On entering the gallery, the visitor sees a number of pieces of wooden furniture, all obviously hand-made and idiosyncratic: a set of plywood cylinders which might be seating, or for storage, or both; some old doors refashioned as benches; a fridge stocked with milk and with a kettle and tea bags ontop; and on the wall to the left, a wide rectangle of blackboard paint which is functioning as a calendar and gradually filling up with events which will take place during the show.
Mark Wilsher & RJ Hinrichsen: It's still a few weeks before the exhibition opens, so could you tell us what someone might expect to encounter on walking in?
Kaavous Clayton: I'm making 16 objects from 4 sheets of 18 millimetre birch ply. I've described the objects as a "Russian Doll" set of hollow drums. They can be used for containing or display (I include the action of sitting as a kind of display) or both. I'm also making a door that folds into a bench. Martino is making something for the exhibition as well but I'm not sure what it is. I'm hoping that it will be something that can be used in a social setting as this is what we discussed when we first met. The fact that I don't know what he is making is part of the idea of meeting him. Part of the exhibition structure is that the space is available for people to use for free. I hope that people will encounter other people and interact with them.
MW&RJH: It sounds like you are happy to allow a high degree of randomness or chance to enter into the situation?
KC: Meeting someone always has an element of chance to it and for me that's what makes it exciting. You never know what someone is going to do or say. The element of risk that's involved for all will hopefully give the experience some edge.
MW&RJH: The various furniture/sculpture elements that you have produced and are introducing to this social situation will be an ambient sign of your presence as the exhibition's author in some sense. Are they attempts to assert control? You obviously had something in mind when you came up with these rather unusual designs?
KC: Perhaps order rather than control. The furniture/sculpture emerged from thoughts about economy, methods of production and manufacture and the idea of modular or repeated items. In some ways the show is a test to see if the objects can work as furniture and sculpture or if one aspect becomes more dominant. I'm interested in where and how the crossover happens and whether an object can comfortably exist with that duality of purpose.
MW&RJH: Could you say something about the differences in emphasis between your practice and that of Martino Gamper, who operates more from within the confines of product design?
KC: Objects I make have often been quite "rough and ready" but I've always had a desire to make them slicker and cleaner whilst still retaining energy and excitement. I think that maybe Martino has achieved that with some of his designs. His work can have an element of danger to it that gives the user a greater sense of being alive. I wanted to meet Martino because of the similarities I see between our work but maybe it's the differences that are more important.
MW&RJH: Since Nicolas Bourriaud’s “Relational Aesthetics” was published in 1992, it seems that the convivial art event has become somewhat ubiquitous. We wanted to say something about the sense of authenticity that comes through in your project, by drawing comparisons to the earlier and altogether less cynical form of socially engaged work of Gordon Matta-Clark. Alongside a background in architecture and your legendary culinary events at private views, perhaps the most meaningful association we can make between you is as figures within the art world, and most of all your position as a catalyst for art in Norwich.
KC: That's very kind of you. I try not to think too much about how what I do might fit with others’ ideas or senses of what is happening as I like to have my own thoughts and understandings. This can probably be seen as a naive or wilfully belligerent approach but maybe that's where the sense of authenticity comes from (perhaps the highest compliment you could have given). I'd just like to add that I'll be making a bench to be attached to a site in Norwich for anyone to use. I'm not sure if this is part of the show or not. It feels like a good counter to the social aspect and maybe anyone who doesn't want to join in can go and sit there on their own.