Final year BA Sculpture student Josh Philpott, from Birmingham, is preparing for his Summer Show, Saturday 18-Saturday 25 June. He took time out to answer a few of our questions and tell us about his work and time at Camberwell.
Can you please describe your practice:
I’m looking at everyday absurdities and banalities of the built environment, you see objects like the parking kerb or the bollard, and much smaller things like the skateboard-stopper lining walls or benches. They do their job by doing nothing but take up space, dictating how to act in that space; directive architectures of the city. By copying them, de-contextualising them, obfuscating them with added language or altering their shape, I’m trying to observe the absurdities and poetics of mundane constructed situations.
What are you currently working on?
My plan is for three pieces to go in the Summer Degree Show: a curved parking kerb and a parking kerb 18 feet long with a sentence along its side will sit on the main sculpture studio floor, meanwhile a whole bunch of skate-stoppers will line the whole length of the studio window sill. It’s a culmination of what I’ve been doing this year looking at directive architecture, bigger and better, etc. (except the skate-stoppers, which are smaller but more abundant). It’s all plaster cast, which I’ve been working with all year, but I’m still getting a grasp of it. I’m casting unusual things; me and Becky, the wonderful and long-suffering casting technician, and now Hannah, a first year student, are helping me and we keep having to come up with solutions on the fly.
How has studying at Camberwell informed or influenced your art practice?
Hugely; I wasn’t a maker when I first came to Camberwell, I was scared to use the workshops and intimidated by everything. Now I’m cutting letters out of wood with jigsaws to put into big slabs of plaster on the floor and it’s great. More than just learning skills though, I’m happier and more confident than I’ve ever been, which alone is worth three years of study and making.
Do you have an artist influence?
I think the band Swans and comedian Stewart Lee have had a big influence on me lately, they both have a bleak, deconstructive sense of humour which has informed my work. Amalia Ulman and Jon Rafman’s work about the artifice of online space as a mirror of the artifice of reality interests me, with it being deconstructive and kind of bleak. Lawrence Weiner taught me poetry can be sculpture and vice versa and I’ve kind of just carried on from there really.
What are you future plans?
Panic, and then I’d like to find a studio space to carry on working and, obviously, a job to sustain it. I like the idea of taking a residency in Scotland or somewhere in the countryside, away from familiar city life for a bit, see how it changes my work. I’d also like to do an MA, but I think I’ll take a year out first.
Can you recommend an exhibition must-see?
Fellow Sculptor Melloney Harvey was shortlisted to exhibit at Baltic 39 in Newcastle this summer, so definitely go to that. She’ll have lots of concrete finials with fruit on at the degree show, including one that goes from floor to ceiling, it’s beautiful and absurd.
Tell us a bit about the preparations for your Summer Show?
“Go big or go home!” has been Bethan Wilkins’ mantra all year (final year BA Sculpture student), and the studio’s really filling up with big stuff now! Before install we cleared out the studio and got rid of the wall covering the windows along the side, they open to a huge span to accommodate a defunct crane lift that comes out the side of the building. The builders working on the flats opposite have reached the same level as us now, sometimes we shout across and say hi, exchange expletives, throw Mell’s fruit at them, etc.
Do you have any advice to students looking to start BA Sculpture at Camberwell?
Enjoy yourself, get to know the workshops, make first and think later then go from there, buy overalls or don’t wear nice clothes, come in as often as you can, don’t panic, be enthusiastic and keep an open mind, and pub every Tuesday at the Hermit’s Cave in Camberwell.
And finally, would you like people to buy ‘Duckface’, your book of Facebook statuses available on your website, and visit the Camberwell Open at Fusion Lifestyle, Artichoke Place where your showing a piece until June 18th?
Yes, that would be nice actually. I’m glad you asked so that I didn’t have to do any shameful self-promoting.