Sam Blackwood   
24/9/17 - 1/10/17

Sam Blackwood (b. 1992, Hartlepool) uses found footage and imagery of working class British cultures, collected through personal experience and research as the starting point for his practice. Heavily influenced by his time spent growing up in Hartlepool, Sam’s practice explores how society commodifies various elements of British working class culture that it still continues to demonize.

Spare Room Residency: Do you want to talk about some of the ideas you’ve been working on this week?

Sam Blackwood: It all came from these paintings I started doing, based on a series of photographs I had taken of windows with that washed out painterly effect on and how people manipulate that and draw into it with their finger, much like how people write 'CLEAN ME' on the back of a dusty car. I made a piece with the Daily Sport newspaper behind these whited out panels, thinking about how people might read these newspapers in secret and its not really something that people openly talk about.  I thought that really fitted with the idea of having something to hide. I am also interested in the idea that the right wing media is spreading a underlying fear amongst the working class.
My process relies heavily on photographs, either taken on my phone or something I have come across online. Images will usually dictate the materials I choose to work with, almost like bringing a photograph into a sculptural form.
I also rely on nostalgia heavily, reflecting on my time growing up and how different sub cultures operated and their chosen semiotics, this is the reason I work with a lot of strong symbolism.

SRR: You said this body of work started with these paintings, the materials you use for them, they’re not conventional painting materials where does that start or how do they come about?

SB: I think that just comes from the idea of how can I recreate the things I’m seeing as accurately as it might be in the street. I want it to be like true to the thing that I’ve seen or influence the piece, rather than making it too detached from the reality, I want it to have an edge of that real thing in the work.

SRR: You currently have a solo show Turbo over at GoldTapped gallery in Newcastle, could you tell us a little about that exhibition and the works on display there?

SB: I kind of like to thing of it all as one work together, and the sculptures I kind of thought of it as like an intimidation thing, I remember being in that situation in school or college and that kind of presence and I wanted the sculptures to have a very similar feel to them. I think they all really fit together and that’s why I choose these images
As a development from some of those paintings I’ve made the works this week and now I’ve started to add like some images in and collage a bit more, I want it to really keep that look that it could be like a found piece of material. The way I hang it as well I want it to be quite different to a conventional hanging.

SRR: Again the presentation of the works tends to be Is that something you’ve always been conscious of?

SB: Yeah I like to think about how I’m going to hang the work and how that works for each piece quite a lot

SRR: You say you see each these pieces as one work all together, could you tell us where the name for your works in the exhibition Turbo came from?

SB: So It from the Mitzubishi Exstacy tablets which people used to call Turbo Mitzis so I thought it references that kind of club scene but also the boy racer influence as well as a rapper from the North East called Turbo D, so I just felt it tied a lot of things that I was thinking about together

SRR: Having seen your process in the studio this week it feels like you bring a lot of materials together before you begin making the work, there’s a lot of photographs and drawings even before you bring the raw materials for the sculptures or paintings into the space, is that the starting point for most of your works?

SB: Yeah it can be drawings but mostly it will be something that I have seen and photographed, for instance a can we saw the other day being used as an aerial on top of a car, I’l get back to the studio and draw and think about how I might add it into my work. I think as soon as I get something like that I really get going and can really focus on how to translate that to a painting or drawing. A lot of it comes from the raw materials I bring in as well, I think about how and where I’ve seen them, there thing with those chain fences I used, I was thinking about when you see people have screwed up litter or a crisp packet and wedged it between the wires, I’m really interested in the effort that someone would go to do to something like that.

SRR: In terms of a colour palette is that something you think about a lot when coming to making work?

SB: I do think quite a lot about it, I like to think about those kinds of childish naïve graffiti, the yellow always makes me think about acid house and the references of club mentality and ecstasy. I think with the more simplistic marks and more obvious colours I want to create that unrefined sort of bored creativity, that has no use maybe but still that needs an output. I think I definitely want to go back to that need for creativity or destruction like the feeling you might have in secondary school. I think at that age I felt and saw a lot of the pointless, adolescent boredom that I think a lot of people go through at school

SRR: The 3 hammers cider bottle, which you use to cast the base of your sculptures, has become quite a recurring presence in you work where did that come from?

SB: Yeah all my mates used to drink it when we were in school, and it feels right to use that and drawer on those memories. I think the branding is on it is quite funny as well, its changed quite a bit but those cheap green bottles are quite an iconic thing.

SRR: Where can you see these works progressing?

SB: The metal bar sculpture I would like to develop a series of these and try and include the bottle cast sculptures into them aswell. The pvc material is great so I feel like I have got quite a lot that I can play with them. I like to think I am moving towards the development of characters and narratives in my work and that’s something I have thought about quite a lot as well.
I’ve been building up a collection of images over the past few years as well from around Hartlepool and the North East and I would love to put them together in a publication or book, its been about five years worth of taking photographs of things I’ve seen that make me laugh or catch my eye and influence my work so its something I’d like people to see.