Artist Takeover- Abi Charlesworth

By The Black Box


Due to the venue being temporarily closed, not only can we not have amazing shows & events but we are also unable to have our regular exhibitions in The Green Room. In response, we have moved our exhibitions online and will feature each monthly artist on our website and social media including an Instagram takeover on our account (@theblackboxbelfast)

Exhibition details here-

This April we have been so thrilled to have Abi Charlesworth.

Abi Charlesworth is a sculpture and installation artist who graduated from her BA
(hons) Fine Art course at Bath School of Art and Design in 2019. She has recently
had work in the shows After Hours in London, Dance First Think Later at General
Practice in Lincoln and completed an online residency with Arcade Campfa as part
of the collaborative MASH.

Thank you, Abi, for being one of our online exhibiting artists and sharing your beautiful work with us. And here is a mini-interview/blog from them!

What’s your background?

I’m originally from North Yorkshire and attended Leeds College of Art for my foundation. I then went on to graduate from a BA(hons) Fine Art course at Bath School of Art and Design in 2019 and have remained in the area building a community of artists around me. At the moment I work sporadically making art, sometimes with months off while work is full time or the studio is closed, but I always return back to making.

Are there key themes in your work?

Currently my practice is circulating around the idea of play and the structures we allow for play with a material focus. I translate objects and shapes from my research in this area into sculptures that become installations. I always try to strike the right balance between the image of the object and material translation of what that object could be. I like to push more the materiality side and allow the objects to take on a new shape. My practice is a reflection of the objects and places I encounter in my life and this all feeds into the making process.

What are they, how do you explore them?

During lockdown I have been researching playgrounds and documenting the details and structures of these frames of play. I have also been photographing material combinations and colours that I come across in the everyday. These references allow me to digest the imagery into something new as a form of drawing which then becomes three dimensional. I have also installed work back into play spaces such as an empty lido and I really enjoyed the effect this had.

How has your practice developed or changed over time?

Naturally I feel my work changes with each new piece of work and if I spend too long thinking about the work it can die in my head without getting made. This time last year I had a hard look at what my work was doing and where it was going. I decided to take my practice back to the works Without Folding and Artificial Islands and restart from there. I found I’d been tilting too far towards the objects image against the material and I wanted to investigate materiality in terms of objects again. Using a material focus I’ve been able to return back to that point.

What work or processes do you most enjoying doing?

I really enjoy the labour involved in casting such as: mould making, mixing materials, sanding and installing the work. The making is really important, but most recently I have really enjoyed the installation and documentation part of my practice. It brings a form of finality to the work that allows me to move on.

Who or what are your biggest influences?

I take inspiration from a variety of sources including artists, but also objects and materials. I love to browse hardware stores, fabric shops, scrap stores and skips. I tend to collect materials and hopefully find a use for them. Artist wise I am constantly motivated and inspired by artists I am friends with and have followed on instagram for while. I love to hear about their practice and their work while nurturing a two way supportive relationship. I would highly recommend checking out these emerging artists Will Hughes, Kelsey Cruz-Martin, Charlotte Guerard, George Coll, Jody Mulvey, Sebastian Sochan, Pippa Eason and Gwenllian Davenport.

Have you had any responses to your work that were particularly memorable, or not what you expected?

In my second year at university I was in a group show where I installed a cast stack of coins laid on the floor in the work Stacked. Throughout the private view the work was getting stood on. I found this a really interesting interaction and it made me realise that other people don’t see the details and the floor in the same way I do and it sparked an interest in the potential of navigating a viewer.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

It would probably have to be one of my tutors at uni, Kate Squires. She is always so supportive and encourages you to think around the work differently. I remember when she said ‘to use the floor as the wall and the wall as the floor’ and it completely changed my perspective of where sculpture can exist.

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