Isolation Interview with Angus Ogilvie
As we entered our second lockdown in the UK in November, we sent four artists an isolation interview to conduct in their studio and give us an insight into their practice. We sent each artist a disposable camera and a list of questions.
Angus Ogilvie shares what life is like in his studio in Florence, Italy. We discuss how these new circumstances have effected Angus' practice, what the art scene is like in Florence and how his world has changed since welcoming his son Gabriel.
SEAM: You are currently living in Florence. How are things? Are you managing to make much new work?
Angus Ogilvie: Things are enduring… I’ve been getting pram loads of stuff made! At the beginning of the year I was finishing up a large series of line- casting work and at the moment I’m exploring new materials, mainly clay. I brought a bag of it back from studio during the first lockdown and it’s kinda stuck.
SEAM: Did you find the move from London to Italy changed or affected your practice at all?
AO: Oh, for sure. I think every artist is affected by the things they see on a day to
day basis. For me it’s the rhythm of a place, its architecture that gets under my skin. On a pragmatic level I have come into contact with materials and processes, particularly mould making that have had a big influence in my practice. Most of my works are now modular sculptures made from cast elements.
SEAM: Can you tell us bit about the emerging art scene in Florence? Are there many young galleries there? Do you have any particular favourites?
AO: Small independent galleries are very thin on the ground here. I’d say the majority of contemporary artists are here on a short-
term residency basis and some galleries play off the back of this. Numeroventi has a really interesting program of exhibitions that looks to bring local and visiting international artists together. Manifattura Tabacchi runs a similar program for both artists and designers.
SEAM: I have seen your new line casting pieces on instagram. These look fantastic. Can you tell us how these are made and what materials you use for this type of casting?
AO: The line casting works are made by cutting a block of polystyrene using a hot wire. The two elements of the block are then reoriented to form a mould. The work is then cast in jesmonite mixed with Carrara marble sometimes adding graphite or other natural pigments. The process is somewhere between direct carving and mould making. Most recently I have been hand-pressing clay into the moulds. There is an interior to these works and this is something new for me that I’m enjoying exploring.
SEAM: Have you always made abstract sculpture?
AO: Repetition, pattern and rhythm. I think with the modular works; the simple aim is to make something more than the sum of its parts.
The work can take many forms and is stacked and restacked. It’s playful. The line casting works are more strongly related to drawing than the stack series, each cut lasts only a matter of seconds the sculptures are a fossilization of this action.
Maybe the thing that ties it all together is a sort of balancing or surrendering of control- whether that’s to a set of geometric parameters or the process of making.
SEAM: What do you listen to when you work?
AO: At the moment, Goldberg Variations. There is a piano in the studio that my friend Victor has been practising on, it’s very repetitive but he brings wine….
SEAM: You are one third of the sculpture collective BASK. How does your personal work differ from that made with the collective?
AO: It all spills over into one another.
SEAM: You have done quite a few residencies with the sculpture collective BASK. Is there one in particular that has been your favourite and why?
AO: The residency we did at Haitzer in the Basque country is never far from my mind. The studio was incredible, and we had the opportunity to visit Chillida Leku- one of the most inspiring bodies of work I have ever seen.
SEAM: Is there any artist in particular who has had an impact on you and your practice?
AO: Chillida. He talks about his sculptures being like letters in a poem and this really struck a chord with me.
SEAM: How do you find working on residences effect your work? Do you find them beneficial to your practice?
AO: During the Bask residencies, we each bring our individual studio practices to the table and so there is a lot going on, putting the lens of a different place over all of that helps tie ideas together. Once the dust has settled a few months later we meet up to make work in response. I think if a sculpture can achieve having a sense of place it’s normally quite successful.
SEAM: Thinking of your work outside of the gallery, where would you most like to work or who with? Be it a residency, company or space to exhibit in?
AO: It would be amazing to have the opportunity to work on some large-scale ceramics so getting access to an industrial kiln would be exciting.
SEAM: What has inspired you most recently? Be it a film, book, quote or person.
AO: ‘Rome was built of clay so that one day it will be a mountain again.’ Emperor Hadrian