I Interviewed Florence Sweeney for the exhibition Where You Are Not
Maddie Rose Hills: We first met in Bournemouth when you were in the first year of your Fine Art Degree and I was on the Art Foundation, how did you find Bournemouth as a place to study art and have you considered an MA elsewhere since then?
Florence Sweeney: In the foyer of Arts University Bournemouth there was a neon sign that states 97.7% employment rate in the creative industry alumni students have achieved after graduating. I find it hilarious the audacity of the university who wouldn't fund their own courses to allow students to use resources yet had the budget for this neon. The whole campus was undergoing an extensive facelift to pull in more students who naively saw that flashing 97.7% neon. I think I can safely say that the majority of alumni would agree with the inaccuracy of that statement of success rates of employment after university.
The problem with so many institutions is that they have lost sight of the purpose and have become greedy. With the fees being so high from what I can perceive that only a financially supported student can apply which doesn't broaden the demographic to have as peers.
From this experience I strive to apply for alternative postgraduate programs which are a fraction of the price and haven't lost the art school ethos.
MRH: Where are you making art from currently?
FS: My studio is currently based in my flat which is an Edwardian maisonette in Tottenham, I decided to move my space into my home when my friend moved out. It has proven to be convenient when having to work 9-5 x 5 days a week and I can come home and decompress first before heading into the studio, which is in the next room.
It works around the same price as renting a studio and works in the meantime when I'm short on time. Ideally I would like a studio space separate to my house where I can walk to and spend the whole day working which shall hopefully be soon.
MRH: How did the colour blue come into your work originally?
FS: I was drawn to blue as it felt intuitive. With my works I see them as meditative spaces, metaphysical terrains, interior landscapes... a dreamy state of mind. The attraction of certain blues is from the fact that my mother had a long table in a corridor where she collected blue glass, rocks, sculpture, porcelain, a sea of blue. I have been collecting different natural and synthetic pigments of blues and developing palettes. It is one of those colours that has a hold on us and we are immediately drawn into it.
MRH: You clearly have a strong pull towards the materiality of Things, and this manifests itself in your work in a very visual & tactile way. I imagine that many materials have come and gone throughout your career, is there any one surface that you have found it harder to let go of?
FS: It would have to be the pigmented surfaces of the sculptural Jesmonite paintings and people react to these works in a variety of ways. I am moving towards new mediums and I see my practice changing and developing in the future. It’s important to work out new ideas and in years to come I am sure I shall see the correlation between the different facets of work.
MRH: What are you working on at the moment?
FS: I have a solo show coming up at a new gallery space A Room Upstairs which is above the Bow Bells in Bow, London. This heritage space is showing emerging artists and introducing a fresh young gallery to come back to the scene in East London. I have organically become a part of the team for the gallery which is a new experience for me being involved in the development of the space.
I shall be showing a new body of work which is moving away from my usual mediums I previously used and approaching an autobiographical subject that resonates around a Eurovision pop star's song about the house that I grew up in in Belgium.