The start of summer saw the launch of Liverpool Biennial 2016, where Ted is a proud sponsor. As a longstanding champion of the arts, he was delighted to support the work of conceptual artist Céline Condorelli at the UK’s largest contemporary arts fair. With only one month left to go, he caught up with the artist to see how she’s been letting her hair down since, her top tips for emerging artists and how she’s redefining the humble door through her art.
Can you tell Ted and his friends about the artwork you’ve created for the Liverpool Biennial this year?
My contribution to the Liverpool Biennial consists of a sequence of five Portals, which are sort of doors, or entrance pieces. Doors are more than a means of ingress and exit from enclosed spaces; they are also carriers of meaning through taste and status. Size, material and placement all indicate variables of importance in conditioning our interpretation before even crossing a threshold. These variables are so specific that we can understand clearly where we are and are not allowed to enter in the city.
I developed quite simple constructions (well some are simpler than others). Each one corresponds to a different way to enter and the Portals are there for setting climate, atmosphere, attitude, temperature....
There is also a synchronicity in the term entrance. Alongside the act of entering – the actual physical threshold the entry might happen through or the appearance of a character on screen or on stage – it also means to put in a trance, to delight, or to entrance.
The theme of the festival this year is based on episodes… How did this transpire into portals?
I was interested in developing a series of portals in relationship to the episodes. Each entrance piece is adapted and adaptable to its context (both the place where it is shown, and the episode it relates to). Portals in this way allow one to enter both a physical and a conceptual architecture...
I think of a Portal as a gateway, a passage that allows access of space or knowledge. While we associate doors both physically and metaphorically with the possibility of passing through, the decision to enter or turn away is made in response to an understanding of status, situation and desire, or feelings of being welcome. These variables are difficult to define verbally. For instance, workers’ entrances are usually small (why? maybe they should have decorated monumental arches). Yet we associate door openings as related to the size of what needs to go through them (as elephants would require larger doors than humans).
Can you share your journey into the industry and how you’ve reached where you are now as an established artist?
I try and not think of art making as an industry as such… and also do not think of myself as established! There seems to be so much more to do, and it requires high levels of energy and motivation. My path to where I am now was an unconventional one and I never even went to art school – I studied music and architecture – but I always knew what the next thing I wanted to do was, and I tried to keep my mind open as to where or how that could take place.
Who, what and where inspires your work?
First of all, it is people who inspire me: friends, peers or family from present and past. Everything I know and do has come from someone, at some point down the line. I am immensely grateful for the inspiring people in my life, even those in books!
I have been very inspired and influenced by architecture through the years – furniture, buildings and cities interest me, but I never wanted to make them myself. The Portals also designate an architectural typology, the threshold, the door, which is currently interesting to me on different levels.
What other upcoming projects are you currently working on?
This year I am trying to finish my first monographic book, which I am working on with the brilliant graphic designer James Langdon, and will be published by Mousse Publishing this autumn. We will be using several printing techniques to make a book which I hope will be both an artwork and an exhibition.
More immediately, I am also developing a large installation for the Gwangju Bienniale in South Korea, curated by Maria Lind, which will open at the beginning of September.
Ted hears you’re one of the founding directors of Eastside Projects – can you tell him more about this venture?
Eastside Projects is an artist-run space and public gallery for the city of Birmingham and the world. It has been organised by a founding collective comprising myself with Simon and Tom Bloor, Ruth Claxton, James Langdon (whom I mentioned above) and Gavin Wade, who now runs the space. It first opened to the public in September 2008.
Any top tips for aspiring artists?
Work together! Remember no-one really does anything on their own.
Now all the hard work is over, you can enjoy the show… how do you plan to let your hair down in Liverpool? Any tips for Ted?
I’ve really been enjoying Liverpool’s Chinese restaurants! Two favourites have been Mr. Chilli, which has wonderful artwork by Elena Narbutaité who is part of the Biennial, and Yo’s where we had an amazing meal. Did you know that Liverpool’s Chinatown is the oldest in the world?