Jonny Winter: The title for your show, ‘From catapults’, suggests a great distance from here or a sense of the far-flung. How would you like this sense of a man-made far away to play a role in your installation?
Bess Shipside: That sounds like a city where it is easy to predict the elements of the man-made object/landscape/environment. From Catapults to me implies a sense of uncontrollable man-made time to a place that is largely unknown.
JW: Before we started talking I had this idea built up of 19th century explorers landing Darwin on another planet, that sense of discovery and learning - the wonder of the unknown and our man-made perception if it. Nature-made/human-made/man-made. This new environment you have pieced into real life has such a mysterious design of discovery, what would you want people to feel from it when they enter your new world?
BS: I think I want people to feel the unexpected - to be suspended in a recognisable but unfamiliar situation, half way into the past and the future. Design of discovery is actually an appropriate term because it contradicts itself. People may look for a sort of map in the recognisable aspects of the work that are a clue to how it should be read.
JW: The colour you chose to paint the floor is such an antithesis to the established grey that it really transforms the ambience of the space, taking the reading of the objects and constructions off the recognisable gallery map. Your shapes and materials are familiar, and kind of friendly, and your colour choices cleverly harmonise. With this, and Knowing that you come from a painting background, would you say you employ a painter’s eye to how your creations react with one another, and as a whole?
BS: Definitely, the core inspirations and even the process of the work are based from and in painting, but also rise out of a frustration with the time that paintings can take. It has been possible to create a time based dynamic between the elements that make up the show, which would not be possible in painted images. Also colour has been used as a tool to help bind the show together, as a means rather than an end, it represents something other than itself.
JW: There are none of your paintings in the installation, but you have decided to include a single drawing, the outline of a semi-tropical looking bird, which is reflected in the both complete and semi-constructed origami. With both models being subtle stylised creatures are these hinting at the possibility of a living aspect inhabiting your environment, or remnants of an extinct fauna having once explored the space? Likewise the vines/rope can be seen as a symbol of untouched jungle depths, but the material itself offers a human presence – landing ships, a symbol of the interference of man.
BS: The drawing is probably the most overt reference any thing natural in the installation, but the materials used can all allude to it somehow. The use of paper and wood which is folded, coloured and manipulated all suggest the presence of man but are shown in an organic way. Is it a natural or a man made space- a site that has been left and overgrown or newly interfered with? Questions like this help ‘grow’ the work and are present in the finished whole.
JW: You have said that you don’t consider yourself a sculptor at all. With that in mind, what is your approach to using materials in what is a very sculptural, or material way?
BS: I see the materials in a very flat sort of way and they are collaged together to build up something that is a whole rather than single sculptural piece’s, though they can be viewed seperatley. The process is like building a postcard scene with pre-determined elements.