Liam Tickner, born in Hannover, lives and works in London. Studio in Bromley-by-Bow, East London.
Trained in photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and at the Royal College of Art in London for his MA. His work is often concerned with consumerism and questions related to our environment and the destruction of it.
How would you describe your work?
I work across different media like photography and sculpture. I use photographic images - my own or found ones - that I combine with different materials by coating and covering them. I believe at the root of my work there is a desire to break with the two-dimensional nature of the photographic image. I want to give the image more depth and more hapticity and so I start to play with it. A lot of my practice and day-to-day work at the studio is based on experimentation with images and materials. At the moment I am working with very simple laser prints and resin.
What are the concepts and subjects that you are interested in?
I realise that it all comes down to different notions of escapism. In my opinion, one of the easiest ways for us to escape from reality is through luxury and our consumption of it. Luxury acts as a sort of fantasy that blends out other realities. I am also interested in the way we consume things, our attraction to them and what the consequences of that are. At the same time I am fascinated by textures and surfaces that are seductive and suggestive, marble for instance. So I try to make objects that are reminiscent of these luxurious textures and yet are somehow estranged from them and made into something a bit more bizarre and maybe even abject. There is often an element of disgust and discomfort with the surface in my work, something that provokes a strong reaction. Currently I am using images of the surface of Mars, which I believe have a similar appeal to them as the marble and which links back to ideas of escapism. This idea of humankind going to Mars to populate it and escaping the issues that we have on our planet - what bigger luxury could there be, in a way, to escape the mess we leave behind and go to a completely new planet?
You are also interested in the environment.
Our destruction of the environment and the consequences that brings with it, in a way lead us to that behaviour of escaping. All of this is linked to the destruction of our environment, directly or indirectly. The escapism of living it up until the last minute so to say, this is what is happening and it is horrible. Many of my works have an element of destruction within them. Many times the image I start working with is somehow destroyed during the process and I think this is something the viewer can pick up on.
What media do you mostly work with?
At the moment I use a lot of plastics, resins and silicon and rather cheap photo prints. Because of the way that I am working, which involves the manipulation of the image, the quality of the print is currently not of any importance.
Could you describe your process a little bit?
Many times the process starts with a material curiosity and whether I can achieve something that I am constructing in my head. With resin there are certain things I can control and others that I can’t control. And even though I set out with a goal, along the way I might find out that I won't achieve it but then what went wrong might actually really be right for the thing that I am working on.
So coincidence is a part of the process?
Yes and also failure can be really good. Not always. But it can lead to unexpected results.
So there is no formal result in mind when you start doing something?
Since I have been working with these materials for some time now I have quite a good understanding of them. But nevertheless there is always the option for different results or different outcomes, it's tricky to implement a specific vision with these methods.
What did you study?
I studied photography in my BA and my MA. My BA studies were in Amsterdam at the Rietveld Academy. I had a great teacher, Johannes Schwarz, a German photographer. The approach that was taught at the time was very open and experimental, maybe even an adventurous approach to photography, going forward and embracing the different ways that photography can be and can manifest itself. Later on I came to the Photo Department of the Royal College here in London where I got more into research.
What is it that brings you always back to doing what you are doing?
I think I simply enjoy making things. Maybe my issue with this is an inherently photographic thing. The question whether you take a photograph of something or not. You have the image on the one side and on the other you have the object that you are taking the image of. So the final image will always have an aspect of authorship; you put a certain point of view, light and exposure on to it and you force your perspective on to the viewer. I somehow got away from that and now it’s much nicer for me to make something that in itself as an object has a right of existence and still can be viewed as somehow photographic. And then all of sudden you are in a tricky terrain because you might be considered a sculptor.
How much photography do you think is actually still present in your work?
I always say that I am not a photographer but that I come from photography. And that is how I think of my work as well. It comes from photography and images are very much at the core of it but sometimes they are not very present or they have been somehow eroded by the materials that I apply to them. They might not be what grabs your attention in the first place but they are still there and they are still working on you.
If you could choose an artwork to live with, what would it be?
You mean in my home? Maybe a painting. Something figurative. If the prize wasn't an issue probably a painting by Francis Alÿs. Or a Victor Man perhaps. I also would not mind living with another work by David Maljkovic, I have one already. Two years ago I swapped one of my works for a painting by Kate Mackeson. I am very happy to live with that.
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