By Hannah Pratt
How to begin? We are all so busy these days (I, for one, rarely have the time to remember to drink the cup of tea I made for myself three hours ago). However this is always overcome by the thoughts of “what’s the alternative?” and — as you might have guessed — “what is the point?” Why do you do it? It is virtually impossible for one to answer that, even with such dazzling wit as mine. The answer is quite simply that I have no choice; none at all.
During his fantastic and hilarious Reith lecture speech in 2013, Grayson Perry clarified that, for him, not making work was depressing. This deeply resonated with me. I had just started practising my work again after leaving art school in 2010. I had lost my drive and it was only with the (desperately needed) help, support and encouragement of a friend that I was able to start anew. I will remain forever grateful to her, as she enabled me to get in touch with my own passions and interests. This endeavour has become ultimately far more fulfilling than creating work merely to impress tutors with too many letters at the end of their name who forever seem entirely indifferent about your process/art.
This is also when I turned to the driving force of my imagination: Science. Since my brain is inextricably attracted to these narratives, I was drawn to exploring the artistic possibilities of science fiction. These stories and ideologies shaped both my childhood and my adulthood. Over the following months, and indeed years, I delved into the world of various science fiction classics in literature such as the “Time Machine” by HG Wells. This research took me towards the larger world of scientific history and contemporary scientific theories including computer science and grand unifying theory. Of course, having absorbed all of these ideas and concepts, I have to figure out how to communicate and explore them through my art work, which was no easy undertaking.
Geometry has always been a passion of mine. It had always been a huge part of my work but only in design-based capacity to map the process of my art. As my understanding of this technique increased, so did the complexity of the work I was creating. Additionally, my quest to create symmetry within the complex bodies of work I was producing became slightly obsessive and this obsession was a narrative for my own self-growth. The way in which I create my work can lend itself to an obsession, which can result in an inability to sleep, frequently working until the early hours of the morning. My work and process are very self-contained and therefore I rarely work with other artists. This isn’t because I am antisocial, or unwilling to collaborate but quite simply I work best alone. Unfortunately, this can be a catch-22 situation as I also find that input from other artists, in a similar situation to me, is often invaluable. This is why I am part of What is the Point?: being part of this group feels right and the collaborative spirit among the group is something I find extremely useful.
The world of emerging artists is all too often clouded by such establishments (claiming themselves to be art galleries and art fairs) who charge an indecent fare for gallery space while simultaneously demanding a ransom in commission on top. I have been a part of these shows and fairs, people profess to want to spread the word about “emerging artists”. Ultimately you find yourself in a poorly curated and overcrowded group show, with no correlation between individual artists’ work. I have never sold anything at these shows and quickly learned not be a part of them.
Since working with WITP? I have created some art that I am immensely proud of, particularly the commissioned painting for the Mall Galleries show in 2015 entitled “Don’t Panic”. This piece was inspired by both Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” as well as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. These two subjects seem very far removed from each other, but in fact (in my imagination) they are remarkably similar. Both subjects try unpick the meaning of life, the universe and everything. The project at CERN may not be as simple as “42” but in my mind they are inexplicably linked.
In short (actually not so short) I am so glad I was put in touch with Kate and her team as the experience has been so fulfilling and I eagerly await the future as part of this collective.