Graduating in September 2014 from Chelsea MA Fine Art, Rebecca Molloy has gone from strength to strength. Tackling two residencies in one year, and exhibiting in multiple shows along the way, Rebecca’s practice has continued to develop and mature. In her own words, Rebecca describes her busy year to us.
It has been one year since you graduated – what have you been up to?
It has been a mad year! I’ve been really fortunate and been supported by generous organisations to make new work. This started off with travelling to Switzerland for the Trelex Residency at the beginning of 2015, in which I developed a series of video works.
After that I was then accepted onto an 8 month residency at the City and Guilds of London Art School. This residency finished in September 2015, and I exhibited a painting, video and sculpture installation called ‘Diet Coke Break’ which was a part of the MA students’ final show. The experience of being an artist in residence within an art school was incredibly rewarding. I was able to use the school’s facilities and really develop the research side of my practice.
It was also particularly great working alongside the MA students, especially as I’d recently gone through the MA process I was really able to connect with their work and the processes they were going through.
I also received The Elizabeth Greenshields award, and I’m developing a series of paintings for this at the moment.
How has your practice developed since graduating?
My practice has shifted quite a bit since graduating. My MA Show at Chelsea was based largely around abstraction which was executed into large scale painting installations. I started the course as a figurative painter, so it was important for me to go through the process of tearing my work apart and abstraction played a large part in this.
However, in retrospect I feel that shifting from representation to abstraction was actually quite an obvious thing to do. I realised that I’m not a ‘pure’ abstract painter, instead I use abstraction as a device within larger bodies of work to hint and suggest at the body.
Since the MA, my focus has been figuring out how I utilise abstraction but also how representation fits into my practice. In Switzerland this manifested itself as a series of videos that involved a lot of body parts interacting with objects, video screens and food materials. Having the content behind my work becoming much more visible is key to the new work, as representing the body in its broadest way is really important. This has been key to the latest installations that I’m making, as I feel that this work is really beginning to express my ideas and research more articulately.
Conceptually my practice has also developed, the research side of my practice is becoming key to developing the installations that I make. In particular I’m paying a lot more attention to the psychology of humans, as well as combining this with visual research that spans from advertising to texture and surfaces found within food.
I think this has been quite important because now my installations are centred on ideas and thinking and finding the medium that best suits the content. The work for me is more unexpected because whilst in the midst of research I’m not really sure what I’m going to come up against and this in turn gives me new ideas for making.
At the moment I’m making a giant doughnut out of papier mâché which will sit together in an installation with a painting of a man’s legs wearing socks and sandals. Both of these objects came from reading around the affect that sugar has on humans both physically and psychologically, and I hope that the final result will be a broad understanding of this subject matter.
Have you taken part in any projects/collaborations/exhibitions over the past year?
The biggest project I’ve undertaken this year has been my solo show, ‘Till Death do us Party’ at the VITRINE gallery Bermondsey Square, London. This exhibition was mostly based on the video works that I started in Switzerland –my aim was to create this space that was based on the research that I was making.
The title ‘Till Death do us Party’ enabled the work to look at the themes of death and partying. I wanted to have two sides to the exhibition, the dark, deathly and grotesque which references 80’s horror and gore movies with the fun, light and playful. So there’s a party vibe with strobes in the videos and bright pop colours, and cake decoration sprinkled on sculptures. For me there is an interesting contrast between the external presentation of our body and what’s going on internally, so I addressed that within the work.
What I loved about this show was that I don’t think anyone would look at the exhibition and read that it is about death and partying, but instead I takes snippet from both worlds and re-appropriate them, so that the installations become a space between reality and a warped version of it.
I’ve also just finished an exhibition called ‘Strobe Manoeuvre’ which was a really great painting exhibition in the dark with artists Abigail Box and Kelly Sweeney. We illuminated the space with a strobe, so the viewing experience was interrupted and chaotic. I loved seeing our work in this way, and it’s an exhibition that we’d like to travel with as well.
How did you find the Summer Show experience last year?
Intense! It was a pretty hectic time, and I was very conscious of putting on a good show that summarised the developments over the year, so I think in the lead up I was feeling panicked and worried about whether I’d be able to pull it off.
It was quite scary because my work had changed so much, I was still trying to figure out what it all meant. Looking back now, I am only just starting to fit all the pieces together, and beginning to understand how my practice has developed and what the key elements are.
It was incredibly exciting, and right towards the end I began to feel more zen about it, as I realised that it was just the beginning and there was so much more to explore within my practice. I like that it didn’t really feel like a finishing school, instead this whole new way of working had opened up to me.
Is there any advice you would like to give to our current or prospective MA Fine Art students?
Don’t panic! It’s definitely easier said than done, but in my experience once the MA had finished was that I started to let go of all of my worries about not being sure about my practice and not really understanding it. I’m not concerned with this anymore, and I think allowing things to just happen means that you will make work that’s more exciting.
It’s important to get to a place where you just trust yourself and to really go with your instinct. If you work hard and are engaged with your practice, there’s nothing too much to worry about, things have a way of sorting themselves out. I try and have that approach with installations now. In a way it can be kind of scary to not know how something is going to work until the final process of installing, but to me that’s really exhilarating.
Also, don’t feel like you need to show everything. Try and be more refined and let the install process play a large factor in your work. You have to remember that people seeing your work don’t need to know everything, and perhaps instead show something more concise and potent. Curation is incredibly important to the flow of the show, so be sure to work closely with others and have fun.
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