Photo by Damien Frost
The BA Sculpture course at Wimbledon College of Arts fosters an enquiring and experimental approach to sculpture practice, its history and contemporary contexts.
We talked to second year Sculpture student, Tyler Pattenden about why he chose to study at Wimbledon, his artistic practice and how it has developed from his first year.
What have you enjoyed so far the most about BA Sculpture course?
I have to admit, coming into it I had a lot of anxiety about the fact that it was just a Sculpture course, I thought would restrict me in what I could make. But it’s so free within the course that there was nothing to worry about! You can develop your practice in such a multitude of different ways. Sculpture is just anything that exists in a 3D space, but that does translate into literally everything that isn’t flat. It’s been exciting to develop my practice in areas like performance and video as part of the work, which is something I didn’t do a lot of before I came here. Now, performance and the concept of the human body as a sculpture have become essential to my work.
Why did you choose to study at Wimbledon?
I chose to come here because it seemed to have a really different vibe to me. It wasn’t as clinical as other places that I visited; Wimbledon had much more of a friendly atmosphere. The campus is close enough to central London, so I have the benefits of going to galleries, but it’s far away enough that we can have our own practice. I didn’t even have an interview at Wimbledon because I got in after I had an interview for a course at Chelsea. I spoke to Sarah Woodfine, the course leader, on the phone after I was offered a place on Sculpture and she is definitely is one of the main reasons I chose to come here because she really captures everything that’s great about the course.
How would you describe your artistic practice?
My practice has changed dramatically since last year, which is really nice and fresh for me but it’s been quite hard to get into. My current practice uses gender as a medium instead of a concept. Although there is a conceptual basis to the work with gender always there in the background, I prefer to think of it more of a medium instead. I like to play with it by morphing gender roles and I like to disorientate them with the use of makeup and costume to create these strange characters and the concepts that go with them.
I like to use performance and video in my practice which are areas I’m developing at the moment, using these characters to get more of an idea of the human living body as sculpture. It delves into the realm of objectification of people and the simultaneous personification of objects. I’m also creating sculptural and other artwork which is in direct relation to the characters, so they kind of go hand in hand.
I like the idea of this 20th century German term called “Gesamtkunstwerk” which means a total, ideal work of art where all senses are being provoked. It’s something that I am really striving to do with my work.
How would you say your practice has developed from the first year to now?
It’s completely changed! I think I was bogged down in the first year with trying to be too clever and trying to do something that I thought was good instead of something I enjoyed. The process of working with a couple of the third years last year made me realise that a lot of the basis of art is enjoyment, so I just started to do what I enjoyed and had fun with it and then it started to come more naturally.
Can you talk about what your group worked on for the Unit 5 collaborative project?
Unit 5 was a really great experience for me. It was a group of five of us, so two from Sculpture and two from Painting and one from Print & Time-Based Media. We started off with a fairly direct reference point which was the ‘exquisite corpse’ which is a way of collaging ideas, so you take the head and the chest and the legs and the feet of some kind of humanoid and each person draws a different element of it. That made us think of different ways to explore collage. From there, we wanted to create an installation environment that was quite confusing, disorientating, uncomfortable, dark and very strange.
We took a lot of inspiration from the late 80s early/90s club scene and club kids. We made a club where you had to queue outside and get a stamp to go in, which was fun, and we had the performance inside. It was definitely a piece that produced a lot of different and polarising reactions, which is what we wanted. We had people coming out of the club saying “that was brilliant, that was so cool and the lights were amazing” and we had people walking out saying “this made me feel really anxious, I want to leave.” The whole experience of creating the piece was really fun! It’s something that we are still developing. In my practice, the club scene has quite a lot of influence so it was particularly relevant to my work.
Have you used many of the different workshops here and if so, what have you used them for?
I’ve used pretty much every workshop! I used metal, casting and woodwork last year, I’ve worked a lot at the Digital Media Centre and I spend a lot of time speaking to the AV store about cameras and projectors.
I think one of the best things about the way we started Sculpture in our first year was that we were inducted into every workshop, so now I feel comfortable that I can walk into any of them and feel confident that with the help of the technicians I can create what I want to create. It’s brilliant that we have that right from the get go in first year.
At the moment, a lot of the stuff I’ve been working on doesn’t really require a workshop but there definitely will be points later on in the year where I will be visiting them, especially when I am creating the big sculptural works that will go with one of the characters I am creating.
What was the experience like of applying to a different college and being offered a place at Wimbledon instead?
I think it turned out for the best because I do really enjoy myself here and I like it a lot. It was quite a surreal experience because I came to the applicant day having already accepted my place but I’d never actually been to Wimbledon, so it was kind of a shot in the dark. But because Sarah called me on the phone right after after my interview at Chelsea, I felt more at ease because I had already spoken to her about why I’d be suitable for the Sculpture course. It was a strange experience but I’m really, really glad I ended up here.
What are you most looking forward to about next term?
I’m looking forward to developing a lot of characters very quickly! I definitely want to do more public performance events, I would love to use the theatre at some point and I’d love to hire out spaces to have performances on different nights and try to film and document those.
You can see more of Tyler’s work by following him on Instagram.
Learn more about studying BA Sculpture at Wimbledon College of Arts.