reduction of the female form, condensing the body to its most elementary essence through single deft lines. The drawings and paintings carefully choreograph the body as the fashion photographer might its subject, creating a distilled mis-en-scene, where the subtle shifts in weight and angle are imbued with movement and poise.
With this being your third Mostra, you have by now worked alongside three different groups of artists with very different practices. Have you noticed your work changing in response to this? If so, how?
Every three months when the new artists arrive an entirely new energy is exchanged at the BSR. I think that watching and understanding how different artists approach their work but perhaps more importantly their time at the BSR has been really valuable. I think I am still absorbing a lot from my first three months here where the conversations and relationships I had shifted everything about my approach to painting; similarly recent conversations have encouraged me to work through my ideas in other mediums.
In the past few months, you have been collaborating with artists both inside and outside the BSR. How did these projects came about, and are these collaborations are a new practice for you?
Yes, they are a new practice for me, the collaborations and conversations I have been part of during the last few months have been so nourishing for my approach to thinking and making. The exhibition FULL FOR IT with Tomaso de Luca and the process of making the video a condition for doing things together with Kate Power have resulted in work I am not only excited by but which I know will have a huge impact in the future.
Artist Celine Condorelli cites in her work on the politics of friendship this beautiful quote by Bertrand, which comes to mind when I think about these relationships and collaborations:
The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not merely as means to other things, are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness, and relations of friendship or affection.
In your last interview, you mentioned that you have been working with stained glass. How did you go on with that in the last three months?
Some of the smaller pieces have in fact just arrived in the studio, and I think they will be exhibited in Italy in late Autumn. The development and production of the stained glass pieces has been a long process: the initial ideas and drawings have had to be constantly adapted through conversation and tests with Paolo Corpetti, the artisan I have been working with. There has been a reciprocal push and pull to find a balance between the vision for the work and the potential and limitations of the materials themselves; I think this is one of the most significant elements of these exchanges – for example even seeing the pieces in my studio this week has shifted how I will install and treat them and this forced fluidity is a welcome challenge.
Do you feel an affinity with these new mediums – performance, glass, printmaking– and do you think you will explore them further after your residency?
Definitely, I think I am still processing my thoughts about the video a condition for doing things together with Kate Power: the piece involves a single shot of Kate and I at dawn wearing these stilt-like pointed shoes which we made from pieces of wood left around the workshop; the experience of performing in these shoes – of falling, struggling, supporting one another was an incredibly intense, rich and new one for me. Kate and I will continue to work together and in this performative manner in the future.
With all the other 2016-17 residencies ending at the end of June, the next three months at the BSR will no doubt have a very different atmosphere to work in. Can you anticipate how this might affect your work? Do you know yet how you intend to use that time, which will be more open-ended than the October—June period?
The residency thus far has been an intense time of change for my work, I hope that the upcoming months will provide a quieter moment to digest and reflect on these shifts and to process the immense visual fullness one experiences in Rome. I will be spending these months working towards solo shows in London and Italy later in the year.
Catherine’s work is currently being exhibited alongside the six other resident artists in the June Mostra; open 16.30-19.00, Friday 16 June until Saturday 24 June 2017, closed Sundays.
Interview conducted by Ellie Johnson (Communications & Events)