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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Interview with Anthony Gayton






q)Please tell us your name and where you practice.


a)Anthony Gayton. I lived and worked in Vienna, Austria from 1994 until 2010, but I am currently based in Bideford, England.


q) Why do you make art?


a)Because I would have been a terrible brick-layer.


q) How do you work ?


a)My usual method is to plan a story/concept and then look for suitable models and locations etc. Sometimes though I will meet someone who will inspire me to create a series or story for them.


q) What´s your background?


a)I studied art and photography in England, then moved to Vienna where I assisted, and then ran the studio of, Andreas H. Bitesnich for 13 years. I have been taking pictures since 1998, but have only been working entirely alone since 2007.


q) What role does the artist have in society?


a)The role of the artist should be to hold up a mirror to society.


q) What was a seminal experience for you ?


a)My first two years of art school were extremely important, and were responsible for the whole direction my work has taken creatively ever since.


q) Has your practice changed over time ?


a)The digital age has transformed photography. I am very lucky that I worked in photography when every process was analogue. Now I tend to mix analogue and digital processes, using the best elements of both; I shoot entirely on film, combine analogue with photoshop post-production, and use entirely digital printing processes.


q) What art do you most identify with ?


a)Whether it is painting, literature or whatever medium, I most admire work which is a combination of technical skill, creative originality, and poignancy of message.


q) What´s your strongest memory of your childhood ?


a)Home


q) What themes do you pursue ?


a)I have tried through my work to explore many different facets of, and attitudes to, homosexuality, both in a contemporary and an historical context.


q) Describe a real life experience that inspired you.


a)One of my most popular series is called 'Boy Will Be Boys'. Two of those images in particular were inspired by real life events.


q) What´s your most embarrassing moment ?


a)If you think I'm having that published on the internet you can forget it!


q) What jobs have you done other than being an artist ?


a)Between studying photography and assisting the only other job I ever had was a teacher of English to foreign students.


q) What responses have you had to your work ?


a)Mostly good. My work does tend to appeal to various people on various levels. Some people enjoy the historical and cultural references, others the mood and composition, or the technical side. Some of course like the images because of the beauty of the model. I've certainly found that even my most 'provocative' images rarely outrage people, because of the almost traditional, painterly handling of the subject.


q) What do you dislike about the artworld ?


a)That 'artists' whose only real talents are for business can make disproportionate amounts of money, while truly good artists with no head for business have to struggle to survive.


q) What research do you do ?


a)When I'm planning a project I can take inspiration from many sources. A lot of my projects are combinations of sexual and social history, science, religion, art history etc. I read a lot - I have quite an extensive library, but also use the internet of course. I also try to travel as much as possible, so that my work has many cultural sources.


q) What is your dream project?


a)I quite literally shot it already. It is called 'Falling Awake' (2007).


q) What´s the best piece of advice you have been given ?


a)Never compromise.


q) What couldn’t you do without?


a)My eyes.


q) What makes you angry?


a)Almost every aspect of modern life since I returned to England! Britain has become so extreme - a propaganda media which spreads fear of everything and promotes personal greed, the war machinery, privatisation, control through cctv and 'do not...' signs, signs everywhere, lack of jobs, decent education and hope for the poorer class of youth - the list is endless! And most of all - the fact that the British public have meekly allowed it all to happen. I'm currently reading 'The Case For Socialism' by Fred Henderson from 1911 - If only there were one member of the 'Labour' party (or any Party) left who believed in one quarter of what Socialists stood for, there might be hope for Britain...


q) What is your worst quality?


a)I'm optimistic


q) Dogs or Cats ?


a)It's cats, all the way down


q) Making art is a lot like being on lsd. Know what I mean ?


a)I've never been into drugs, so I'll just say that it's sometimes better than sex!


q) What does “ copy” mean to you ?


a)A lot of my work, especially at the beginning, referenced paintings quite literally, and could have been seen as 'copies', but what I'd do was take a genre or series of images and create a 'fashion story' homage to them. My later works have tended to reference other art works indirectly, or use recognizable iconographic imagery in a way which subverts the original meaning. I always look to the past for inspiration, and I've certainly never knowingly copied another contemporary photographer.


q) What´s your favorite cuss word ?


a)bugger!


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