Featured Artist Interview – Corvid Eyes
I love a bit of collage, who doesn’t?! The cutting edge (pun most definitely intended!) collages by Corvid Eyes are always intriguing, and with imagery taken from the past, they have a real sense of a by-gone age brought into the 21st century, which I just love! This months featured artist interview is with Aberdeen based Jenny Hood: the (wo)man, the myth, the legend behind Corvid Eyes…
I think collage allows me to dabble with my fondness for the surreal and the absurd, juxtaposing images and in turn making the old feel new.
Why Corvid Eyes? Where does that name come from?!
I think the name ‘Corvid Eyes’ suits me as it describes the way I work- like a magpie (corvid is another name for birds from the crow family). To produce my collages I collect and pull together a whole range of imagery that catches my beady eye! I would say I am a collector by nature, and I’ve always had a soft spot for corvids, they are incredibly intelligent and can even remember the faces of people they like (and don’t like!).
How did you get into collage work?
Strangely my training was originally in photography and film- that’s what I studied at art school- I only came to collage after I had graduated. During my research for other projects I had come across some really interesting old natural history imagery, I started playing around making simple compositions and I was just hooked. I am really into symbolism and the power of images, and groups of images, to tell a story, or convey an idea or feeling. I think collage also allows me to dabble with my fondness for the surreal and the absurd, juxtaposing images and in turn making the old feel new. Featured Artist Interview – Corvid Eyes
You have a very distinctive style! Where do you get your images from, are they collected or hand drawn? Featured Artist Interview – Corvid Eyes
The images in my works are predominantly found. I collect them from old books and magazines, newspapers and open source archives. I sometimes include imagery from my own photography in pieces- a lot of the backgrounds in my works, particularly of cityscapes or natural landscapes- are photos I have taken on my travels. I like to incorporate my own photowork into pieces and this is something I am looking to develop (excuse the pun) more in upcoming projects.
I used to feel a bit strange about only using found images, that it is in some way inauthentic, but someone recently pointed out to me that the process of collage, the arranging of compositions, is very like drawing. Exploring this further, I’ve recently started making work that explores authenticity and the self, as part of a funded project, so we’ll see where this takes me!
How long does it take to create a piece?
Sometimes I work very quickly- this can be due to an impending deadline, or just because I have a batch of images that excite me and I’m in a state of creative ‘flow’. However, as many creatives understand I’m sure, I can end up agonising over the placement of one component for many hours! For an average, a small piece can take 3 hours and something larger more than a week or two. I’ve found my work has gotten more and more complex as I’ve gone on which is exciting but it can be quite labour intensive- particularly outdoor works which require me to digitise my images to scale them up.
Do you start out with a specific end goal or do you just create with a stack of cutouts and see what develops? Featured Artist Interview – Corvid Eyes
A lot of the time I have a theme in mind, say for example the urban jungle, and I’ll collect a variety of images I feel corresponds with this. I’ll often spend hours raking through what I already have, or I go on a specific search for new material. Other times I try to be a bit more playful, usually when I’m not working towards an event or a deadline, and I’ll just tip a pile of things onto my table and arrange them without thinking too hard. I’ve made some of my favourite pieces this way! I think play and playfulness is really important for artists, it’s vital to retain a sense of joy in what you do and not feel like you are on a treadmill of briefs and deadlines!
What would you describe your style as?
Abandoned theme park! A Surrealist’s encyclopaedia! Magpie Mash-up! Melancholy and the Infinite Madness?! Haha! I think it’s constantly evolving, like my thinking around it. I have a tagline for my work that describes my practice as ‘reassembling historical imagery into new narratives of sorrow, joy, and the absurd’. I guess this all feeds from the elements that make up my collage works: the materials (historical/found/created), the process (assemblage) and the recurrent themes (attraction/repulsion, order/chaos).
Can you talk me through your process of creating?
More recently I’ve been working to a brief, which requires me to develop a theme and then translate that into an assemblage. As a practitioner I am really research focused, I want my work to be more than just the aesthetic, so I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about the theme I’m working with. For example I was making a series of works on a seaside/nautical theme, so I decided to look at historical accounts of messages in bottles that have been found across the world. The sense of sadness, loss and despair in those letters really informed the creation of the works, a series I called ‘Messages from the Sea’, and the images I sought and chose reflected that. For example in the faces of the people, or the ‘narrative’ I create- krakens devouring boats and sirens doing their worst! Featured Artist Interview – Corvid Eyes
In essence it’s reflecting on a theme or an idea, then seeking the best images to work with that I feel reflect that. I then hand-ink them myself, and go about arranging and rearranging them into a composition I feel works. I usually leave them for a day or so and come back fresh to make final tweaks. Then I will affix everything (combination of glue/ spray mount) and press them for a while to flatten everything out. I also frame all my works myself, having worked for several years as a picture framer, I get a great joy from restoring vintage, second hand frames that suit my work. It’s also environmentally friendly!
