Meet Maxwell, Breantonia and Nicholas

MEET MAXWELL, BREANTONIA AND NICHOLAS


We caught up with Emerge winners Maxwell Rushton (Art Prize), Breantonia (Music Prize) and Nicholas White (Photography Prize).

Find out more about the Emerge Awards.

Maxwell Rushton
Winner, Emerge Art Prize

Tell us a little bit about your winning work, Drawn Out. What inspired you to create this project?

I’m interested in how influences which we are exposed to since birth shape our human nature. The piece was about trying to connect and learn from a part of myself that existed before I was taught to be an adult.

Drawn Out is a duration drawing that I made over the course of a year whilst living in isolation in the Alps. I repeated a single motif of four vertical lines across four ten meter rolls of paper. The motif of lines is the same as the one that appeared in my earliest drawings. I’m not sure why I started drawing a set of four lines when I was a child but now to me, they represent my most primal and honest expression; who I am now and the art I produce is tarnished by the reasoning of logic and countless cultural influences.

I used the lines (eventually I made around 10,000,000 of them) and the distance from external stimulus as a means to try and understand the most significant impactors and influencers of my nature and nurture.

Drawn Out

What is your aim when creating art? Do you try and evoke specific reactions from your audience?

I create different art for different aims. The aim for Drawn Out was to combine the technique of repeating those lines with the conditions I made them in, to create a lens that allowed me to understand some of the truths about who I had become and why. The aim was also for the piece to be a stepping stone, as it was a right of passage I needed to go through so that I could then make other art; art that is better informed by a greater understanding of the human condition, through what I learned from observing my own.

Throughout school, I found I was being taught to consider the audience before, during and after I made a work of art. That the audience is the purpose I am to create for, and when I create, it should be an act of collaboration with them keeping their expectations in mind. This might be how I’ve made some pieces but this is not how or why I made Drawn Out.

What is your aim when creating art? Do you try and evoke specific reactions from your audience?

I create different art for different aims. The aim for Drawn Out was to combine the technique of repeating those lines with the conditions I made them in, to create a lens that allowed me to understand some of the truths about who I had become and why. The aim was also for the piece to be a stepping stone, as it was a right of passage I needed to go through so that I could then make other art; art that is better informed by a greater understanding of the human condition, through what I learned from observing my own.

Throughout school, I found I was being taught to consider the audience before, during and after I made a work of art. That the audience is the purpose I am to create for, and when I create, it should be an act of collaboration with them keeping their expectations in mind. This might be how I’ve made some pieces but this is not how or why I made Drawn Out.

Drawn Out

Is there anything you’re afraid of as an artist? How do you overcome that fear? 

I worry that I won’t be able to finish some of the pieces that I want to make. For instance, I have an idea for a work that will take years of physical and mental discipline and a lot of sacrifices. When I think about that work, it can be daunting, so I guess I’m afraid of my own art but not as much as I am about not making it, and what that will do to me.

The way I’ve overcome that problem in the past is to maintain daily progression and to shrink my life to accommodate for the creation of the work.

Drawn Out

Brand New Me

Do you delve into other artistic mediums?

Yes my practice is multidisciplinary because each of my ideas has a different texture, so the mediums I use need to match the idea. I cross over to traditional mediums of painting and sculpture frequently but I tend to use them in not-so-traditional ways. For one piece (Brand New Me), I painted my logo on a large canvas using over 11 litres of my blood as I wanted to see how far I could take the relationship man has with the material world we exist in by becoming a piece of advertising myself.

I also made a sculpture (Left Out) that I took to the streets and filmed as the public reacted to it. This piece was about homelessness and the footage reached over 40 million people through the medium of social media.

Do you delve into other artistic mediums?

