Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) church's student community share the belief that all humans are 'created to be creative'. Because the students enjoy encouraging others to express their joy and freedom through creativity, they set up the unique 'Exhibition Evenings' initiative: a London-based platform, for budding creative students and artists, to showcase their creative talents during their free monthly events. Since their first exhibition in December 2013, the HTB students have hosted numerous exhibitions and gig nights featuring over 40 artists, designers, musicians, illustrators, fashion designers, videographers and photographers. Now, not only is 'Exhibition Evenings' merely a monthly platform, but it has also evolved into a growing community of students who are passionate about creative expression.
At their most recent art exhibition (Exhibition Evenings #10), I interviewed their artists: Graham Clemie (http://www.clemie.net), Raman Parmar-Phillips (http://www.ramanparmarphillips.tumblr.com) and Chloe Campbell (http://www.chloecampbellart.com).
1) Are you a student? If so, where and what do you study? If not, what is your full-time profession?
Graham: 'I am a full-time student at Central Saint Martins (CSM) where I am studying fine art.'
Raman: 'I'm not a student and I have never studied. With regards to my art, I am completely self-taught. I work as a full-time chef but I'm hoping to work, one day, as a full-time artist.'
Chloe: 'I finished a degree at Edinburgh University studying Fine Art and History of Art this June. This Autumn, I have been studying at the Royal Drawing School in Shoreditch for a ten week Drawing Intensive course. I will begin work as an independent artist after it finishes.'
2) Do you go to HTB church? If not, how did you hear about the 'Exhibition Evenings' initiative?
Graham: 'No, I don't. I can't remember how I first heard of the event. It might have been a poster that was displayed in our studios or it might have been on Facebook.'
Raman: 'I first came across 'Exhibition Evenings' via a poster that was advertising an exhibition sometime. So I looked them up online and liked them on Facebook. I then replied to a call for artist to submit work for their Exhibition Evenings #10.'
3) How is the 'Exhibition Evenings' initiative unique compared to other platforms or exhibitions that you have displayed your work at?
Raman: 'I would definitely say that it is unique as it offers a free platform for artists to show their work. Also, as students run the initiative, this allows for a greater audience as I think students are more inclined to attend a student-hosted event.'
Chloe: 'The initiative is unique as it was free for us to have the event organised, curated and publicised. It was very exciting to be part of this initiative.'
4) What was it like engaging with students across London at the event? Did you have interesting conversations about your displayed work?
Graham: 'I enjoyed it. There were a lot of people, most of them with an arts background of some kind or another. I was very fortunate in the feedback I received: compliments, questions and so forth. But such events are not simply about discussing the art on display. They're a nurturing ground for meeting new people, having different conversations, making new plans and possibly beginning new journeys.'
Raman: 'It was great - there weren't just art students there; I met students studying English, Medicine, Law and other subjects. As an artist, it's always great to talk to others about your art. A lot of my work is quite provocative and eye-catching: you can't help but look at it, so a lot of people wanted to talk to me about it and asked how I work and how long I've been an artist for.'
Chloe: 'I really enjoyed exhibiting work with artists I had not met before. It was also interesting talking about my work with different people, particularly people not from an artistic background. I was told that, for someone, my work represented the neck of a giraffe skeleton. I like this idea a lot!'
5) Tell me about the work that you displayed at the event, and why you chose to display those particular pieces at this specific event.
Graham: 'The main sculpture that was shown at Exhibition Evenings #10 event was 'Existentialism I' (http://clemie.net/gallery-6). This comprises of a scrolling LED sign mounted on a slim, black metal stand which stands in front of an identical stand upon which is mounted a mirror. A small black box sits on the ground and is connected to the sign via a black cable. The sign has been re-programmed to write backwards so that it can only be read in the mirror. The sign alternates between, "I am here," and, "You are there." Of course, to read the sign, the viewer must look at the mirror and in doing so sees his own reflection and thus becomes incorporated into the sculpture.
My work is about disembodiment, alienation and a feeling of not belonging; a discrepancy between consciousness and physical presence. Descartes showed us how to prove that we exist with, "I think, therefore I am." Existentialist psychology is based on the philosophy that we are what we think we are, not what someone else sees.
'Existentialism I' questions the meaning of being, of existing. When you look at your own reflection, is that really you or just an image? Is that how you thought you looked? In my sculpture, is the consciousness, the self, actually hiding in the little black box and not the image in the mirror?'
As for the maquette that was shown (http://clemie.net/a-summer-experiment) , this was inspired by a one of a trio of proposed skyscrapers by Daniel Liebeskind. It is simply an experiment with form, material and texture. In that sense it is a classic sculpture. There is no deep meaning behind it. I often like to photograph my work in the outdoors. Taking art out of a white cube environment can completely re-contextualise it and not only give the work new meaning, but its surroundings too.'
Raman: 'I displayed some paintings that are part of my Anaglyph collection. Inspired by the old fashioned Anaglyph 3D, I've painted a set of paintings that recreate that mind-boggling illusion. Also because they have a blank background, allowing for no context, the subject almost seems to be floating - only adding to the impact of the pieces.'
Chloe: 'I exhibited 'Cascade' which was a recreation of sculptural installations inspired by and created for the National Mining Museum of Scotland. The extracted paper patterns of coal cutting machinery, references the beginnings of coal as compressed rainforest wood. My website contains my installations from my final year at Edinburgh University. 'Cascade' was picked to be a recreation of one of these installations.'
6) What is the best thing about being part of a community of young people who appreciate creativity?
Graham: 'The artistic energy. It's like being in a petri dish filled to the brim with iridescent growth medium.'
Raman: 'It's always good to share your thoughts with like-minded people, and it helps your own ideas to grow. It is also great to learn about other things and projects that are being worked on in your area.'
7) What does creativity mean to you?
Graham: 'Well creativity is quite a broad term, encompassing, among other things, craft and what I would call 'fine' art. I am primarily concerned with fine art, which, for me, is making something that does not have any utility - rather than a finely made cabinet which may be creatively made and skilfully created - but has an effect on the audience. It might be an effect - a physical reaction - or it might be cerebral: a concept or pleasure.
I try to make art that might encompass art theory, a concept, maybe something personal, but which the audience can appreciate without any foreknowledge. Above all, I want to cause the viewer to feel something.'
8) Why do you believe creative expression is important?
Graham: 'Pretty much the same reason that we need flowers, grass, trees, fresh air... nature. Because art - both the consumption of and creation of it - can inspire, motivate, regenerate, broaden our outlook and simply give pleasure.
I'm a mature student of fine art. My first degree is in electronic engineering. I was an entrepreneur and inventor (another form of creativity) with my own business. I released myself from the restraints of my previous career path and I now have a radically new and exciting existence.'
9) Any tips for up-and-coming young artists?
Graham: 'Concentrate on being creative first and only later worry about skills and quality of workmanship. There's no point in making a well-made art piece that isn't very artistic. Experiment, fail, try again, get feedback, learn which parts of feedback you should adopt and which you should ignore (but don't ignore everything!).
During my first year at CSM, my tutor once suggested that I try and make 200 sculptures in two days. I gave it a go and discovered a completely new side of me that I'd never have thought possible. It started a completely new journey for me.'
Raman: 'The only way to find out, is to find out.'
If you would be interested in exhibiting with 'Exhibition Evenings' or
keeping up-to-date with their latest news, please
email firstname.lastname@example.org or find them on
Instagram (@exhibitionevenings), Twitter (@exhibitioneves) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/exhibitionevenings).