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AS IS | Sam Haynes


From the UK

Based in London, UK

Sam is a sculptor whose objects and installations have evolved over the years - recently she's been working with found objects and materials - but at the core of her work is the notion of accessibility - in every sense of the word

A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you into art?

S: My parents were always interested in art and design. I hated being dragged around exhibitions when I was younger but somehow their love of art seeped into me, without me noticing. It’s only on reflection now that their influence has become so apparent. The objects that surrounded me as I grew up have happily found their way into my subconscious aesthetic.

In the 90’s I completed an MA in ‘Art in Architecture’, focusing on making art for public spaces rather than galleries. Over the years my work has developed from large scale, permanent site specific public artworks to more temporary installations and events. Since lockdown 2020 I have been developing a series of small scale sculptural assemblages using found objects and materials, which I display as photographic prints. Accessibility lies at the heart of my work, both in the materials and objects I choose, as well as the playful way in which I develop ideas and construct assemblages, all influenced by my experience of working with marginalised communities.

A: What inspires you the most?

S: The objects I find and use in my art inspire me from week to week. I love that chance encounter and sense of discovery. I have also worked as an artist facilitator for thirty years now, often engaging young people and adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities. I am inspired by the sensory language of materials and the special conversations we can have with one another, as we explore this magical, physical world together.

A: Do you have any specific rituals while working (creating)?

S: Not really, although I do like to listen to music and the occasional art podcast. I’d recommend ‘The Ministry of Arts’, possibly the world’s most inclusive podcast!

A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (an artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?

S: Don’t be afraid to say what you think and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be judged by other people, just do and say what feels right to you. Don’t ever be afraid to be different, make a noise and stand out from the crowd.

A: What are your top 3 adjectives related to art?

S: Dynamic, intuitive, community.

A: The best angle to look at art is from..?

S: ...your breakfast table, first thing in the morning. I have a home studio in between my kitchen and living room area. I like to eat my cereal while looking at an artwork in progress. A new day brings a new perspective.

A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is:..?

S: Never (!!) ’Who is your favorite artist?’ This sort of question puts you under pressure, your mind goes blank and you never say what you think you should have said.

Broader questions are always better, allowing people to reference art in a wider context. Maybe you start a conversation about something you’ve seen in a gallery but maybe it’s something you’ve seen on television or on YouTube or social media.

A: Must-read books to help us talk about art (or do we even need them)?

S: I think it is important to rewrite those old ‘history of art’ books that I was exposed to when I was younger. The white male domination is fairly shocking to look back at now. Any books that give you a fairer, more gender-balanced, diverse representation of artists across the world through time, have to be a good starting point. I’m enjoying a big, beautiful book called ‘Women in Abstraction’ at the moment - a re-education that has been long overdue.

A: If you could change one thing in the art world - what would it be?

S: The high fees that emerging or mid-career artists have to pay to submit and exhibit their work. Seems like the art world is busy making money directly from the artists themselves these days. In other creative disciplines such as performance this just wouldn’t be acceptable. I understand fees are often needed to cover exhibiting costs but it still feels like we are being exploited by many organizations that should know better!

A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art).

S: "An artist is not special. An artist is an ordinary person who can take ordinary things and make them special."

Ruth Asawa

Thank you!

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