Hello Zachary! We are super excited to kick off this new series of interviews and finally let the world discover the selection of artists we have on the platform. Could you tell a few things about yourself?
I am a sculptor, currently living in Glasgow, even though my roots are from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. I grew up in a very creative household — my father was a secondary school art teacher, and my mother was a university lecturer in fashion. Looking back, it felt like most weekends we went to galleries or museums. I think when I was a teenager, I realised it was inevitable that I would become an artist.
After high school, I went to art school to do a Foundation course. I discovered I was adept at making things with clay, so I went to study ceramics at Edinburgh College of Art. When I was there, I was introduced to 3D digital modelling software, and thus begun a lifelong interest in making, materials, and digital processes.
It wasn’t until I completed a Master’s at the Royal College of Art that I really thought of myself as a proper artist. Prior to that, I had just considered myself in training.
What about the creative process? How do you get inspired?
The creative process can be so different with every project — sometimes it is exploring some new software and finding the nuances in it, or it can be returning to a material I haven’t used in a while. Although I don’t use clay very often, it is a material I keep coming back to. Or reading — quite often when I read, I find that I have been generating entire projects in my head, and I haven’t really been reading at all.
I love collaborating, and I find it fascinating seeing how other people think. Conversation can be a great stimulant; the verbalisation of ideas and the collective shaping of thoughts can be so fruitful.
The need to create is vital for me — making art is my way of assimilating the world, because it’s nuts out there. It’s my thought process. I am trying to work this world out and learn about how others are trying to work it out too.
How would you define yourself as an artist? Are there any recurrent themes in your works?
I define myself as a sculptor — however, my output is not always sculptural. What I mean to say is that I think in three dimensions, and almost everything I make is about three dimensions, whether it is a drawing, video, sound, dance, or something else.
Thematically, I reference Greek mythology regularly. I am fascinated by how we rationalise our world, and the ancient Greeks attempted to do this with such vivid allegory and storytelling. For my work, the characters of Greek mythology become vehicles to explore contemporary ideas within religion, science, technology, and society. The sculptures in the Divine Principles series and my residency within Scottish Ballet -Technology//Mythology//Allegory — are two projects that reflect this approach well.
Quite often I find myself drawn to geometry and geometric shapes too. I think that is an attempt at self-control, or emblematic of some kind of need for rationality.
What I really want to transmit with my work is exploration — considering aspects of digital society and our progress as a species, and physicalising those thoughts. The goal is to keep making, learning, and growing.
Given you like pushing boundaries: what have been the most unusual experiences you have had in connection to your practice?
One of the most rewarding experiences for me was to go and work within the Scottish Ballet. I had no previous experience of working with dance, and I think I imagined I would be 3D scanning some of the dancers and developing some sculptures. I ended up making three films with motion-capture and digital effects, using a whole series of processes I had never used before. It was a hell of a learning curve, and some long nights were put in to make the work. It was fantastic to work with the dancers and choreographers at Scottish Ballet — it is always fantastic to work with such a group of talented people.
How challenging is it being an emerging artist and trying to make sense of this industry?
Most of the difficulties I face as an artist tend to be technical or fiscal. In terms of the material and quality of my work, I am always very ambitious. The processes I use can quite often be quite expensive. For me, quality needs to extend from ideas through execution.
How being in COVID-19 induced isolation has affected you related to the art practice? Do you think that what happened would influence your future works?
Lockdown has slowed things down, in terms of the production of work. The focus has shifted more onto preparing for the future — developing new work and aiming to secure funding for those projects. I don’t know that the pandemic will directly influence my work, although it has opened up numerous belief systems that are interesting, such as anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists. My work explores the ways humans understand, rationalise, and relate to the world and to existence, so maybe these belief systems have potential to be explored in future projects.
If it is not a secret, what are your future projects?
Sure! I am currently developing several new bodies of work across sculpture, performance, and Extended Reality, using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and motion-capture data. I am working with some great collaborators from different fields, and experimenting with some making processes that I have not used before.