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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 a series of paintings I started doing based on whited out windows I had seen. I was thinking about how people manipulate that painterly effect, writing or drawing with their fingers. 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 an 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 think of it all as one work together, and the sculptures I thought of as a kind of 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 of the paintings in ‘Turbo” I’ve started to add elements of images and collage into my more recent works, I want it to really keep that look that it could be a found piece of material. The way I hang the work as well is something I think about a lot, I want it to be quite different to a conventional hanging.

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: Yes, its taken from the Mitsubishi ecstacy tablets which people used to call Turbo Mitzis. 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. I just felt it tied a lot of different 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 you work. You had made a lot of photographs and drawings before you arrived, are these the starting points 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 the other day I saw a squashed drinks can being used as an aerial on top of a car. When I got back to the studio I did a couple of drawings and thought about how I could add that as a component into a work. I think often when I see something like that it triggers a process which allows me to focus on where does that object come from and how can i translate it into a painting or drawing. A lot of that comes from the raw materials I bring in as well, just thinking about how and where I’ve seen them. 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, bright yellow always makes me think about acid house and the references to night clubs and ecstasy. I think with the more simplistic marks and more obvious colours I want to build on the things I see around me those  unrefined gestures that come from a place of boredom. Im really interested in that creative action that has no use but still that needs an output. I think I definitely want to go back and examine that need for creativity or destruction like the feeling you might have in secondary school. I think at that age I encountered a lot of periods of boredom that led to these pointless, adolescent acts of creativity or destruction that I think a lot of people go through.

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: I would really like to develop a series of those wall hung metal bar sculptures, and try and find a way of including the bottle casts into them aswell. The pic material I've been using has been great so I feel i have got quite a lot I can do with that. I like to think that I am moving towards the development of characters and a sense of narrative within the works and thats something I have thought about quite a lot recently.
I have been building a collection of images over the past five or so years from around Hartlepool and the North East and would love to put them together in a publication or book. Its mostly just things I've seen that make me laugh or catch my eye and they’ve really influenced my work so I think its something I’d like people to see.

Sam Blackwood’s exhibition Turbo is open by appointment until 22nd September at Goldtapped Gallery, Newcastle. more information here.

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