In the studio with Adam Hogarth

In the latest of our 'In the Studio with series' in collaboration with City Lit, artist and printmaking enthusiast Adam Hogarth joins us in conversation about life in lockdown, converting his front living room into a studio space and his personal love for giant floral sculptures.

Could you tell us a little bit about you and your work?

My name is Adam Hogarth. I am an artist based in London. I graduated from the RCA in 2013 with an MFA in Fine Art Printmaking. Prior to that I completed a Ba Hons in Fine Art at Northumbria University in 2008. I have been a print fellow at The Royal Academy of Arts since 2016.

My work is multi-disciplinary; however, it is firmly rooted in print. I use etching and particularly screenprint processes as a conduit to articulate ideas. I am interested in notions of auto-destruction, often creating social commentaries entrenched in politics, art history, commercialisation, community, and my insular world of northern pop-culture. My works can appear comically biting, cynical and sometimes cruel, yet at their core is humour, hope and bewilderment at human language.

Has your practice has changed over time?

My work has changed quite considerably over the years. I think there is a common aesthetic that has run through throughout my career but there has been a gradual acceptance within myself about what I make, do, and have to say. I’m more at peace within my work now. I think that comes slowly from realising that a lot of art-school academia isn't all true and there isn’t a one size fits all formula for being a happy, content and self-fulfilled artist.    

What work do you most enjoy doing?

At the moment I really like screen-printing again. I worked for a fine art editioning house (screen-printing) for three years and all the joy of doing it was stamped out of me. I’ve been making prints using only hand-made marks recently so it’s nice to get back to basics and re-discover my love for the medium.  

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What art do you most identify with?

That’s a tricky one. I have artists I really love and are hugely influential, like Gustav Metzger, Djuberg and Berg, Helen Chadwick and Thomas Hirschorn…. But in terms of what art I identify most with, I’d say writing. I read a lot and can really get into a good book. I’m no writer myself but I often reference books, authors and book titles in my work. My current favourite is Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers.  

What does your artwork mean to you?

EVERYTHING! My artwork is my life now. I worked in a bank years ago and felt my life was going no-where. Whilst I was going through this I was always drawing, painting, and playing music. I decided at 25 that I was going to go to art school and make a real go of it. I loved every minute of it and became completely immersed. From then on there was no going back. Art has been there for me through good times and bad. I think about it from the moment I wake up until I go to bed at night. I tend to get tetchy and irritable if I can’t draw or get on with my work.  

What are you currently working on? Are you able to share the details?

Sure. I’m working on an ongoing project called “The Future’s Forgotten Rituals”. It’s a massive body of work encompassing prints, drawings, sculpture, video, performance and animation. The work is based 900 years after a global nuclear and ecological catastrophe. Humanity has regressed to a second dark-age and small communities hang onto life. Photographs (prints) are dug up and considered sacred artefacts and rituals are performed in mask-wearing ceremonies. I’m currently working my way through a large series of photo-etchings based on my research trips to Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Sellafield. These prints will be placed at the centre of masked rituals I am going to perform, again based on my research trips to locations damaged by the nuclear legacy.  

How has the current situation impacted or imposed on your creative practice? Has it led to any new works / projects being developed that you perhaps wouldn’t have embarked on?

Not really. It has given me more time to focus on my own work, which has been great. I really like DIY aesthetics and I still have access to a print studio, so I have been ok. Basically my front room is now my studio, which my girlfriend probably isn’t too pleased about.

In this time of self-isolation is there anything you have come to realise as a creative that you can’t live without?

Probably that I’d really struggle without a print studio. I like working in one as because it’s so process laden, which gives me time to reflect and consider my ideas and how they will evolve.

Are there any particular materials or processes that you enjoy working with?

I like working with flowers. Making my floral sculptures is always extremely rewarding and a joy to watch as they change and die over the course of an exhibition. There’s always quite a lot that goes into them. They are expensive to make and usually require a commission or some form of funding. There’s always a body of research behind each one and the larger sculptures usually involve other florists too, so it’s great to see them come together. They are an unknown quantity too. They react differently to different spaces. Some need more water, some decompose differently, and of course each gallery or audience interpret the works differently too. They are a real joy to make. 

What’s a piece of advice you’ve been given that has stuck with you?

The painter and writer Paul Becker once told me that if you throw enough shit, eventually some of it sticks. He said that to me when I got into the RCA. I think it’s a great saying and says a lot about trying to get anywhere in the art world. You have to apply for a lot of things, and you have to face rejection…. a lot. But if you stick with it eventually stuff does happen. 

How have you overcome creative blocks and barriers whilst being in lockdown?

Luckily, it doesn’t happen to me that much. I keep a sketch book which doubles up as an ideas book. If I run short of ideas I dip into that for inspiration

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