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Interview with Artist, Bruce Ingram

26 October 2012 | Emma Wright

Bruce Ingram (b.1981, Falmouth) lives and works in London, creating collaged paintings and assembled sculptures. His latest show is inspired by Ikebana- the Japanese art of flower arranging- and is a feat of editing, selection, and arrangement.

LC: What is a typical day like for you?

BI: A good typical day would be getting up early, riding my bike along the canal that connects my home in Dalston and my studio in Hackney Wick, and working through the morning and into the afternoon. I like to listen to particular radio shows and I break up the day with cups of tea with my artist neighbours. Leaving the studio for a beer would also be a good end to a working day.

LC: What is your definition of being a successful artist?

BI:  I think success can be defined as having the financial independence and stability to be able to make purely creative decisions.

LC: Do you believe that to succeed commercially it is necessary to create a sense of celebrity or brand around yourself, or else compromise creatively?

BI: I like to think the artwork should stand-alone by itself. Of course the artist behind the work is interesting, but to attach a personality or persona to authorise its authenticity is problematic.

LC: Which parts of London do you find most inspiring?

BI:  As the gallery is located on Bermondsey Street, I am really enjoying exploring the area. Bermondsey Street has a great mix of restaurants and shops. The long narrow street and high period buildings means it has a nice Dickensian feel, and it’s an easy walk to the river or London Bridge. I also love Lamb Conduit Street and Redchurch Street for the mix of shops and galleries. The industrial area around my studio is also inspiring for a more bleak and desolate atmosphere.

LC: What’s the best exhibition/ gallery you’ve been to lately, aside from your own/ the Vitrine?

BI: The current FOS show at Max Wigram on Bond Street struck a chord. I also enjoyed the Luke Rudolf paintings at Kate McGarry, and I loved the work of this year’s Converse/Dazed prize winner at the Whitechapel- Samara Scott. I’m looking forward to visiting the Franz West show at the Gagosian.

LC: How has your work evolved over the years?

BI:  A couple of years ago I was making work that represented existing objects, it consisted of a mixture of found objects and collaged imagery that referenced history, culture and geography. I felt the body of work produced had exhausted itself and I wanted to establish a way of working which would allow a more fluid approach to making art. I have always worked with collage and found images; the current work retains these themes, but has progressed into an abstracted form, a framework that I will continue to follow.

LC: How/ when did you develop an interest in Ikebana and can you tell us a little about it?

BI: I buy lots of books from charity shops and second-hand outlets. I started buying ‘how to‘ style books on flower arranging and ‘Ikebana’, the images were really inspiring, I love the exaggerated and graceful compositions, the flower arrangements struck me to be very sculptural. I have continued to explore these themes within my sculptures and collages.

LC: Do you practice Ikebana yourself?

BI: No, I would be curious to try. I obviously love flowers and natural materials; there is something appealing about making a beautiful moment that will fade away. I would love the opportunity to work with natural materials or flowers in the future.

LC: Which artists do you most relate to or admire?

BI: I am particularly interested in artists from the St.Ives School, such as Ben Nicolson and Peter Lanyon. Also; Kurt Schwitters, Brancusi, Frank Stella and Alexander Calderare all-time favourites that I continue to enjoy exploring and revisiting.

LC: How do you feel about the art education system?

BI: I have done many years of it! I am glad I took my MA when I did (2008), as I wouldn’t spend the money on it now that universities have to demand. The courses do not offer value for money. I also think there are too many art courses, with too many students on the courses. A lot of courses do not appear to offer much in terms of structured learning, and students leave with little skill relating to working as a professional artist.

LC: You have been an artist in residence at Kyoto and Loughborough Universities- what does this involve?

BI: My three-month trip to Japan was an opportunity for cultural research- a great, funded opportunity to discover a country and have the luxury of making artwork. I started looking at Ikebana in a more in-depth way during this residency, and have re-approached the subject matter for the show at Vitrine

LC: The art industry is notoriously difficult to crack. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

BI: Enjoy experimentation and risk taking in your work. Also, be honest and make work that is true to yourself: the most interesting work reflects something personal about the artist.

 

Bruce’s solo show at the Vitrine, Bermondsey Street is entitled ‘Arrangements’ and centres around three works of Ikebana inspired sculpture and collage. Visit between 27th October and 25th November.

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