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Open21 Artists Q&A – Anne White

Open21 Artists Q&A – Anne White

Currently on display within Worthing Museum is our Open21 Exhibition that offers all those within our community an exciting opportunity to exhibit their artwork within a distinguished gallery space.

Entries were open to amatuer and professional artists, of all ages, from across Sussex. Resulting in over 500 pieces being submitted. From these, 158 artworks were chosen by our panel of judges. Open21 includes a huge range of work with diverse and contrasting styles, using many different mediums; such as 3D sculpture and photography, alongside work in acrylic, oil, pencil and pen. 

Curious to know of the inspiration that went on behind these visually stunning pieces, we asked artist Anne White to delve deep into her Open21 submissions and allow us to understand where her 3 sculptural pieces come from.

Anne White - Swell

Can you tell us more about the inspiration for your Open21 artwork? 

The inspiration for the three works on show at the Open21 was a continuation of a theme I was researching during my fine art master’s degree at Chichester University. A body of work I titled, ‘In one end, out the other’. My work has always had a domestic aesthetic and during my studies I was inspired by an account in Bill Bryson’s book, ‘At Home – A Short History of Private Life’, that talked about chamber pots being stored in sideboards in dining rooms and kettles doubling as bedpans in bedrooms.

Inspired and fascinated by these objects, I started collecting blue and white enamelware which consisted of bowls and dishes used at one end of the body and urinals, potties, and bedpans, used at the other end. Whilst researching these opposing groups of objects, I found many similarities in form, colour, material, and surface that fascinated me. But by placing these objects together, the boundaries between these opposite groups created an uncomfortable abject feeling. The abject, as the philosopher Julie Kristeva suggests, is “both repellent and seductive”, it draws you in, you want to look but you also don’t. It is this abject feeling that I wanted to play with in this body of work.

Anne White - Untitled, (bedpan with jug)
Anne White - Untitled, (bedpan with jug)

What process, materials, techniques, etc. did you use to create your Open21 submission?

Two of my pieces in the exhibition titled ‘Untitled, (bedpan with jug)’ and ‘Jugs’, use a textiles techniques called Canadian smocking, that stitches the silk velvet from the back using a grid pattern, so that from the front of the fabric is gathered in repeated fold formations.

The third piece, titled ‘Swell’, although also stitched textiles, has more of a connection to pattern cutting, stitching repeated pieces together to create a concertina effect. One common theme that all three stitched textiles’ have, is that they all contract; they are all stitched so that they decrease and contract in size. This is a deliberate process used to connect the work to the human body, which also contracts and expands when we consume and expel food and drink.

Anne White - Jugs

When people view this artwork, what do you want them to experience and think about? Is
there a connection between your message and the way you make art?

I want to draw the viewer in, to entice and seduce the view to take a closer look. I use the ceramic vessels as a metaphor for the human body and hang the work in direct relation to specific heights of the body; as in the ‘jugs’ piece, which is meant to be hung at chest height. ‘Jugs’ consists of a pair of Spode cream jugs encased in stitched silk velvet. They hang empty, yet contained, showing only the inside, the stitched velvet also suggests something precious.

What is your background? How did that inform your artwork? 

I work full time as a textile’s technician in the fine art department at Chichester University, where I also did my BA and MA degrees in Fine Art. I am also a daughter to an ageing parent, a mum of
two, a granny to two and a wife and I don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do, especially to make art! During the first lockdown, I took the opportunity to re visit many of the pieces that I started during my MA and never managed to finish, these are the pieces that I submitted into the Open21 exhibition.

Who are your biggest artistic influences? 
I am influenced by a large range of artists in all kinds of mediums and regularly go to galleries and museums for inspiration. However, I have always loved Mona Hatoum, Louise Bourgeois, Susan McMurray and Do Hu Soh’s work, to name just a few, who all manage to combine the perfect mix of materials, process and meaning and produce work that allows the viewer to have a two-way
conversation.

Where can people find you online? 
annewhiteartist.co.uk

The Open21 Exhibition is open to the public at the Worthing Museum in the Main Gallery and Norwood Landing until Sunday 13 Feb 2022 and is FREE for visitors to come and see.

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