Wimbledon College of Arts Costume Design Alumni, Chloe Roach, launches Salt and Pegrams Series of Art Exhibitions.
Chloe Roach invites us to explore a world where the uncanny and sometimes frightening elements of life are embraced. Chloe is a painter, animator and costume designer, currently creating a series of paintings and textiles studying maternity and nurturing influences within her own life.
From nipple to the bottle, Chloe Roach, 2012. Acrylic on board.
Take a look at Chloe’s recent interview with magazine ‘Letters’
Chloe Roach is a 28-year-old artist living and working in east London. She has most recently exhibited at Pop-up Circus; Say it Again at Art Nouveau Brixton; and BAT Pack III at Mile End Pavilion; and will be showing at the Independent Artist’s Fair in Autumn in east London. Her next solo show will be in March 2014 at the Doomed gallery in Dalston, London. We recently sat down with her to find out what makes her tick and keeps her inspired.
Letters (L): How do you describe your art?
Chloe (C): I think my art questions the viewer’s personality and identity. It asks you whether or not you will take it seriously. Some people laugh at my work but I tend not to see that as a bad thing. If you manage to make someone laugh, more often than not you’ve touched a nerve. I really enjoy the subversion of reality. The flat repeated patterns that I frequently use behind portraits are usually more digestible than the figures themselves. My portraits are always of people I know, usually critical, which is probably why I paint myself so much. Pulling myself apart seems a much simpler process and also means I still have friends at the end of it!
L: When did you start making art?
C: I started being creative when I was a kid. Both my parents are artists and my mum, who looked after me and my three brothers, was accused of “overstimulating” us by one of my primary school teachers. Apparently I excelled at anything creative, but became fascinated by what was out of the window the moment maths or science was on the agenda. Mum and Dad tried to convince me to do something vocational, with their best effort being the encouragement of costume design instead of fine art, but even at university, I was drawing away in my room and sewing these paranoid little quilts.
L: Was there a specific impetus for your urge to create?
C: I go one step beyond the glass being half empty – most of the time I can’t even see the water in there. I think the realisation that being an adult had the potential to be really mundane was a massive drive. I remember my mum trying to force me to read adult literature at 16, and I said, “Why on earth would I want to read about reality?” Escapism is an enormous drive. I am far too polite to say what I’m thinking and am constantly seeking some sort of approval, so this [art] is my way of actually having a voice. If I was denied producing art, I think I’d have to find another escape route, probably living in the jungle, although I’m not too keen on insects.
L: What are your goals?
C: Both my long term and short term goals are survival. Obviously, every artist wants to be successful or at least live off their creativity, but you have to wise up. Being an artist is usually not particularly lucrative, so it’s essential to find other ways to get by or be creative with how you sell your art…as prints or cards for example. I live a very economic life and am always trying to save money to get by. The only things I’m fussy about are bread and wine.
L:What are you working on now?
C: At the moment, I’m working on a painting of myself and my best friend, or “the wife” as she likes to be referred to. It’s a depiction of misspent youth and apathy, with the figures conveying little enthusiasm or concern for the future. Sitting on top of a beautifully crafted, archaic cupboard surrounded by rubbish and pigeons eating KFC, they are attempting to communicate through paper cups connected by a string. I’m also trying to produce a mobile, a series of signs, a proposal for funding and sketch out card designs. As usual, I am attempting to tackle about a million things at once! The last thing I produced was a turtle fisherman card design.
Mother superior, Chloe Roach, 2012. Acrylic on board.
L: What do you find most difficult about working as an artist?
C: Money – no wonder its only rich kids studying art these days. It’s that and staying focused. All my artist friends have said the Internet is their enemy, and we’re all familiar with the journey that YouTube or a TV series can take you on, “Oh, I’ll just watch one more.” Before you know it, you’ve spent the whole day watching it and have achieved absolutely nothing apart from occasionally shouting at the screen and dribbling down your chin in anticipation of the next episode. Then a mate calls you asking if you want to go for a drink or go to a private view and you’re done. Zero productivity.
L: Do you think it’s possible to earn a living as an artist?
C: Well, painting whatever bizarre scenario pops into your head with little consideration for who’s going to buy it often can create commercial issues. I don’t have an agent, and I’m not paid by the hour, so the reward is being able to create something that really belongs to you and is truthful.
L: What do you enjoy the most about your work?
C: The most enjoyable part of the work is being able to express how you really feel. I don’t like confrontation, so my work can provide that outlet instead, being as rude or offensive as it wants to be. I can be crass or vulnerable or violent, and that’s ok. Also, I get to have dance breaks throughout a long painting session, and I find that particularly enjoyable: in that moment, I am George Michael.
L: Within the industry, what kind of hierarchy or support exists?
C: There’s so much snobbery. I sometimes think that some people enjoy barriers in art because it produces the uber-cultured and class divisions. It’s stupid really. I recently went on a night out with some other artists and its all about where you’ve studied and who you’re showing with/who you know.
L: Where are your current inspirations coming from?
C: My inspiration comes from what’s around me and usually occurs when I’m aggravated or want to reject the world. I like noticing little things… I was walking home recently and I saw a woman carrying an empty cat basket wearing sunglasses; she was crying quietly (presumably her cat had been put down). I don’t think anyone noticed her but it made me think about so many facets of life.
L: Does feminism play a role in your life or art?
C: Feminism is a tricky one. I’ve been called a misogynist on a number of occasions because of my art, so I’m not really sure where I stand on that front. I’m not a big fan of labels and often work can be taken out of context, like the photograph Richard Prince exhibited at the Tate called Spiritual America which was banned. The work pictured a 10-year-old Brooke Shields naked in a sexually provocative pose, thick with makeup. Whilst I see it as a found object, and Prince didn’t do it from scratch – it was taken from a mag I believe – the media got up in arms about it. Seems kinda ironic to me.
L: Are there any recurring themes in your work?
C: Yep. Wallpaper, animals and my good self.
L: Who are your role models? C: I have so many. Jean Michel Basquiat, John Waters, J.D. Samson, Joan Rivers… I could go on. They all affect me in different ways.
L: Do you have a muse or muses?
C: I paint both myself and Katja a lot. It’s easier when you know someone well. I’m looking to paint Lee [her partner] again soon, but we differed about the subject matter of my last idea. It’s made me think, so I’m kinda on hold with that.
L: What are you looking forward to in the rest of this year?
C: Some appreciation and more time to throw my paint brushes around
Chole Roach interview by Keely Khoury for ‘Letters’ Magazine
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for the private view on Thursday 3rd April from 6 – 10pm, featuring a performance from Central St Martins graduate Leena Chauhan.
Exhibition dates: Thursday 3rd April – Thursday 1st May.
Opening times: 9-5.30, Monday to Friday.