Veronica Grassi is in her third year as a Fellow with Digswell Arts at The Forge. Grassi constructs sculpture and installation combining both metal and thread/stitch.
How would you describe your current practice (e.g. materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)?
My desk currently has a vice holding a hand drill and an old cast iron Bernina sewing machine – both tools sit side by side. I use a wide range of materials from iron wire and steel rod to the finest silk threads and invisible thread. I often re-use packaging materials. I am open to the potential of the materials, considering their previous use that also adds a narrative to the work. I find it interesting that materials that were once valued for carrying goods are disposed and discarded once they have served their usefulness.
What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops etc)?
I am currently engaged with work on the theme ‘Encounters’ for a group exhibition with Praesentia at Parndon Mill, Harlow in May this year. My new work for this exhibition is investigating the contrasts of materials – exploring the tension, contradiction and uses of materials. For example it can be argued that Silk has connotations of luxury and femininity whilst Iron, utilitarian and masculine.
What is the question you get asked most about your work and how do you answer it?
Regarding the textile sculptures, I am asked what is the material and how do you make the work?
The answer is layers of thread and other materials with soluble film and then placed on a mould.
What or who inspired you to be an artist and why?
I commenced an evening course in Photography. I enjoyed capturing and subverting an alternate composition of reality and the essence or feeling of the moment. Wanting to explore this further, I commenced a full-time foundation course in Art & Design. It was an invaluable introduction to the joy of ‘playing and exploring’ materials. The tutors were inspirational and encouraged further creative studying with higher education.
Which artist do you most admire and why?
During my Silversmithing degree, I was trying to get metal to work in a way that it didn’t really want to and I was unable to achieve the results or communicate what I wanted with materials such as copper or silver. I saw Eva Hesse’s solo exhibition at the Tate in 2003 and I changed my attitude to both the materials I used and how they were manipulated. In addition to the repetition theme, Hesse used pioneering and simple materials such as cheesecloth, latex and fiberglass resulting in work with organic associations. Anya Gallaccio is another artist who interests me as she uses materials that change during the course of being exhibited. I am also interested in the work of Arte Povera artists (1960/70s) in their use of unconventional materials and styles.
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts Trust strengthened your practice as an artist?
The Forge has an encouraging and motivated group of artists who give you support and encouragement. This is through crits in a safe and constructive sharing. We also have our Open Studios where we all share in an event, opening the doors to the public and this has increased my confidence in meeting people and talking about my work.
Web address: http://veronicagrassiart.wordpress.com
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