Tuesday, April 1, 2008

InnerViews: Steve Hollingsworth

InnerViews:  A Creative Interview with Steve Hollingsworth

This InnerView features Glasgow-based Artist, Steve Hollingsworth. Steve is a Scottish sculptor and installation artist. He works with neon and video, transforming every day objects into a spectacle. Earlier projects saw him incorporating refrigeration systems into his work.

JJLJ:   Hello Steve! First of all, let me welcome you to this session of InnerViews. I want to thank you for agreeing to be one of our featured artists!

How did you come to work in the media of neon?

SH:   I first started using neon whilst I was an MA student at Glasgow School of art (1992-94), the MA course technician Jim Lambert took me to a neon fabricating firm locally. I’d been using light in my work since undergraduate days and I was fascinated in neon’s ability to be bent into lines of light and its ethereal, other worldly qualities. I’m still seduced by it and its possibilites. Whilst on the course I took a semeter at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where they had their own neon department, many cuts and burns later I’d managed to fabricate some neon myself. Neon for me has really interesting resonances in terms of where its located in time, referring to the past and the future simultaneously, its a pretty primitive light source- a spark in a vacuum, metaphorically rich.

JJLJ:    What continues to be a source of inspiration for your work?

SH:   I’m fascinated by the passing of time I suppose and our perception of it and our place in the world. Reading Philosophers such as Heidegger and Goethe was useful in addressing ideas of Being and the subjectivity and poetics of colour. I’m really fascinated and drawn to Philosophy as a way to provide concepts that help us understand the world.

JJLJ:   Is there anyone who has played a significant role in your career?

SH:   Sam Ainsley the former head of the MA program at Glasgow School of Art was incredibly helpful and supportive whilst I was a student and when I left. She’s a seminal figure in Glasgow and further afield. Working as a part-time art lecturer myself now she taught me the importance of generosity in teaching.

JJLJ:   What are you currently working on?

SH:   Well, when I meant to answer your questions late last year I’d been working on a video performance piece for Glasgow’s radiance festival which was in November last year. I’d been given a site in Glasgow I could develop a new work for, a hidden space in Glasgow’s Trongate area. The building surrounding the courtyard used to house the city’s lighting department and the courtyard itself is home to a few neon signs which have been removed from their usual context for preservation-the Mitre bar sign (the bar now derelict) and also Douglas Gordon’s Empire sign, again removed from it’s original home and waiting for a new site. I liked the fact that these signs are hovering. I wanted to produce a piece that made connections between the
site, its context and other histories. I wanted to re-work an earlier piece involving cycling and neon. I contacted cyclists though a web-site called critical mass, a pressure group who meet once a month and cycle en mass though the city. I managed to get about 20 cyclists interested in working with me. It was quite a logistical feat- I had to meet each cyclist and equip their bikes with a blue neon tube and a dynamo-the neon glows only when the cyclist is moving. I’d a few ideas of what I wanted but it was really an organic process and I couldn’t be sure of what the resultant film would look like. I’d identified a site quite close to where I live in 
the west end of Glasgow and the University-Kelvingrove park. Neon was discovered at the university by Sir William Ramsay (Ramsay discovered helium in 1895. Guided by theoretical considerations founded on Mendeleev's periodic system, he then methodically sought the missing links in the new group of elements and found neon, krypton, and xenon (1898). The film is a performance where cyclists gradually start to cycle in a circle on an old football pitch in the park, the viewer see’s a blue vortex of light gradually build up and dissipate. The viewer can’t make out any distinct individuals, just a growing blue trail, a cypher for energy and temporary connections. The finished film is called peloton and was projected into the Tontine courtyard.

JJLJ:   How do you see your work influencing others?

SH:   I find that quite hard to answer, I make work for myself first and foremost, I guess my work is immediately visual to can be read on many levels, I strive to make intriguing and engaging work, I’m a bit uncomfortable with influence.........

JJLJ:    What is the strangest or funniest comment or question you've ever gotten about your work?

SH:   Whilst in Japan on a year long residency at the CCA in kitakyushu, a few of us were featured in a local magazine, in talking about my work it was said “I had a child’s eyes” although it sounded odd, it rings true, I’m drawn to looking at the world with a naïve fascination.

JJLJ:   What is your idea of personal success?

SH:   I don’t have one really, Samuel Beckett said-’fail, fail better’

JJLJ:   Are there any links you would like to share?

SH:   Hoping to get my own web-site up soon!

http://www.streetlevelphotoworks.org/ (click on radiance fest)

JJLJ:   Thank you, Steve for contributing to InnerViews. We wish you continued success and look forward to following your career!