This month’s exhibition at Stockroom includes the works of three artists; Erika Gofton, Siri Hayes, Sam Petersen (who delivered a wonderfully funny artist talk, which we featured in our last post here >.
In this post, we feature an interview that Stockroom conducted with Erika where she discusses her motivations and thoughts behind the evocative body of work entitled Liminal.
SR We are thrilled to have this exhibition of new work at Stockroom, entitled Liminal. Can you describe the body of work and explain to us the underpinning conversation you explore in these painted works?
EG The work has been developing over a number of years and has become more multi layered and more personal as I have dug deeper into the ideas and imagery. It asks the question “what if?” without providing a conclusive answer. At its heart is empathy. How we respond to another and in turn how we connect to ourselves in particular the intersubjective relationship of the maternal. The work has become a catharsis, a way to confront the discomfort and anxiety that is ever present and ever shifting, particularly the liminal state of adolescence.
I am hoping to engage the viewer in a conversation first and foremost on a visceral level. I am interested in the power an image has to communicate something beyond words and to act as a conduit or maybe even a translator between the artist and the viewer. I wish the viewer to first have almost a physical response to the work that then encourages them to engage their intellect, not the other way around. I want the work to sit somewhat precariously between the light and the dark, the beautiful and the ugly, the conspicuous and the ambiguous.
SR You mention that you confront the discomfort and anxiety around the changing adolescent. Can you explain further your personal relationship with the liminal state of that particular stage in a young persons life that is so central to your work?
EG It’s not so much about the changing adolescent themselves but more my own experience as a mother within that relationship. Adolescence has become that liminal point, the threshold into otherness. The anxiety and discomfort comes from the point of relinquishing the intersubjective relationship of total dependence and oneness instead acknowledging independence and autonomy. It is the experience of being distant yet close in the same breath. Being an observer rather than a participant. The work has enabled me to challenge the experience and question mine and their agency and changing roles within the relationship.
SR Motherhood is an important focus in your past work, how has your role as ‘mother’ changed and impacted your practice as your family has grown?
EG Talking about motherhood in relation to my work has always been tinged with apprehension and trepidation. The mere mention of the word has the potential to speak of sentimentality and immediately be dismissed as too female. I never sought to make work about motherhood but more and more I became interested in exploring the incredibly intense and sometimes polarising relationship that I was experiencing and observed in others. There was an intensity of feelings that I needed to explore and comprehend. The often contradictory feelings and anxieties that comes with the relationship continues to fascinate and confound me, so the work has been a way for me to explore it and possibly understand ‘it’ and myself better.
SR It was interesting to see you install your exhibition. Can you explain why you have decided to install the smaller works alongside the larger pieces?
EG The work has always been a conversation between the larger works and the smaller ones, so it was really important to hang the works so that conversation continued to happen. I have been making the smaller works for a long time as a way of connecting to the idea in a broader more immediate sense and in fact I had a large amount of smaller works that I didn’t hang because they didn’t participate in that conversation, or that they potentially would take the conversation in another direction. I am really interested in the relationship of the works to each other and how the spaces between the works operate. I love the rhythm that is created by the space much the way pauses in music creates space to listen.
SR Congratulations on your recent selection as finalist in the Kennedy Prize. Can you tell us about the prize and your entry in it?
EG I was really thrilled to be selected. It was a really interesting for me as there was a theme of Beauty. I tossed it up for ages as to whether to enter, because although I am endeavouring to make work that is beautiful I wasn’t sure whether it would in fact be considered so. So it was really heartening to feel that the work did in fact communicate beauty and that it could sit in that space.