Yes my practice is multidisciplinary because each of my ideas has a different texture, so the mediums I use need to match the idea. I cross over to traditional mediums of painting and sculpture frequently but I tend to use them in not-so-traditional ways. For one piece (Brand New Me), I painted my logo on a large canvas using over 11 litres of my blood as I wanted to see how far I could take the relationship man has with the material world we exist in by becoming a piece of advertising myself.

I also made a sculpture (Left Out) that I took to the streets and filmed as the public reacted to it. This piece was about homelessness and the footage reached over 40 million people through the medium of social media.

Brand New Me

Do you have anything exciting lined up?

I have a few projects on the go which I’m excited about but it’s a bit too early to speak about them, sorry!

 

Keep up to date with Maxwell’s work: maxwellrushton.com

Follow Maxwell on Instagram / Twitter

Left Out

Breantonia
Winner, Emerge Music Prize

What are your earliest memories of music? Who are your biggest influences?

My earliest memories of music are dancing around and singing in the front room with my Mum. Both my parents had the absolute best catalogue of music, from Stevie Wonder to Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire to Patti LaBelle and Whitney Houston. I was surrounded with real soulful music and when I showed an interest in singing particularly, it was because of the amazing vocalists I grew up listening to. They have of course become my biggest influences too, especially Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston. More recent powerhouses include Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Anderson Paak and Solange and I think it’s reflected in my own work.

What are your earliest memories of music? Who are your biggest influences?

My earliest memories of music are dancing around and singing in the front room with my Mum. Both my parents had the absolute best catalogue of music, from Stevie Wonder to Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire to Patti LaBelle and Whitney Houston. I was surrounded with real soulful music and when I showed an interest in singing particularly, it was because of the amazing vocalists I grew up listening to. They have of course become my biggest influences too, especially Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston. More recent powerhouses include Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Anderson Paak and Solange and I think it’s reflected in my own work.

Is there anything you’re afraid of as a musician? How do you overcome that fear?

Something that I dealt with, and still do on certain days, is low self-esteem and fear. Being a creative person means pouring yourself into your work and once that work goes out to the public to judge and criticise, it can have a direct impact on you. It becomes so hard to detach yourself from your art because it’s an extension of you. Sometimes you can’t look at your work and subsequently someone’s opinion on it, objectively. A negative opinion on your song becomes a negative opinion on you. I’ve come to learn this just isn’t the case. Music is so subjective – that’s its beauty. Not everyone is going to like everything but you’re not doing it to please people. You’re creating music to share your gift and connect with people.

You spent some time in LA last year. What did you learn while you were there?

LA taught me that the world is your oyster and life can be whatever we make it. There’s a piece of the pie out there for everyone. Things may not end up looking the way you initially saw but as long as you’re open you can really live the life you want for yourself.

You spent some time in LA last year. What did you learn while you were there?

LA taught me that the world is your oyster and life can be whatever we make it. There’s a piece of the pie out there for everyone. Things may not end up looking the way you initially saw but as long as you’re open you can really live the life you want for yourself.

Tell us a bit more about your debut EP, Organic. What inspired you to create it?

Organic was a real milestone for me. I came back from LA so inspired and moved by the American hustle and grind within the music community out there. I saw people chase down their dreams like their life depended on it, and they did it for no other reason than their love of the art. Some people were juggling four or five jobs, but they made sure they had their weekend or evenings to be in the studio, or go to an open mic. They had such a commitment and dedication for their craft, with the only reward and return being self-fulfillment, and I wanted that for myself. I wanted that sort of control over my own happiness – especially when it came to my passion.

When I came back I told myself, I have absolutely no expectations for this EP. Whatever it will be, it will be. I’m doing this for myself because I love music, I love creating music, and I want to share that music with the people I love. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The EP literally came together itself and it has been the best experience.

Performance at the Emerge Awards

Do you have anything exciting lined up?

Yes! Now I’m done with university I’m just working on filming more content for the rest of the EP. I’m in no rush to release a brand new project. I just want to create visuals for the remaining tracks off Organic and I can’t wait!

