Artist Interview with Hannah Roach
Gallery Lane Cove, July 31st, 2020
"The main influence of my artwork is my own experiences."
A look into Hannah Roach's life as an artist.
Please introduce yourself to our (mostly) Australian readers.
I am a contemporary artist living in Manchester, UK. I have a degree in Fine Art Sculpture, and I’m interested in Urban Design. I work at a film school and I am passionate about encouraging creative education.
What are your artistic inspirations and influences?
Contemporary art research has always been a huge part of my practice. Ernesto Neto opened my eyes to exploring constructions of social space and the natural world by inviting physical interaction and sensory experience. I am inspired by how his immersive installations function as venue for interaction and meditation.
I’m inspired by the materials, scale and use of space used by Anish Kapoor. I’m influenced by his conceptual and minimal approach to sculpture by adding lyricism and metaphor. Objects can suggest an excess of emotion, yet they also stand still as in a meditative focus, I develop my own work through self-reflection.
Another great influence is Sarah Sze. She has developed a signature visual language that challenges the static nature of sculpture. Her work draws from Modernist traditions of the found object, dismantling their authority with dynamic constellations of materials that are charged with flux, transformation and fragility. Her immersive and intricate works question the value society places on objects and how objects ascribe meaning to the places and times we inhabit.
I’m influenced by Do Ho Suh who explores contemporary arrangements of space and the unstable boundaries of its categorisation along lines of individuality and collectively, physicality and immateriality, mobility and fixity.
These artists along with many others excited me to develop my contemporary practice aesthetically and conceptually. The main influence of my artwork is my own experiences.
What is the most rewarding part of the artmaking process?
By being free to allow mistakes with my artmaking, I find the process of developing concepts and ideas the most rewarding part. I often film and photograph myself working and my studios have been filled with experiments, which have included live nature, as living things are similar to art in how they grow. Where we can watch plants grow physically, humans develop psychologically based on environment and surrounding circumstances.
Although in-depth planning goes into making sculpture, I avoid having a set final product in mind, to loosen boundaries of what is expected.
The sculptures you make are quite large. Tell us about the process of putting together such a project.
The delicate interior of my sculptures has taken up to a month to build as building labyrinthine architectural models is delicate work. It's important that the interior encompasses the whole inside of the exterior as what is seen on the outside, at first glance, acts as a vault of defence, a shield, veil of protection. I have more control over building the huge wooden exterior and its created by the use of machinery, power tools and access to a workshop and material expertise.
For my site-specific installations, the choice in materials, the scale, the chosen aesthetic of ladders and the performative quality of constructing the sculptures, are all a reflection of the concepts behind the artwork.
Is there a dream location, or gallery that you’d love to make an installation for?
My dream locations that I would love to make an installation for are The Turbine Hall –Tate Modern, Venice Biennale and The Forth Plinth. My favourite place in the world is Niki De Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden in Italy and I intend to build a sculpture garden of my own one day.
Architecture is a big part of your aesthetic and subject matter. Could you explain how that came to be?
I use Architecture as an aesthetic to bring thoughts, memories and feelings, something others can’t see on first reflection of your exterior, to bring the interior into a physical form of a sculpture or drawing. Architecture is a visual we are familiar with so I create Utopian drawings and sculpture not to present a prescriptive idea of structure, but instead to create an environment within which people themselves can consider meaning and consider change.
You completed a residency in Iceland in 2017. Do you have any advice or wisdom for artists looking into doing a residency abroad?
Take advantage of where your residency is and react to the environment, culture and question and develop your thought process from what you learn artistically.
What are you looking forward to?
For the past few years, I have been working in studios and galleries that are more focused on selling artwork. I am excited, now that I have my studio at home without overlooking customers, to immerse myself in contemporary art, developing ideas without initial focus on the final result.
More about the artist