Longlist Profile – Angela Eames

By Carla Rapoport August 5, 2019

Artists take on environmental themes in all kinds of ways. For 2019 Longlisted artists Tamiko Thiel and /p, their views are evident through their images and choice of engagement with audiences. For Angela Eames, a fellow 2019 Lumen Longlister, her means of communication is more subtle.

Her longlisted work, AGINCOURT I and II, shown below, reflects upon on a time long past, when protective clothing was invented out of necessity and used in arm-to-arm combat – i.e. chainmail. Early chainmail was made by riveting rings of metal together and her work, which she calls “knitted swatches” allude to that rather peculiar fabric. “Looking backwards rather than forwards, these are Brexit pieces!” she says, referring to the UK’s troubled efforts to leave the European Union.

 

Her work, she says, draws attention to the commonplace in that her drawings explore the ambivalent nature of our experience of reality. “They reference natural form and order and our accountability as makers and manipulators within the world,” she says. “They comment on a need for attention to the principles of balance reminding us that whilst we embrace new technologies, we should also be mindful of the balance of nature.”

Her development as an artist who thinks differently began early in her practice when she moved to London in 1974 to attend the Slade School of Art’s Fine Art Experimental course.  “I had been made painfully aware whilst on my degree course that I was neither painter nor sculptor nor designer for that matter; I seemed to fall between the cracks. This course had the word ‘experimental’ within its title – that suited,” she says. She later did a MA in Computing in Art and Design at Middlesex University with John Landsdown.

Not too surprisingly, she’s been inspired by a wide range of  artisans, singer/songwriters, playwrights, architects and artists – and particularly drawing as exemplified by Frank Stella’s painting coming off the wall and into space; Chuck Close was her first experience of a digital painter (“without knowing then, of course,” she says), Tess Jaray’s visual forays into the mesh, Jeff Wall’s magnificent lightboxes, Robert Altman and Mike Leigh’s structural approaches to filmmaking, Alexander McQueen’s digital snake printed fabric and Issey Miyake’s experimental fabric manipulation, Merce Cunningham’s Points in Space (dance choreography via the screen) and Sylvie Guillem’s courageous, inventive, passionate interpretations through dance. 

An Early Adaptor

Angela started working digitally in 1987 with her first computer, a Commodore Amiga with 8MB add-on capacity, C++, and D-paint! In order to print largescale images she had to print on A4 rolls of Xerox copy paper and laminate them, in strips, to a suitable substrate. Large format printers had not yet been invented.Every path I followed in the realising of work was new and difficult. As an artist recognised for my hand skills particularly, there was some consternation within my peer group as to why I would be playing around with those machines!” As years have passed and we’ve reached a time where most artists today will utilise the digital to some degree, this feeling of estrangement within her practice has subsided. As a member of The London Group, she had for some years been alone in her digital pursuit but now, with newer members to the group engaged within the electronic field and an awareness of other artists through the Lumen Prize, she feels more connected.

Drawing for her is not merely the mark as derived through application of eye, hand and implement although this is ubiquitous. “Drawing is the very thought-process of an artist. I acknowledge the digital as commonplace but if I frame, shoot, deconstruct and reconstruct photographic images within Photoshop and construct assemble and disassemble virtual entities within 3D Studio Max for example, what exactly am I doing? I believe that I am drawing. I know that I am not painting, sculpting, printmaking, filming – perhaps I’m not even making – but I am drawing.”

 

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