Auto Devotion


23 November - 16 December
Opening: 22 November, 6-9pm
Oscar currently lives and works in Norwich. 

A conversation between Oscar Laughridge and Sophie Purchase.

Sophie Purchase: The committee came for a studio visit in August and the work you were making then has ended up very differently to the work that’s now in the show, so I wondered whether you could talk a bit about how it developed.

Oscar Laughridge: I think when you came I had two drawings semi-finished and they were up on the wall. So there has been a change or development in the method of display, from walls to tables. I had been storing the drawings on my spare table in my studio, as I finished a drawing I would move it from one table to the next and then start another. It seems straightforward but it took the drawings collecting together on this table for me to realise that this was another option, and one I decided I preferred. I like the action of looking down at the work, bending over and zooming in.

The drawings themselves have developed in a fairly predictable way in that generally the more you do something the more proficient you get, I quite quickly got to a point where I was able to achieve a greater level of accuracy and detail. Mercifully there is a ‘detail ceiling’ already in place when drawing from low res jpegs.

SP: I was also thinking about the fact you got the images from a sort of pop-news article, supposedly depicting the most attractive university students in the UK and there was something quite funny, quite a lot of humour in there, but then the show has turned out quite stark.

OL: I wonder if you came away with that impression because I laugh a lot generally. I don’t have a problem with humour in the work but I try not to court it. I’m driven by different aspects of the work so I think it’s always likely that any humour will be consciously or unconsciously edited out somewhere along the way.

The real excitement or electricity I felt as I started making these works came from the more generic aspects of the material, them being pictures of people, young people, taken with ease from an online source. I’m pulled towards some big broad themes which is a thrilling feeling, but the challenge is to deny these themes and keep the work from being contained or engulfed by them.

SP: I wanted to ask about the title as well, because you sent a lovely rambling explanation as to why you’d called it Auto Devotion. (Laughs)

OL: Yes I feel like I’m really trying with this title. I really searched for it. It’s heartfelt. It’s vaguely poetic. Auto Devotion. On my way to work everyday I pass by a car dealership called Auto Devotion. After many months it started to feel like a viable option. When I picture these words with the work I think of picture taking, self-love, body positivity and masturbation; a denial of others, turning away from the viewer and selfish youth.

Better still is the basic connection between the titles of the individual works (Cardiff, Warwick, Glasgow) and cars, driving to and through cities. This kind of thing really sustains my interest.