It’s pretty interesting to me how, as an Artist I’m always looking for new ways to transform one dimension into another in a multi-dimensional fashion. I find it quite cheeky because really, if God wanted sound to be visual I guess she’d have made it just that yet the interconnectedness of all things fascinates me and compels me to want to share. One such example, whether by human consciousness or universal intelligence, occurred on the 25th of May at a gallery in The Tabernacle in west London.
Artists Emma Mudgway and Alexia Villard created an exhibition of their thoughts and experiences working within the legendary building in a way that can only be described as ‘Personal’.
I met Emma Mudgway (one half of the expression) in Queensway, west London, on a fine, sunny, Thursday afternoon. I asked Emma…
UDL • Is this your first exhibition in London?
Emma • Yes
UDL • Where else have you displayed your work?
Emma • I’m from New Zealand and have exhibited there. If you are interested in my exhibition history it can be found on my website.
We did precisely that. Emma has exhibited at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, Toi Poneke Arts Centre, Wellington, NZ and Expressions Arts and Entertainment Centre in Upper Hutt, NZ.
UDL • Has Alexia had any in London?
Emma • Yes she has…
Alexia has previously worked on projects such as Cinema du reel Festival, Paris Cinema Festival, Cannes festival, Feast Festival and National Portrait Gallery.
UDL • Is this the first time you’ve done a joint exhibition?
Emma • With Alexia, yes it is. We met in Canada on an artist residency. I was on my way to London, and Alexia was already based here. We kept in touch, ended up working together at the Tabernacle, and often found ourselves sitting around Alexia’s Kitchen Table discussing our work. That’s how the Kitchen Table Collective was formed, and how we ended up exhibiting together.
UDL • What are your feelings about working together with somebody else?
Emma • It pushes you to think differently. You make decisions about your own work that you may not have otherwise made which to me is interesting.
UDL • I know that Alexia is not here but do you think her experience of it is similar?
Emma takes off her shades, it seems this question requires some concentration.
Emma • I don’t know we haven’t really spoke about it yet, so I don’t really feel that’s something I can comment on.
After trying to answer, a sensitive Emma apologetically replied in the best way she could with a very caring consciousness to not misrepresent the absent artist’s viewpoint.
UDL • I understand. So what is the exhibition about in your own words?
Emma • Our idea for the exhibition was always to do something that related to the space. There are many stories that could be told about the building, its history, and the unique place it holds within the community. We began by looking back at archives from the building, and in the meantime we were collecting little bits and pieces from the restaurant. Alexia collected food tickets and handwritten notes, and I worked from the architectural plans of the building. We were paying attention to the conversations we were having with staff and customers. It grew to be an archive of sorts, of our interactions as servers.
UDL • Were your expectations met from the exhibition, if you had any at all?
Emma • I don’t think I really had any, because I was so busy right up to the exhibition with the work, and with some other important things that needed to be sorted out in my life. I didn’t have time to form any expectations. It felt like it wasn’t even going to go on the wall. If I had a hope for it, it would be that it would engage the people who the work was about, the people who are regulars in the building, and that it would get them into the gallery. People seemed to really like it, and appreciate it, they connected with the work, the people who came to the space regularly.
UDL • Your piece in particular was to me an emotional expression on an emotional expression. By this I mean in the piece you express in words as well as you express in design. How did it feel baring this all with the extra dimension?
Emma • I was a little bit worried about how emotionally honest the work was. I thought people might find the work too earnest, d’you know what I mean? But I don’t….Emma pauses to find the words… Sentimental. I think whatever I’ve made has always been tied to where I am emotionally but I don’t think it’s ever been so obvious. But what was really nice was I might have been speaking about my experiences and interactions and how I reacted to them within that space but people related to it which was nice. People came up to me and told me it made them consider their own experiences, like the last time they cried. A friend said she thought the work was very Human, for me, it was the best compliment I could have received.
UDL • You painted the walls of the gallery. Is this something you have done before?
Emma • No, that was Alexia’s clever idea. Because most of the work was very white, it made a huge visual impact when it was hung on a black wall. I think whenever you have a show you need to think about how it works as an installation, as a whole. The whole space needs to be considered.
UDL • As a creator myself my initial conscious expression emerged out of the culture of music in the 90s which was my introduction to the combining of genres that created something appropriately named Hip Hop. Because of this mind state I enjoy listening to and creating various types of music equally. Sometimes I would attempt to translate in musical expression the feelings of an inanimate object such as a bike represented in phonics. I mean how would a bike talk if it wasn’t seen? This understanding of merging platforms as an expression of dimension is similar in your work.
Emma • Artists have the choice to work in any medium that they want and many are multidisciplinary. It’s really about finding the best way to say what you want to say. What I’m saying is that …Emma giggles… I feel that I have to watch every word that I say..more giggles… No, you find a way that best expresses the idea.
UDL • Yes I love the idea of transferring one dimension into another dimension this is why I was so deeply affected by the work.
Emma • I don’t make work thinking about what I want to say to someone, it’s a way of processing my own thinking. If there is one thing I would like people to take from the work, it’s that it is about interaction and connection, and how that is fostered within a space. No matter how small and insignificant the transaction may seem, even if it’s just making someone a coffee.
UDL • Have you met any other artists in London or anywhere else in the world that you like?
Emma • I have met so many interesting people in London, sometimes in the most unlikely of places; artists, creatives, people from all the around the world. I value their perspectives and have learnt a lot in the short time that I have been here. The access to art and culture here is something I don’t take for granted. Alexia and I met in Canada- I like her work because I feel like she quietly demonstrates that there is beauty and value to be found in places that others overlook. I also work with young adults with learning disabilities in an art class one morning a week, I love the quirky art they make and I find they can be as sophisticated and uncompromising in their vision as anyone else, and shouldn’t be underestimated.
UDL • Now that the pieces are taken down and packed away, what happens now?
Emma • The installation of the work in the space is finished, but there is still work relating to the exhibition to be done. For example, websites need to be updated, and there are some last little admin tasks to wrap up. Most importantly, its time to build on what we have started and the opportunities that arise from the show. On a personal level, that means reflecting on the work I made, and not losing momentum in my own making practice. Its also important to me that the Kitchen Table Collective continues to grow as a platform for our ideas, however they are manifested.
I feel honoured to be included or at least a thought in both Artists expression on paper. An exhibition that was every bit emotionally, touching and personal, not only to the staff and patrons of the Tabernacle but, also to those who render services (all of us) and hold such expressions locked up deep within. I have to bow to the execution of the many forms that these feelings have been transmitted through their Art.
Please explore more of Emma Mudgway and Alexia Villard below.
All Photographs compliments of Alexia Villard
• Emmamudgway.com • Alexiavillard.com •