ADVENTurous is an open submission exhibition exploring the christmas narrative, which we're staging in 3 UK venues during advent this year : at Engedi in Colwyn Bay, Leftbank in Leeds and the Union Chapel in Islington, London.

The work exhibited at Union Chapel will also be part of the one-day ‘ADVENTurous' conference, hosted by Greenbelt Festival and partners.

On this blog we'll be posting regular updates about how plans for the Leftbank Leeds show are progressing, with information about the contributing artists, and possibly some previews of the work being created for the exhibition...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Introducing... Abbie Hulson

Left Bank: Welcome to ADVENTurous! Could you tell us about yourself and your art!

AH: I lived in Holywell, Flintshire before moving to Rhyl when I was seven. I gained a BTEC in Art and Design at Llandrillo College (2003 – 4). I attended Yale College, Wrexham between 2004 – 2007 before moving to Sunderland (2008 – 2011) where I gained a BA in Animation and Design at the University of Sunderland.

I now live in Buckley, Flintshire, working as a ceramic artist and freelancing on the side, focusing on animal portraiture. I have a keen interest in still life studying the composition of animals and nature. I experiment with various media such as photography, stick and ink, pencil, biro, wax, watercolour, gouache, acrylics and oils.

Left Bank: I am really interested in your interpretation of the Advent theme  - which I think will promote some debate at the exhibition! Could you tell us how you approached the ADVENTurous brief and what lead you to interpret it the way you have?

AH: I was attracted to the text about faith, economy and ecology in a sense of where we are, where we’re going and how we get there, I feel that life today all revolves around making money, and it's the drive of making money that makes us deaf and dumb to the things in life that truly matter.  So all in all we don't actually know where we are, where we’re going or how we’re getting there! 

After a few days brainstorming and looking through the titles that we were given, 3 of them caught my eye. I came up with the idea of drawing 3 caricatures of well-known political figures (hoping I get the features right so people recognise who they are!) and to title them each using a play on words 'Prophet. Inn. Silence'.  I hope to convey my idea on faith, economy and ecology through these titles and caricatures by giving them a ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ theme, using British currency to cover the appropriate facial parts. 

Everybody has their own views, I'm not trying to impose my views of capitalism on to others it's simply my view on humanity today, how money is our drive and not our faith or morals. I hope my pieces achieve debate, and I welcome other people’s opinions and I'm intrigued to see if many people agree with my message.

Left Bank: Do you think it is sad that the theme of Advent can be synonymous with a festive period of excess greed and consumerism?

AH: It doesn’t make me sad, because although my views about greed and consumerism are strong views, I’m not trying to tell people how to live their lives or that they are living their lives wrong I’m just expressing my views on what makes us human, I’m guilty every time I eat a chocolate bar or buy some new shoes. 

Left Bank: Your caricature of Thatcher is absolutely recogniseable.
I was at University when she arrived  - I remember the poll tax riots and have family who marched with the miners. That was a long time ago  -  but I wonder if she still epitomizes capitalism in a way no other politician has quite matched since? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

AH:  Thank you! I’ve been worried about getting them right!  I’ve only followed politics very lightly, and kind of stereotype all politicians as greedy, power hungry, deluded tax dodging suits… which is poor on my behalf for stereotyping people.  I will say that Maggie always stood out for me I think mainly because there have been so many parodies using Maggie’s image, spitting image sticks in my mind, I was only young when it was on TV, but it’s burnt into my brain! Then I went to live in Sunderland for three years and learnt how hated she actually is! 

Left Bank: Why do you say in your statement that you have made your pictures small because you want the caricatures ‘overlooked’?

AH:  I think I’d like my pieces to become overlooked because I would like to convey or kind of prove human’s natural skill in failing to take the time to stop and look at something that cannot benefit them directly. Though I think that is more of a self-indulgence for me, proving myself right about human arrogance, rather than trying to convert other peoples thoughts or actions.

Left Bank:  It will be interesting to see people do react! Do you think artists have a role to change the way people think? 

AH:  I think we control what we class as art and we choose what message we want to let in, therefore I think it can only be the person who wants to change the way they think, that can change the way they think, whether they choose art or any other medium to do this, its up to them.

Left Bank: Do you plan to use your art to provoke debate in the future or was it that the ADVENTurous theme made you look more closely at who we are, where we are going…and how are going to get there?

AH:  I think we should live life rather than debate it! The ADVENTurous theme most certainly brought me to question who we are, where we are going and how are we going to get there, which lead me to come up with the message behind my triptych which is, that the trivial things in life make us deaf and dumb to what’s truly important, we don’t know who we are, where we are going or how we are going to get there.

Left Bank: I am very curious as to who you have chosen for the other two caricatures?  Can you say anymore about them at this stage?

AH: that’s no problem! I wanted to choose political figures that are the most recognizable, have the most obtrusive features and who have been the most deluded! My other two caricatures are Tony Blair with £5 notes stuffed in his ears and Gordon Brown who will have £5 notes stuffed in his mouth, all together the three political figures will complete my ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ topic.

Left Bank:  What else are you working on at the moment?

AH:  I have work half finished everywhere!  I have work that’s still going from over 4 years ago!  I paint and sketch animals, mainly dogs.  Most of the work I paint is for personal gain with the odd commission chucked in.  I work full time as a ceramic factory artist.  I’m also a traditional animator and have a few ideas lined up when I get time to start on them, which I will hopefully enter into animation festivals next year.

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