 

www.breantonia.com

Follow Breantonia on Instagram / Twitter

Do you have anything exciting lined up?

Yes! Now I’m done with university I’m just working on filming more content for the rest of the EP. I’m in no rush to release a brand new project. I just want to create visuals for the remaining tracks off Organic and I can’t wait!

 

www.breantonia.com

Follow Breantonia on Instagram / Twitter

Performance at the Emerge Awards

Nicholas White
Winner, Emerge Photography Prize

Have you always been drawn to photography? How did your creative journey begin?

Not always but I suppose my creative journey began way before I found photography. I played drums throughout my teens and had intended to study music at university after studying it alongside sound engineering at college. Towards the end of my studies I had a sudden change of heart. My music had become too serious and as much as I still wanted it in my life, I wanted to keep it as a hobby. I backtracked two years and sat a diploma in Photography before progressing onto a BA (Hons) at Plymouth College of Art, graduating in 2013.

Growing up, the outdoors had always been a massive part of my life. All of my holidays as a child were spent hiking or camping on the National Parks with my family, and taking photographs became a natural extension of these holidays. Nothing serious at all, just pictures for the family album. As I got older, I began thinking more about my photos; what I was photographing and why I was photographing it. I noticed a significant shift in my motivations to go outdoors – it became less about the act of walking and more about the photography. It then became my sole reason for going away on trips, and the routes would be considered based on what photographic opportunities they offered.

Ironically, I’m now so busy with my photography that I haven’t picked up a pair of drumsticks in years and hardly ever go hiking without a ridiculously heavy camera bag.

Black Dots

What’s the most challenging part of your creative process?

I’m shooting all of the time, whether that be for personal projects or commercial work. Often these shoots run back to back with little to no time in between to digest it all.

What’s the most challenging part of your creative process?

I’m shooting all of the time, whether that be for personal projects or commercial work. Often these shoots run back to back with little to no time in between to digest it all.

Black Dots

For a series like Black Dots, what’s in your kit?

Black Dots was shot entirely on Large Format 5×4 and a combination of three lenses. I use film and more specifically 5×4, for almost all of my personal work.

On top of this, most of the Black Dots shoots saw me carrying a 60 litre pack with enough food, water and outdoor equipment to see me through several days at a time.

Black Dots

The last time we spoke, you were deep in the Romanian mountains. Can you tell us what you have planned next?

Haha, I was indeed. Last year I was awarded the Royal Photographic Society Environmental Bursary to begin working on a new series in the Carpathian Mountains, Romania, documenting the formation of a new National Park. It’s a tricky subject to communicate photographically, as it’s so incredibly abstract. I’ve spent a few weeks in winter 2017 and spring 2018 shadowing a group of rangers on the ground, trying to make sense of it all – but it’s going to take some time! I imagine I’ll be spending a huge amount of time out there throughout 2018 and 2019.

The last time we spoke, you were deep in the Romanian mountains. Can you tell us what you have planned next?

Haha, I was indeed. Last year I was awarded the Royal Photographic Society Environmental Bursary to begin working on a new series in the Carpathian Mountains, Romania, documenting the formation of a new National Park. It;s a tricky subject to communicate photographically, as it’s so incredibly abstract. I’ve spent a few weeks in winter 2017 and spring 2018 shadowing a group of rangers on the ground, trying to make sense of it all – but it’s going to take some time! I imagine I’ll be spending a huge amount of time out there throughout 2018 and 2019.

Black Dots

What advice would you give to any budding photographer looking to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t underestimate the power of networking. As a student all I wanted to do was take pictures, with little to no interest in all the peripheral requirements of the working photographer. But I can’t stress enough how vital that is. Oh, and don’t spend so much time on Instagram that you forget to actually go out and take photos!

 

Keep up to date with Nicholas’ work: www.nicholasjrwhite.co.uk

Follow Nicholas on Instagram / Twitter

Black Dots

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