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Jonathan Amistead

Staff Spotlight: Jonathan Armistead

Written by Eleanor Harvey
Published date 30 January 2019

We’re back with a new Staff Spotlight! This month we spoke to Jonathan Armistead, Acting Technical Coordinator for the 3D Workshops at Camberwell, who oversees all of the workshops at the college; metal, ceramics, plastic, wood and the Foundry.

In his spare time, Jonathan has his own practice, creating a wide variety of pieces. He also has a festive tradition of creating gingerbread versions of Peckham businesses. We spoke to him about his role at Camberwell, and how this tradition came about.

Before moving to London, Jonathan studied Sculpture and Ceramics at the University of Manitoba in Canada, before going on to do an MFA at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His course was mainly concept driven, allowing him to explore and experiment with a wide variety of practices. This can be seen in his own work, where he explores ways of looking at the everyday in a different way.

Jonathan Armistead's gigantic peanut sculptures, made using 3D model software

His practice outside of Camberwell is based in both digital fabrication and traditional methods. He makes 3D scans of work and then prints them, experimenting with the products of the print. One of his creations were gigantic peanut sculptures, made using 3D model software; by scanning a nut in, it was then sliced up, deconstructed and then put back together. It’s finished with a papier-mâché skin.

These giant nuts made up a series called of Wall Nuts for an exhibition in at W139 in Amsterdam. The highlight of this group exhibition was creating a cart for the curator’s, Oscar Peters rollercoaster installation, ‘This was the perfect opportunity for me to see one of my nuts in flight, as I’ve imagined the peanut being a superhero or mascot.’

Peanut wearing a cape riding a rollercoaster.

Super P-Nut

Jonathan's Super P-Nut on show at W139

You may have seen Jonathan recently in the Guardian, where his festive past-time was revealed! Jonathan and his partner make gingerbread houses out of local Peckham businesses, something they’ve been doing for the past four years.

“I make the plans in cardboard first, we bake the gingerbread together, and Oliver does most of the fine decoration. We assemble it together and then instantly whisk it off to its intended location. There’s always a risk that the proprietors won’t be in to receive it.”

They choose the businesses because they’re independent and the owners work really hard on a daily basis. The first business they re-created? The iconic Khan’s Bargains. This was followed by fish and chip shop Cod Fellas, the Middle Eastern café Persepolis, and last year, it was Cravings La Carreta. They’ve had an incredible response; one of the shops has flat-packed the house away to be brought out next year, and Cod Fellas has had the front of the gingerbread shop framed, and it is still on display.

So if you live in/around Peckham, keep a look out for next year’s creation!

Quick-fire questions:

  • Baking or building? Baking. Who has space to build in London? :)
  • Favourite artist? Couple and collaborators: Claes Oldenburg and Coojse Van Bruggen
  • Instagram or Twitter? Instagram (give him a follow: @andycakes)
  • Favourite thing about Camberwell? The variety of places to get delicious food.
  • Name one thing everyone should do at Camberwell... Visit the South London Gallery next to the college, and then have an earl grey tea gin and tonic at the Pelican.
  • Something people might not know about Camberwell… It's one of the few art colleges in London that is still in its original site.

Gallery of Jonathan's baked creations

Related links:

Follow Jonathan on Instagram

Check out his other work on his website