In late 2005, there was a monumental series of events held in a former timber merchants located in the London suburb of Peckham. It was not the first time that this group of recent Fine Art graduates had unleashed the spectre of their !WOWOW! creation on a now, more than familiar audience. The previous shows, held in various disused buildings across London’s South East, had created a cult like following with a mix of live music and art exhibitions.
Featuring from the very beginning in the number of Graduates from Slade, Camberwell, St. Martins and Goldsmiths Universities, was a young lady whose family has begun to staple its place in art history already. Boo Saville, sister of the illustrious Jenny Saville, studied at Slade University until 2004. Since graduating she has exhibited her paintings alongside Matthew Stone, Gareth Cadwallader, Ellie Tobin, and the many other members of the extended !WOWOW! family. She has also, however shown her work at more mainstream exhibitions, and was selected to display in the recent graduates section of the Affordable Arts Fair just months after leaving college.
Can you tell me a little bit about the course you studied?
I studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art from 2000 - 2004.
Since graduating, what shows have you had?
I have tried to aim to have at least three shows a year since graduating, this enables me to stay focused and keep ideas moving onwards. I have been involved with WOWOW since the beginning in 2004. I did three shows at the Co-op with WOWOW and made a series of large paintings. The space we all had was large so I had the luxury of lots of space, which is rare in London. We then moved onto the Kwik fit Garage and then Berlin last year. I have had a show in a commercial gallery in Islington and in the crypt of a church but most recently I was in an exhibition curated by Matthew Stone in Dazed and Confused magazine. I think it’s important to see your work through different modes of representation and not to get stuck within a certain remit. I am always open to different ways of exhibiting; I find it helps ideas along. I was really lucky and moved straight into a studio after college. I started making self-portraits and collages; I relished the solitude and freedom of my own space. I think the first thing I did after college was the new graduates section of the Affordable Art Fair, which was a great platform both to sell some work and for exposure. I also had a show at the National Portrait Gallery, where I work part time.
What medium do you work in?
I was in the Natural History Museum one day and I had forgotten all my pencils. I had a black biro and found that it made a really beautiful line and could be worked just like graphite or ink. The biro has an extraordinary permanence and it almost carves the image out of the paper. I am obsessed with the surface of my drawings. I select images, which lend to this process, images which alone contain little visual information but allow the scope for my own input. I have recently been working on larger ink drawings using ink from fountain pens and clothes dye.
What current shows are you working towards?
At the moment I am working towards my first solo show at Martin Summers Fine Art. I am also involved in another magazine project later this year curated by Stuart Semple.
Which artists do you draw influence from and why?
I think Vija Celmins makes the most exquisite drawings. I became familiar with her work at college and it has given me the courage to exclusively make drawings and to cut out colour in some of my work. Laura Owens just had an amazing show at the Camden Arts Centre last year and has a real joy in making her pictures. Holbein's treatment of hair is extraordinary, Cecily Brown's paintings are really sexy, Hockney’s drawing of Andy Warhol is incredible, god I could go on and on. Francis Bacon is a huge influence as are the YBA's of course. For me I grew up surrounded by these art heroes and it made me think about what an artist was supposed to be.
Where do you find your subject matter?
I usually look in textbooks and on the Internet for an image to use. I often like to think of myself as a human photocopier, as this cuts away a lot of the nonsense when talking about art. I don't really talk about my work much, but I like the idea of being a machine.
How did you first become involved with !WOWOW!?
I have known Matthew, James, Tamsin and Tara for years and when we all lived together in South London a natural group of people formed around Camberwell College and Peckham. I was first involved with my rap group the So Silage Crew and we played at the first WOWOW in the Joiners Arms. We all got drunk and loads of art students came. It was like nothing else in London at the time. It was such a mess, it was amazing.
Have you found a benefit from working around a community of artists?
The Co-op enabled us to be completely ambitious, the parties became an extension of the exhibitions and vice versa. We were all curators, artists, promoters and organisers at the same time. Being involved with WOWOW gave us an amazing support network and lasting friendships. It was completely self-driven, with no money or commercial backing. I have such happy memories of the Co-op, It was so romantic, probably much more so with hindsight?
Do you have a working relationship with your sister? Will she advise you and discuss your work?
I grew up in a very creative family; both my parents were primary school teachers and allowed us all to be very open to art and creativity. It is great to have a sister who is also an artist; we have a shared love for painting and talk about each other’s work.
What do you think of the galleries in London and where do you aim to be able to exhibit?
I love living in London. Its really buzzing at the moment with new things happening all the time and you feel you can do whatever you want. As far as the work goes, just to be able to make it everyday without any constraints would be my ambition right now.
Oliver Guy-Watkins is a writer and curator living in London and Berlin. He is the Editor for Big Shot Magazine, as well as having work published in Senses (LA), The Rockit (LA), State Of Art (London and New York), Artrocker (UK) and White Hot Magazine Of Contemporary Art (online). His exhibitions have included a film screening by Tracey Emin and the group show ‘Ruhe Bewahren’ in Berlin. He has self published a book of short stories ‘Plow’d Garlic Hill’, and is currently working on a novella entitled ‘The Toe Thief’. He was born in the idyllic countryside of The Cotswold’s in South West England during the month of October in the year 1979. firstname.lastname@example.org
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