Going back to the origins of your career and how you got to this point, how did you start within art to get to here?
As much as I love my art teacher the foundation was the moment I was free. Everyone was trying to pull me in the direction that they thought was best for me, but at this point I was finally free.
I just did my residency and I came back after that summer to the Art Academy, it’s very hard to get into (limited to 15 people in each year), but easy if you have money. I got lucky – because of my school and art teacher I got in.
That’s where I learnt about marble and print making, all of these traditional things, but what I loved was that the artists that were teaching us didn’t have practices that were traditional. I thought that this was very exciting. Simply because I came from the point where I learnt print making to a tee, painting etc, and then I had access to all of these other things. The artists teaching me were installation artists and they were making these massive architectural installations and I was like wow this is what I want to do.
I was very inspired by the teachers at the time. They pushed me to think about my love for literature, so I started writing, reading books and texts and started making massive installations out of paper. I would print images of rooms and recreate it with paper prints in another space so it would look like that room.
It was really exciting, I learnt so much about myself. I was always researching random references and I realised I could help other artists with my references. Many of those artists at the foundation are still my best friends to this day.
After the foundation I was not sure what I wanted to do and then eventually I stumbled upon Central St Martins (CSM).
How did you find it (CSM)?
I had one year at the Art Academy but during that time I was doing extracurricular courses. I was doing courses at CSM and I was contemplating whether I was going to do fashion, design or art – I did all of the courses. Just thinking about it now, I don’t know how I did it all. I basically did loads of courses before deciding to go to CSM.
During The Courtauld project, one of the tutors teaching art history happened to have an affiliation with CSM and they asked me if I wanted to take the opportunity to do some courses that they were doing such as fashion, photography and production – where I met many friends. I then did fashion film, over the summer, for three months. We went over the project at the end just to get a taster of how it would feel like to produce a whole project.
What was the plan post foundation?
I was looking for more education. My family realised I wasn’t giving up on this. I then got into CSM to do fine art.
Were you happy to get in/did you know it was prestigious?
I didn’t know much about CSM, that’s what’s so stupid of me. I just thought it was cool, the building, the fact that I had access to designers, architects, fashion designers, anything. That building harboured so much creativity. I looked at it and thought I could do anything – I can become friends with someone in fashion and make this collection that I have always wanted to make – and I came in with this perspective.
That is very refreshing as most people don’t have that perspective.
Really it was just a continuation of what I have been doing in a broader aspect. Where the possibilities were far more infinite then where I was before. Up until that point I didn’t do anything digitally I made everything by hand. At CSM I kind of stopped making things by hand, I didn’t know that was going to happen.
Did you make the most of it at CSM? Did you collaborate with people there?
I was there all day, I was being kicked out every evening.
There are some key characters in my life that I met at CSM, who are still doing things in the same way that I am. It started socially and when we started looking at each other’s works and references we just fell in love with each other. It was kind of crazy, we ended making a hub around us through all of the different courses at CSM.
How did you do that?
Just by talking to people. I realised at CSM that I had a magnetism; people would just approach me and I would talk to everybody.
At some point my best friends would say that they can’t walk down the street without me talking to someone, they were like let’s GO. For me it was great, at CSM you call it ‘the street’, and for me the street was where I met really random people. At CSM people dressed crazily, I was just taking everything in. Eventually we just formed this little group around us and other creatives, we then realised that we would work together, and that happened naturally. There were three of us at the core of the whole thing, Ines Zenha, Bence Magyarlaki and myself, we called it ( )PARENTHESIS STUDIO.
Eventually I also started creating an event. We realised it was too expensive to show art in a formal space therefore my best friend and I at the time, started 14th Cinema, a way to bring people together. The two of us were very obsessed with architecture and we started thinking about how to make exhibitions more accessible to people like us and we moved into a warehouse on Curtain Road. This was, at least for us at the time, a very lux looking place. We figured out a way to turn this space into a place where we could exhibit work every two months and then got people at CSM to exhibit at the show.
The first time we did it people were so confused, asking if it was really our house as they thought it was a gallery. They asked if they could do the next show in the space and we were like we need to move all of our staff back into the house…
At the time it was our baby. The reason it was called 14th Cinema was because at the time I was very focused on theatre, film and architecture. All my films were conceptually driven and would involve very big installations. I would design all the time and then make the installation by hand. I know I said I stopped making works by hand, but these were physical structures out of wood. I would make these big installations and we would then knock them down.
Were they busy events and what were the ideas behind the shows?
Yes. It was such a success, we didn’t think it would be like that.
Each show had a theme. The artworks on show needed to be in expanded media that didn’t fall into one category. For example, it could be a painter that makes large scale installations that are more architectural works then they are paintings. We didn’t have things on the walls, it was very different. After doing the first show, we said okay let’s take this seriously.
We would go to the Royal Academy shows and choose the artists we like and then we would invite them to exhibit. Because we did it so well and branded ourselves, people thought we were an actual gallery. Thereafter I couldn’t believe it. These artists were showing in my house. We would have performances on the evening and we had Albert Riera, who owns the Emergent Magazine – a very good painting magazine – selling his zines there.
We would collect each other’s works, display the works and support each other. It was one night only. We would get free drinks form Portugal as my friend’s family owns a company that produces wine in Portugal and they had the bottles in the UK. We would spend a £100 max on each event.
It was also called 14th Cinema because we would project films onto the street during the show. We would ask the neighbours opposite if we could put a screen on their garage, so people would see the films from the streets, people would come just to see that. Everything needed to be exhibited in a weird way, it needed to be strange. It just worked. Eventually others got on board, and we created a little collective.
That collective then started worked together, alongside our own practices. Bence Magyarlaki and myself then formed a duo, we created a piece that was two storeys high and we made it all by hand. It was called Towards Fragments and it was an architectural piece. I could not believe I had done that, it was the last time I created something by hand. This was for my final show at CSM and we just erected this massive architectural piece, it was nominated for the Nova Award Prize.
That’s incredible. Did people in CSM then contact you to be a part of 14th Cinema?
Yes and we didn’t have capacity. We didn’t know at that point that we were going to move to Portugal. It would have carried on. I was supposed to do it when I came back to London, but I was the only one here. Therefore 14th Cinema is kind of changing. Many of my best friends are abroad – so this shift is happening – and what I realised was that I needed to make my own studio. But I need to make the capital first.