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Central Saint Martins

Woman holding large textile sculpture

Foundation: Lottie Bentham

Written by Teleri Lloyd-Jones
Published date 25 April 2019

As we celebrate the 2019 Foundation Show, we talk to students about their year, their work and their future plans.

Can you introduce your final project?

I was thinking about John and Jane Doe [a generic name for unidentified people] – the neutral body, the blank body. So, the project is called Becoming John and Jane. I wanted to see if we can put ourselves into someone else; could we experience a different life? Could we think through a different body?

You’re exhibiting work in both the Lethaby Gallery and Waterlow Park. Talk us through the Park piece.

The project feels like one big work-in-progress. For the Park I’ve made three bodies. I was interested in making the least amount of human I can offer to an audience but they still recognise it as person, a body. I’m trying really hard not to represent anything; what the audience gives back is the most important thing.

A couple of them have thinking caps that people can put on to think someone else’s thoughts entirely. I can offer the audience this completely blank thing and whatever they think is the right answer. Whatever people do, it’s good.

The three sculptures sit on park benches and I’m going to sit with them. I don’t want it to be intimidating. I want it to be light-hearted, not too serious.

Gallery

And in the Lethaby Gallery?

That’s a massive painting of a bat-moth-person. For this project I knew that new wasn’t right. I wanted to do everything recycled. I wanted every part of the work to come from someone else. The paintings came from frames I found outside someone’s house. I started carrying them and then a man shouted to me if I wanted to borrow his trolley. People kept talking to me. It started conversations.

For the bodies in the park, I used old curtains, tights and someone’s pants I found left in the dryer. John and Jane Doe have a lot of memories, a lot of life behind them.

Was that a sustainability decision?

Not at the beginning, but definitely now.

What have been your inspirations for this project?

Ballet Rambert and Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. That Swan Lake is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Beyond them being amazing dancers, I could hear them breathe and see their bare feet squelch around. That’s nuts. Them moving as a chorus. Sometimes I think I’m making my own performers, as though these sculptures are parts of my company.

How has your Foundation year been?

Really fast but good. Before I started on Foundation I didn’t know what a concept was. I didn’t know what meaning was. I’ve changed so much in this year, it’s been a year about thinking. I’ve always worked, I’ve drawn forever. I’m severely dyslexic and so always did art at school. But I’ve never really thought about it before, that sounds weird, I know. I’d write or draw something because it was funny but I wasn’t really thinking about it.

I’ve got more confidence now. I can speak about my work and have something to say. Before I would just say that it meant nothing. Now I know that it does mean something.

Lottie Bentham is returning to Central Saint Martins in September to study BA Fine Art.

This year the Central Saint Martins Foundation Show – on public show 26-28 April – reaches further than ever before with two sites: one inside at the Lethaby Gallery in King’s Cross and the other outside at Waterlow Park in Archway.

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