Graduates 2017: Calum Stevens

“My practice tends to directly explore expanded painting within the context of contemporary art, creating an aesthetic influenced by the designed environment.”

Calum, can you tell us a bit about your work?

“I specifically create sculptural works which appear to expand into the field of construction and the domestic, drawing attention to the materiality of these environments while addressing the gender specific stereotypes of construction techniques and questioning the fabrication of ‘masculinity’.

Through the use of a variety of material components specific to trades such as building, plumbing and decorating, combined with those more associated within the craft movement such as knitted objects, I  attempt to create a conversation between the two historically gender-specific vocational skills, exploring the lack of equality present in our contemporary political climate. I’m particularly concerned with the questioning of male stereotypes, currently explored through this collision of knitting, and its historically ‘feminine’ connotations, with the ‘masculine’ associations of building sites; asking the question: What is ‘masculinity’? Inevitably such questioning leads my work into areas of childish naivety and sexual undertones.”

Calum Stevens

Can you tell us about your choice of materials?

“The materials and objects I use are often linked to the social class of the tradespeople who predominantly work with them, and so due to this, coupled with the methods used, an alternative persona is hinted at throughout the work. Which in turn I use to explore the high value bestowed to an artist and an artwork by transposing the vocational skill set of a tradesperson to the fabrication of a work of art. I feel that such honest materials and objects, used purely for their functional excellence within the fabrication of our lives, creates a challenging dynamic when applied within a sculptural context.

Function is a crucial aspect of my work. Through the implication of predetermined functional connotations of everyday ready made’s, my work aims to challenge and undermine the concept of function through the illusion of purpose. This construct is used as a platform to explore how one interprets and interact with the domestic environment while also referencing artworks role outside of the institutional framework, where it is implemented into an environment that is distracted and confused from its original setting; designated as a design feature through the juxtaposition of objects such as furniture. With this said, my work often references to seating, i.e. the sofa, due to it’s historical relationship with painting as they’re continuously partnered as a single instillation within the domestic environment, allowing the viewer to incorporate themselves within the work.”

How did you find the course?

“Fine art painting has really facilitated my exploration outside of what is traditionally known as ‘painting’. It has given me an education in image-making thats provoked me to question its limits through the exploration of objecthood and the 3D form. This was a pursuit I really didn’t expect when  started, as I was painting quite representationally, however it’s been really beneficial and inspiring to have gone down this route whilst being surrounded by painters. Ironically, since finishing I’m really looking forward to getting back into proper painting and am also planning to start making some bits of furniture.”

What are your plans after graduation?

“I’m now moving to Leeds and am hoping to get a studio and work in some kind of workshop, so that I can implement what I learn into my practice.”

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