Interview with Liz Rochford about her plaster pieces for her final show
There is one day left of Wimbledon’s Summer Show 2018, final year BA Print and Time-Based Media (PTBM) student Liz Rochford spoke to us about her final piece for this show and her time at Wimbledon.
Please tell us a bit about your background and how you came to study at Wimbledon?
I have always been interested in art as a practice, I’ve always been good at it. I went to a school in Dartford but instead of doing A Levels I went on to do a Fine Art Level 3 Diploma at North West Kent College. I started my degree quite young because I didn’t do a foundation year. I was looking mainly in London for universities because I think it is such a buzzing city for the art world. There are so many galleries, pop up galleries like in Peckham, and I think there are so many opportunities to get involved in. Considering I was already from London, I thought it was silly to leave. I applied for Fine Art courses to both UAL colleges Wimbledon and Camberwell, The Slade School of Fine Art, Goldsmiths University of London and University of Westminster. I got an interview at Goldsmiths, but when I went there I decided the course didn’t seem like it fitted me. When I came to Wimbledon I felt so much more comfortable, just because of the size of the campus being a lot smaller, and everyone being so friendly and supportive. My practice back then was a lot more photography and collage so the fact that Wimbledon offered this specific course that was for video art, sound art and photography was unlike any other courses I had found. I was really happy to get a place here.
Please tell us about your current practice:
My practice has changed with every project I’ve done. As I said, when I started I was more into photography and collage, I then quite quickly moved onto screen printing and using the printing facilities. In first year I was doing a lot of screen printing on acetate and working with lights. I made little acrylic cubes and shined light through them. In second year I was all about plaster and dirt, I decided that all my work was about dirt. I made a video where it was me and my house mate covering ourselves in clay, mud and human hair. I shot that over a sculpture I made of wood, fabric and plaster. After that I moved into more rubbery materials and made resin cubes – which is really dangerous! I was in search of a clear material, this is when I moved into silicone rubber and liquid latex, making floppy sculptures. My work started to become very geometric. Silicone is expensive and I really like it as a material, but unless you have accurate casts, silicone is very difficult to get it in the shape you want. My style of working is quite fast paced, I do each piece quite quickly. I don’t want to spend too much time on something because then I find half the concept is gone. I like materials, so I went back to plaster and I’ve been working on stretched canvas, dripping the plaster onto the canvas, keeping it in its liquid form so it dries up drippy. Mainly I like working with liquids that solidify. All my work has been heavily conceptual, I have always explored the same thing which is the human relationship towards art and the question, “what is art?”. The medium comes after, it’s more about my response to the research. I do really like just playing around with found materials.
Please tell us about your final pieces for the summer show:
In my interim show, my work was still heavily silicone sculptures that were quite small and I put them together as part of an installation. It went quite well, but seeing it there in front of me it wasn’t how I planned it in my mind, I realised I wanted to go bigger. I cut down on costs by buying plaster instead and immediately went to wood work and made a 1 metre square cube, which is the main sculpture that will be at the show. Much like you would for a painting, I stretched canvas on three sides of the cube, the top and the front sides I have left them to sag, which has a resemblance of a chair. A lot of my work resembles chairs, which is just another element that links to my concept on human behaviour, the idea of “where there is a chair, there is a person”.
The plaster comes in after, I have been pouring it onto the chair structure and I treat the plaster as if it were paint. There are some stretched canvases that are dipped in the plaster and then a lot of staining with coffee. My work in the show doesn’t have a lot of colour to it, it’s very minimalist, so I started looking at the minimalist movement, relating to it and then also disagreeing with it, which lead me to look at the satire of the minimalist movement. Reflecting on the idea of how funny and pretentious art can be. It will be a painting and sculptural installation, there will be a few bits on show at the degree show.
Do you have a show must-see?
There is a girl called Christina, she was in one of my exhibitions and she is a painter, but she paints with coloured resin, so with my big obsession with liquids that turn into solids I am really excited to see her work. I think there is going to be loads of good stuff this year.
Is there a favourite project or piece of work that you completed while at Wimbledon?
The pinnacle point was curating the Stain exhibition, it was at ‘Asylum-Maverick Projects’ in Peckham. They are rooms that you can rent out for weddings or exhibitions, they are left quite derelict, but I liked the aesthetic of them. Even though there were doubts when we were setting up and not being able to hang things on the walls, and because there were all these chairs, we managed to use them and some people integrated the chairs into their work. Quite ironically a lot of my work is about chairs. That was definitely the pinnacle for me because it wasn’t until the turn out on the night that it felt really professional and I won a prize for the event!
How have your tutors or technicians added/assisted or influenced you in your final show?
Pretty much all the tutors I have had in PTBM have been amazing, down to earth and really understanding, they all have their own references. One tutor who really helped me was Rosie Potter, she mainly deals with first year students. She hasn’t been my direct tutor for two years now, but she still remembers my name and my work really well. In first year she opened so many windows for me by suggesting that I play with all these different materials and to be a bit more daring. In the time that I was very nervous and quite young on the course, she made me feel very comfortable. Without her references and her encouraging me the way she did, I probably wouldn’t have experimented in the way that I did.
There is a new tutor called Helena Goldwather who came over from Central Saint Martins, she had a really hard job coming in just before the degree show, not knowing anyone, but she is amazing, really down to earth and she holds little talks with all of us. It feels like she has been here the whole time.
What are you plans after you leave Wimbledon?
There is a programme within this course which is called Personal and Professional Development (PPD) where you can put up your own exhibition or help another artist. I put on an exhibition in my second year during PPD. I curated an exhibition with 25 other artists and it went really well so I then went on to curate another exhibition, one with a live music venue, so I coordinated all the bands and the artists. I never thought I was bothered enough to organise anything like this, I didn’t think that was my area. I realised I am actually quite good at it, organising events and approaching people, pulling people together, I loved it. I think I might do a masters in curating, while staying in touch with my practice and my love for materials.
Do you have an artist influence?
My favourite artist is probably Thomas Ruff, he is a photographer. He does so many different things, with regards to concept, he has so many different series, so frequently, no matter what I am researching he always seems to prop up. He had an exhibition recently at the Whitechapel that was amazing. I also really like Roni Horn, she’s a sculptor. She uses resin and makes these big resin drums and she used to do a lot of photography in Iceland. I also look a lot at Duchamp, he was a pioneer in asking that question, what is art?