Desmond Brett


Desmond Brett was born in Ipswich, 1973. 
He studied B.A.(Hons) Fine Art Sculpture at The Slade School of Fine Art, 1993 -1997 
and M.F.A. Sculpture at The Slade, 1997-1999 
He lives and works in Essex.





Cling film is wrapped tightly around a shelving system. Two blankets filled with pools of paint lie in guttering formers. A metal rod intrudes into the space with felt rings spaced along its length. A crumpled white dripping painting sits on a hat block upon the floor. A gilded sheet of corrugated iron is hung high. A crumpled oil drum has been sand blasted and oil finished. White glazed ceramic scrunches adorn a pegboard wall. A looped film shows a ragged hole jittering inside another. 

A discussion between kaavous Clayton and Desmond Brett, Outpost 28 January 2007. 

Kaavous Clayton: You seem to have a love-hate relationship with lines and edges. Are you obliterating or highlighting? 

Desmond Brett: What constitutes a line or an edge is an ongoing concern for me. I have certainly become involved with highlighting, or revealing the presence of, or even extending the potential of lines and edges. If I'm not necessarily obliterating them I am perhaps obscuring them. 

KC: Is this obscuring connected to ideas of recognition? 

DB: Yes. What I recognise or think I recognise is often obscured by time. Dissolving definition or revealing some kind of substrate is an attempt to describe this interference. Elsewhere I have tried to express images I have drawn from no particular source. 

KC: When you say recognition is obscured by time do you mean in reference to changing contexts and knowledge? 

DB: Yes. Experiences often take time to respond to. My knowledge of how I am going to respond is open to how I order my activities in the studio, or how experiences manifest themselves as drawings which then in turn get translated into sculptures. Frequently the context that triggers a response is brief, like a glimpse or a memory. I like the interference that occurs between the original context and that of the sketchbook or the studio. 

KC: I think that the brevity you have mentioned translates well in some of your work, their blurred edges resulting in altered states of form. I am particularly drawn to the crushed and sand blasted oil drum whose finishing has created a surface that is unfamiliar and difficult to recognise. Do you see a distinction between surface and line? 

DB: Not really, not in that piece - what drew me to that object was the collision (literally) between line and surface. It feels like some kind of inbetweener. Is that a real word? I wanted to remove the surface history. I remember seeing John Chamberlains work in Marfa and I found the painterly surface less interesting than the twisted automobille parts. Whereas his cut and tied foam objects were just that. I have sought to pare down and remove decoration that I felt was a distraction. 

KC: The idea of removing distractions feels as if it relates very strongly to your film piece where the centre of each frame is punched out and the photographs who have also had the focus taken away from their centres. What do you hope to open up by removing the centre of attention? 

DB: My intention is twofold. Firstly the removal of the central focal point of the image leaves a peripheral image that might include unconsidered visual experiences when the found film or photographs were taken. Secondly I like the void or blank area becoming the centre of attention. The physicality of puncturing through the super-8 film to create space within the film felt important to me. My hope is to invite incidentals or marginal zones into consideration. 

KC: And this is similar to intentions or hopes you have with the relationship and voids between the objects in the space? 

DB: Yes, the spaces between and the areas of free territory have been important for me when putting this show together. I have learnt a great deal about what not to include, about how objects might bully other objects and how pieces can be lost in space. I don't expect the relationships to be necessarily harmonious and in fact I want to invite problems between works. 

KC: We should definitely encourage people to read between the lines then.

Desmond Brett

Desmond Brett

Desmond Brett