Meet Mark Goldby, a sculptor, photographer and filmmaker who values tactility and creative instinct in his processes.

Choosing materials that can be shaped and formed by hand, Mark makes uncanny objects and strange organic forms, work that points to the visceral and chthonic, yet remains entirely man-made, constructed out of digital images, plastic and wax.

markgoldby.com

Hi Mark! What have you been up to?

Recently I’ve been involved with a European programme in participatory arts. They just had a summer school pilot at Central St Martins and a conference in Amsterdam. The conference was unexpected, because I always assumed that everyone wanted to be an artist, but it’s just not true. I didn’t realise how many other people are involved in the arts. Cultural theorists, for example. And they don’t call themselves artists. They strive to move away from it.

So I was in an academic situation where I was an oddity for the very first time, because I define myself as an artist, and whenever I’ve studied art before, everyone else is an artist too. I felt like I was on the periphery with an overall view.

How does academia influence your work? Do you take into account the reaction you’re hoping to evoke from your audience? Do you consider your process?

Normally, no. Often in academia I get a bit tired because there’s a certain point where I need to start doing, to start expressing. The academic quality that comes into my work is in the post-rational analysis. That’s where I get to go through my work and look for symbolism or other theories that might be there.

I know the area I’m working on, which is currently intimacy and identity, so what I find is people are usually more interested in the content rather than the method or processes. And I don’t like to analyse the process too much. I like the symbolism and take note of materiality. The history of the process is where academics come in!

How does academia influence your work? Do you take into account the reaction you’re hoping to evoke from your audience? Do you consider your process?

Normally, no. Often in academia I get a bit tired because there’s a certain point where I need to start doing, to start expressing. The academic quality that comes into my work is in the post-rational analysis. That’s where I get to go through my work and look for symbolism or other theories that might be there.

I know the area I’m working on, which is currently intimacy and identity, so what I find is people are usually more interested in the content rather than the method or processes. And I don’t like to analyse the process too much. I like the symbolism and take note of materiality. The history of the process is where academics come in!

Your work is incredibly innovative, your diverse processes captivating.

It’s not entirely intentional, but I’m glad people find my work innovative. I use a lot of different processes. There’s not really a chance for someone to come in and go, “I really like the way you took that photo”, because there’s also a film or sculpture as well.

I find it very difficult to create, and it takes me a long time. It’s an ongoing process to realise that what I do is good. The self-doubt is there, the peaks and troughs. It really is a case of accepting any observations and compliments so that you can build up self-esteem.

I did my MFA at Wimbledon, and we were looking at post-digital. I noticed a shift towards making and painting, even after the “is painting dead?” debate (which is isn’t). I saw a shift from things like conceptual digital and video art towards a place where people were enjoying play and making. And I really like that, because that’s definitely where I lie on the spectrum of art: between digital and physical.

Photo by Camilla Glorioso, http://www.camillaglorioso.com/

You’ve talked about an “instinct to mould” in the past. How does that work? Are there any other processes you find important?

If you were fully physical, you might have something in mind and mould specific shapes, but I don’t work like that. If I add that extra pressure it doesn’t work. It’s more about tactility and instinct. A sense of something. I try to go beyond visual and get my hands in it.

I think being able to break and recreate is important. To cannibalise your work. For context, I live in a small space and don’t have a studio, which means I have to be really careful with scale. I don’t have room to store all the work I’ve ever made, so that means I frequently have to tidy through my old stuff to make sure everything is new and active as a project.

As soon as you lose that connection with your art, you can start to see it in different ways. I did this with a recent project, essentially melting down the work that I’d made and collating it together. I learned a lot through this process. And the end product is linked all the way back to the beginning.

You’ve talked about an “instinct to mould” in the past. How does that work? Are there any other processes you find important?

If you were fully physical, you might have something in mind and mould specific shapes, but I don’t work like that. If I add that extra pressure it doesn’t work. It’s more about tactility and instinct. A sense of something. I try to go beyond visual and get my hands in it.

I think being able to break and recreate is important. To cannibalise your work. For context, I live in a small space and don’t have a studio, which means I have to be really careful with scale. I don’t have room to store all the work I’ve ever made, so that means I frequently have to tidy through my old stuff to make sure everything is new and active as a project.

As soon as you lose that connection with your art, you can start to see it in different ways. I did this with a recent project, essentially melting down the work that I’d made and collating it together. I learned a lot through this process. And the end product is linked all the way back to the beginning.

What came before sculpting? How did you get here?

I used to do things like adapt my clothing, wear makeup, take furniture off the street. And I didn’t realise that I was essentially doing art. I was just filling time, satisfying an urge to use my hands. From there I went back to analogue photography because it’s haptic. You use your hands. It’s a full immersive experience of photography. There’s smells and touch. You have to physically wind the film on, which is a satisfying sensation. Each click is very specific so you really feel like you’re taking a picture. You’re capturing an image. It’s sort of magic.

I love analogue, but it wasn’t three-dimensional enough for me. I wanted to embrace the things that I create, really get inside of it. I started working with photo emulsion, transforming regular images into sculptural images. I was able to successfully transfer an image onto photo emulsion, so what I essentially had left was a transparent skin.

You mentioned themes of identity and intimacy. Can you tell us more?

I really enjoy seeing the slippages of performers identities between on-stage and off-stage personas, moments you can capture backstage. The process of getting into character. A huge part of my work is about transformation, because I’m interested in the idea of cocoons, which is the ultimate object of transformation. It’s an object to be inside of, to change within, and then come out of.

This can be reflected in architecture: dressing rooms, backstage, bedrooms, bathrooms. These places that are intimate, often very small, the places where the biggest transformations occur. There’s an interesting dichotomy of small spaces creating big personas.

You mentioned themes of identity and intimacy. Can you tell us more?

I really enjoy seeing the slippages of performers identities between on-stage and off-stage personas, moments you can capture backstage. The process of getting into character. A huge part of my work is about transformation, because I’m interested in the idea of cocoons, which is the ultimate object of transformation. It’s an object to be inside of, to change within, and then come out of.

This can be reflected in architecture: dressing rooms, backstage, bedrooms, bathrooms. These places that are intimate, often very small, the places where the biggest transformations occur. There’s an interesting dichotomy of small spaces creating big personas.

What’s next?

Colour sparks memory. My favourite colour at the moment is millennial pink, which was recently voted “colour of the year”, and I’ve felt myself really drawn to it.

I have an ongoing project to turn my bedroom into a fantasy of an adolescent girl’s bedroom. It’s a sort of miseducation in gender. This person who’s living in my room right now is someone who is being moulded to live in a certain way by her parents; the idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys.

My housemate walked into my room and she said, “oh god”, because she associates the colour with her teenage years, being forced by her parents to be more girlish. There’s a lot of trauma association with colour. This is something I want to bring into a project.

Photo by Haruka Fukao

Find Creative Opportunities

Discover creative exhibitions, paid projects and cash-prize competitions!

606