Steph Carr is a contemporary fine artist, who has just finished her degree at Sheffield Hallam University. Her work is both wonderfully conceptual and thought provoking, whilst still being beautifully executed. Her latest work is intricate and visually stunning, adding depth to the ideas behind each piece. In a time where contemporary artists are common, it’s rare to fine one with so much thought behind each piece, whilst still maintaining quality and visual effect. This is something that makes Steph special, and I urge you to see more of her. Here’s what she had to say:
Tell me about yourself as an artist
I’ve just graduated from BA Hons Contemporary Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University. I work with everyday domestic materials, commonly found and used in the home currently to create objects that change themselves from waste material to objects of desire that you want to return to the home. I have a fascination for that transformation stage, the moment something changes from rubbish to some form of spectacle, offering a new way of looking. Being hands on is really important for me, in everything I do I aim for the materials to remain honest and for there to be signs of the objects being handmade. Taking inspiration from the in between moments in our everyday lives, materials show themselves be it a pile of used teabags or discarded material the textures and colours found in these objects is what I take away to make something new. My work has a deep routed focus on perception of beauty and I aim to create things that we actively want in our homes and lives.
What are the influences and inspirations behind your latest works?
My latest work seen in my degree show ‘The Discarded Made Tangible (Sweepings)’ was a creation of wallpaper. We drink hundreds of cups of tea within the home each month and the overriding waste was impossible to ignore. I began collecting the used teabags and in the drying out process placed them onto paper, the pattern and colour left on the paper by the bag was so beautiful I took this and created a wallpaper design. After a battle trying to reproduce the pattern by hand on the paper it became clear a digital aid was needed so I used a combination of Photoshop help to create the design and hands on approach by screen-printing the design by hand on to lining paper. For the purpose of the degree show it was important for me to offer clues to the viewer as to what materials had been used, so I matched the pigments as closely as possible to a tea staining. There are many references that flood into this work; the main points are the amount we use and waste in our homes and also the possibilities of those waste materials. I feel that the use of tea offers many links dependant on the viewer; some have referenced the similarities to Victorian wallpapers and the importance of the tea trade in that period, some have noticed similarities to the Rorschach inkblot test that uses pareidolia (seeing things in abstract inkblot images) in an attempt to gain insight into a person’s mental state. For me, I want the viewer to feel they want to remove the piece from the gallery space and return it to the home, where the material was collected and used.
As a young artist, have you found it difficult to establish your own style?
I think for any artist the pressure to find ‘a style’ is always the black sheep in the room. For me, going through the motions of university has been the best way to find out what I am interested in and how I want to progress with my work. It seems to have come from nowhere really, but when you think about the amount of information you soak up being surrounded by other artists in the form of tutors, outside professionals and peers it all contributes to your way of working and thinking. In my final year something seemed to change, a focusing of ideas (maybe the pressure of the degree show contributed!) and putting a piece of work in to the gallery space as your final university piece spurs you on to push yourself. There are some amazing opportunities for creative in this country and I find inspiration in all media’s and areas, the main thing I would say to any young artist is to just keep going! Wherever you go and whatever you see you take something with you and all of these aspects come together to form your ‘style’. I am still learning and growing as I think every artist does and with every piece I make there is more that I would like to do to it and new ideas that arise from putting a realised work in to a space.
What are your thoughts on the British Art scene of today?
Some of my greatest inspirations have been from British artists; I find the work of artists like Deborah Bowness (www.deborahbowness.com) so beautiful and they push me in my own mind and practice to keep going with an idea and to keep perfecting it. Bowness takes everyday objects such as lamps or chairs and uses photographs of them to create wallpaper, this can completely transform a space and offers solutions for those with little space in the home. She has also got a very interesting project on the go ‘The Paper Trail’ that takes disused spaces on our streets and papers them, drawing attention not only to her work but to the tragedy of our British high street where shops are closing down every day and spaces are being wasted. There are so many inspirational artists around and they keep emerging as more and more creative arise from schools, universities and colleges. Another huge inspiration for me is Timorous Beasties, their mainly hand-printed wallpapers and designs are so grand and beautiful, they are well known for their contemporary take on the traditional ‘Toile De Jouy’ pattern of Napoleonic France however they recreate scenes in a similar style of modern cities.
What can we expect to see from you in future?
I’m not too sure what the future holds! I am interested in many mediums including illustration photography and craft so I hope to always be involved in something creative. In an ideal world I would love to continue working on designs for wallpapers, fabrics and other aspects of the home however I am not sure how this would be possible currently! I will always be a creative person and in one way or another I know this passion will filter through to all aspects of my life. If nothing else, I just hope to offer some form of inspiration to those who see my work. In a society where we have no focus on what we use or waste, as it is so readily available to us, I hope to elevate the potential of what is in front of us to a position of significance.
To find out more about this young artist and her work, contact her via her email: firstname.lastname@example.org