David Somers is a graduating MA Fine Art Digital online study mode student at Camberwell. Born and raised in London, he now lives in Luxembourg, which, as David describes it, is “a very small country nestled between Belgium, Germany, and France; most people drive through it on the way to somewhere more exciting.” We interviewed David just as his final show was starting.
How did you end up in Luxembourg?
Like many people, by accident! I came for a few weeks and have been here almost 20 years.
Do you have your own studio or practice?
I built my own studio in my garden about 11 years ago. I live in an environmentally protected area and it took me a year of gentle negotiation to get the necessary building permits…then nine months of back-breaking work to construct it…but it was worth it, and it has settled in nicely over the years. My view is getting greener each year as the surrounding trees grow around it.
Please tell us a bit about your background and how you came to study at Camberwell?
I had been looking to do a Masters and had narrowed down to a list of three or four but the MA Fine Art Digital at Camberwell really stood out. For me, the appeal was that it was online, so I could combine it with work, and there was a low-residency for some real-life contact.
Can you please describe your art/design practice:
I take contemporary post-colonial theory, but instead of applying its concepts to community structures, I apply them to a visual world: cultural interactions in a society are alluded to by figure-to-figure interactions in a pictorial space. The result is a simple but complex conceptual representation. My artworks nominally bisect the visual space into chromatic planes, and their interaction results in a third space that may intimate either to a transcending greatness, understood within systems theory as how the sum may be greater than its parts, or to a deepening separation, understood within a zero-sum game as how one person’s gain is equivalent to another person’s loss. Given contemporary political and social events my art offers an opportunity for critical observation.
What are you currently working on?
My more recent work has involved making many small marbling works on paper. Repetition of the making process is a key component; producing ‘the same but different’. There is an element of control, a repeatable method, but the result is far from predictable; some of the more interesting things have happened when things did not go as predicted.
The result of this is reflected in my final show exhibit ‘_configuration three_’, consisting of 225 works arranged in an acrylic framing system that I designed. Each piece floats in the frame and you get a sense of the dimensionality of the work at a micro-viewpoint and also at a meso-viewpoint, where I am layering the inherent visual tones to create a complex visual chord. Enlarging these marbling pieces brings a new perspective to them (even though the depth is flattened), and this is reflected in my other piece, ‘_configuration four_’, a set of five giclée enlargements each of which highlights different aspects of hybridity.
How has studying at Camberwell informed or influenced your art/design practice?
On a very fundamental level it provided me time and space to explore. It is a very nurturing environment, and the small size of the cohort means everybody soon becomes very familiar with each other’s work, the discussions and critiques are invaluable. When I started the MA I had no preconceived ideas of what or even how I wanted to make art. Now, I have a very solid foundation from which to work.
What are you future plans?
I have been thinking of taking my current work forward as part of a practice-based PhD.
Have you had any highlights while studying at Camberwell?
There have been two highlights. Firstly the low-residency, this takes place every February and runs for two weeks. I was unable to attend this year, but last year I was able to attend for a week. It is such an intense experience and everybody comes away invigorated and with new ideas. Everyone is amazed by how Jonathan Kearney, the course leader, manages to schedule everything and keep going throughout this period. Secondly the year-end show, when you look at what the cohort did last year for their interim show and now see what they’ve done for their final show, it is exciting to see the evolution.
Do you have an artist influence?
Minimalism, abstraction, colour theory, system theory, game theory, and a dash of contemporary post-colonial theory.
Can you recommend an exhibition must-see?
I won’t recommend anything specific, but will say go and see as much as you can. Actually, go see things that you might not think are your thing, because you never know what you might discover!
And finally, do you have any advice to students looking to start MA Fine Art Digital at Camberwell?
Do it! There will be times when you’ll be lost, times when you’ll make great discoveries, and although two years seems like a long time, it will pass too quickly. Above all, enjoy yourself and make great art!