I’m seeing an increase in people creating and selling at the moment. There’s such a good energy coming from creatives in Scotland at the moment. Have you noticed a shift over the past few years?
Yes absolutely, and it’s inspiring and exciting to see. Things have really moved on from when I first graduated, when there was this natural exodus of art school graduates from cities like Aberdeen to Glasgow or London. I myself moved away from the city for several years but was pleased when I came back to come upon a thriving community of designer-makers and artists. There are definitely more opportunities available- I have taken part in more events in the last 2 years than I did for the preceding 4 or 5! Mostly due to my own increase in output, but this was also definitely spurned on by having things to work towards and being part of a community of fellow artists and makers.
You took part in Painted Doors Aberdeen, an initiative to transform doorways into works of art, resulting in the city becoming an interactive gallery. Pretty cool! Do you feel the public is embracing art and creativity at the moment?
I definitely do. Being part of Painted Doors has really been one of my career highlights, it’s transformed the way I look at my work, and how I make work. Before the project I would have never considered scaling my pieces up to that size, and I had never worked outdoors before. Now I can’t get enough of doing paste-ups! The response to that project has been really amazing in the city. When I was working on my piece I had lots of really positive conversations with passers-by about the transformation of these areas of the city where maybe you wouldn’t have normally chosen to walk, but now you have this renewed visual landscape that has become a treasure hunt of a huge variety of works. As well as this home-grown project, visiting street art festivals like Nu Art have really reinvigorated interest in street art and how art in general can transform a city and in turn how people feel about where they live. Featured Artist Interview – Corvid Eyes
What’s in the pipeline for Corvid eyes?
I have quite a lot of things on my to-do list, which is a great place to be, but I need to be mindful to get the basics nailed! With that in mind I am planning on revamping my website with better access to a selling platform to go along with a rebrand I’ve been toying with for a while. I also have some exciting collaborations coming up too, both in mediums I haven’t worked in before- I have definitely resolved to push myself and my work, to keep things interesting for me, but also to stop me falling into a rut or becoming twee (big phobia). I think the problem for me, and many creatives out there, is that you get so caught up in the day to day treadmill of deadlines and making that you rarely get the chance to sit back and take an overview of what you are doing and how you could improve things. I have been lucky enough to have been assigned a mentor as part of a grant I received earlier this year (Aberdeen City Council’s VACMA- Visual Arts and Crafts Makers Award), so I’m getting some fantastic guidance that’s helping me take that much needed step back.
I feel like there’s a lot of kick ass females in the industry right now. Setting up shop and really starting to make big waves in shining a light on the creative community, and what we can achieve within that. It’s something that drives me forward, this sense of camaraderie I’ve found. What drives you and your creativity?
I really agree with you there, I would say that all the key creative mentors I’ve had in my professional life in the last few years are women, and I am surrounded (I really can’t emphasise that enough) by immensely talented, driven women. Featured Artist Interview – Corvid Eyes
Alongside this, I am driven by the need to push myself and my practice, I am never fully satisfied with anything I produce (is anyone?). I have always had a lot of ambition and I am curious to see how far I can push my work, and myself. I want to make work that asks questions, or makes you rethink something, whether it’s social, cultural, emotional or intellectual. I think is one of the most important roles of art in society- and it doesn’t need a sledgehammer approach, it can be quite subtle and playful.
What message would you give to any young aspiring artists?
I spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider, that my work didn’t fit into the right box, or meet the right criteria for funding, or didn’t have broad enough appeal. I also have a great knack for imposter syndrome! But I think the one thing I have learned is to listen to your gut instinct, developing the work you feel is taking you somewhere- creatively or intellectually. Sometimes I have had to wait for long periods to find the kind of opportunities I wanted, and some I didn’t even know I wanted, but I didn’t give up on wanting to make work and ‘be an artist’, even when that felt a bit hopeless. Also, keeping in touch with some kind of creative community, with other people who are working, making and planning, is a great way to keep yourself motivated (and sane). Working in isolation in a studio can be really hard! I’m really thankful for all the connections I’ve made over the years, even if it’s just so we can moan about deadlines and drink tea!
You want to see more by Corvid Eyes don’t you!? NO PROBLEM! Use the following links to keep updated of all Jenny’s latest projects… Featured Artist Interview – Corvid Eyes