Jamie Shovlin was born in Leicester, England.
He graduated from Royal College in 2003
and is represtented by Haunch of Venison.
A conversation between Jamie Shovlin and Jonathan O'Dwyer, July 2009.
Jonathan O’Dwyer: Hi Jamie, we were speaking yesterday about the titling of work. Mainly the complexities of how you do it and what it means for the work, in particular reference to some of the works you are showing at OUTPOST, which aren’t yet titled. Could you say something about your interest, if any, in the system of titling?
Jamie Shovlin: Funnily enough, between having that conversation with you and answering this question, I have titled the works. This is always a process I try to avoid for as long as I feel I can. Particularly the type of titling I’ve just attributed to the works in the gallery, which I’d describe as post-work titling – titling as a kind of afterthought. It’s easier - for me anyway - to title the works at some late-ish stage of making them. To my mind, titling should be one of two extremes; pedantic over description or significant in relation to what the work is or what it refers to. I prefer neither, to be honest.
JOD: It’d be quite worrying I suppose if the title came first. You speak about avoidance; do you think, in that case, that titling your work is important or even necessary? I mean I suppose pragmatically it is in certain cases, in terms of distinction for example…
JS: I think titles are equally important and unimportant. How many people remember a title? It’s probably more likely that someone will refer to something with a brief description of what it looks like – I do this myself when referring to older works. Simultaneously, there are people who take a title as a literalisation of what the work means or represents and this again can be both good and bad. So I guess titles are a necessary evil and some form of titling, whether published to a larger audience or something that stays inside your head, is needed. It’d probably be interesting to find out where the convention of public titling comes from?
JOD: Yes indeed it would be, I suppose historically perhaps it stemmed from description or mysticism, it isn’t something I’d ever put much thought into, except that it has become integral to art practice. I’m looking at your list of titles and it would seem that they certainly fit with the ideas you mentioned earlier, I’m interested in the titles Silent Gesture and Gesture and Silence,which describe the trainers work and fist works respectively, mainly in the ways they seem to play on each other. I suppose they’re fairly self-explanatory, but are you attempting to reinforce the ways these works may reference one another? I’m thinking of the body of work this show has come out of.
JS: I’d guess titling came out art history and scholarship - if something is documented and discussed then it has to be given a title or at least a number. The two works are intentionally linked by title. The original Silent Gesture is stolen form Tommie Smith’s eponymous autobiography so it seemed appropriate that should be attributed to his Puma shoes and the variation applied to the pair of gloved fists, which are very mute in comparison to the dazzling gold trainers.
JOD: I started to realise while I was writing that last question I was falling into that trap of over relying on the title, perhaps we should stop there before I trip myself up again…