The Thirteen Questions thing again. This time the twelve generic questions, as well as that special thirteenth one, have been fired at an artist who’s ever evolving work and attitude towards her work we have been enjoying for a good few years now. I think Julia Maddison first started showing with us at Cultivate somewhere around 2013, her work hasn’t stopped exciting us or provoking us or questioning us since that first encounter. Amongst other things, Julia recently co-curated that excellent Mother’s Ruin Exhibition at Three Mills in East London and the last time we saw her (via her various social media feeds) she seemed to be running around the isle of Orkney with a crown on her head, surely a rater strange place to choose to be as the Winter starts to attack us? You never quite know what you’re going to get from Julia, there is a definite thread that runs through all her work, a strong and instantly recognisable personality, that oh so vital finger print of almost defiant identity that runs through her installations, her hangings, her hand-embroidered tea towels that say so much in such a pinpoint less-is-more kind of way. A creative defiance that runs through the commentary of her mono prints, through her words stitched onto underwear, painted on canvas, sprawled on gallery walls, on crowns that float away in the sea. For the last ten or so years Julia Maddison has been one of the more consistently exciting contributors to the artist-led London art scene. She, like so many others, has left the capital now, probably chased out, priced out, as so many have been. When she’s not in Orkney, she is mostly based in Hastings these days. Julia has just appeared in both editions of Cultivate’s Mixtape online art show, (Cultivate and Organ are closely related of course), Mixtape No.2 opened a couple of days ago and to tie in with the second Mixtape group show, we fired thirteen questions at Julia Maddison, here is how she answered, do like the sound of that film….
1: WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am Julia (re-named in my infancy, after a bit of a rocky start, and I’m not sure it really suits me) and I make things.
2: WHERE ARE YOU TODAY? WHERE ARE YOU MOST DAYS?
Today I am in Hastings, under a glowering sky, worrying. I’ve been here and there, and all over the place this year, but I’m planning to be here for the next few weeks, maybe….
3: WHO OR WHAT IS EXCITING YOU RIGHT NOW?
The churning, angry sea is putting on a pretty good show right now. I’ve got a new studio space too, which should excite me, and I’m going to be showing some work in France in a few weeks – but the piece isn’t quite resolved. The current William Kentridge show at the RA is pretty exciting (even with a monumental hangover). But I’m feeling rather dispirited at the moment, since you ask.
4: WHY DO YOU MAKE ART?
I’m not sure if there’s anything else I can do
5: HOW DO YOU WORK?
In all sorts of different ways; collecting, collating, making, reworking, subverting. Drawing, cutting, sticking, stitching. Photography. Slowly, meticulously, or sometimes very fast. I’m starting to make a film with another artist – that is all new to me and I really need to do something new; it’s going to be a quixotic, 18th Century, circumlocutory, deeply personal road movie, or something like that.
6: TELL US ABOUT THE ART YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?
Well, obviously, I’m going to say Louise Bourgeois. And Nan Goldin. Filmmaker, Chantal Akerman. Things where the painful and personal are raw and exposed, even if they are couched in a stillness or quietness (I understand what I mean, even if I’ve just contradicted myself).
7: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR OWN WORK?
I’m struggling to like much about my work at the moment; I’ve had to slow right down and stop for a bit. It was all getting too repetitive and predictable; too easy. Clearly, when somebody else gets what I do, when they understand a quiet piece about grief, or loss, and respond to it appropriately, then that means something has worked; I like that.
8: WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR OWN WORK?
9: WHAT HAS BEEN THE HAPPIEST MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE SO FAR?
I was too drunk to remember what it was, alas.
10: WHAT MAKES YOU ANGRY?
The bloody Tories, the people who voted for them, bigotry, prejudice, xenophobia, borders, war, the impending return of US nuclear missiles to UK bases, and, on a less seismic scale, boring, white walled galleries and dull paintings.
11: WHICH SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE AND WHY?
To make sure everybody has the housing, healthcare, food and education they need. If only the Prime Minister had these powers, oh…..
12: WHAT COULDN’T YOU DO WITHOUT?
13: WHAT IS IT ABOUT ORKNEY?
I’m looking for somewhere to be where there are huge skies, where I can scurry through a muddy field down to the sea, and where there are no people in the immediate vicinity. I don’t want to get pissed at private views and fall off my bicycle on the way home anymore; I want solitude. I spent a month on Unst, the most northerly Shetland Island earlier this year and that was perfection; howling winds, snow, sleet, sun, springtime. I was in Orkney for October; it was grey and mysterious. I am always restless, always searching. I will find my island.
Show wise, I’ll have work in Momento Mori at hARTslane Gallery, 17 Harts Lane, SE14 5UP, opening on 25th November, and in Gathered Pearls at Chapelle St Lazare, Angers, France, in December. I’m also plotting to take Mother’s Ruin on tour, possibly to Germany, in the new year.
Do click on an image to enlarge or to run the slide show