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An interview between Kim Coleman, Ryan Gander, Jenny Hogarth, & Rebecca May Marston, 15th October, 2006.


RMM: Normally we start off by asking ‘when was the last time you were in your studio?’ but because you two work together, err… do you work in a studio together?
JH: Erm… we do a lot of our work in each other’s flats and in my office.
RMM: Do you have your individual practices as well?
JH: We have, but we’ve been concentrating on our collaborative work.
RMM: And how long have you been working together?
KC: Err… 2002. 2003.
RMM: And why did you start working together?
JH: We’d been talking about collaborating and Kim had made a performance I was really into, and then we got this opportunity to make a performance for Tate…
RMM: A lot of your work is performance based isn’t it? Why is that?
JH: The last performance that we did was Raiding the Ice Box and what we were trying to do was look at how we would document the work. What we did was use someone within the performance to record it with photographs, and cinefilm, and DVD, and digital camera. We wanted to look at ways of documenting so that they could be shown again in a gallery context, so it was more than just one night, and to look at how it can become integral. Because in the beginning the documentation was ornament, not part of the work.
KC: We haven’t made any performance all year, but not consciously. A lot of work is like performance, working with people, getting people to do things, like choreographing…
RMM: And are you always in the work yourselves and the other people you use always your friends? Do you take on a directorial role?
JH: Well, in the case of Raiding the Ice Box we used art students, who were also friends, and we kind of… well they were artists and filmmakers and musicians, so we kind of collaborate with them. We’re working with them, and we’re hoping they’re interested in it too.
KC: Yeah, and a lot of the time it’s not directorial, often they’re just as much to
do with a series of effects rather than the people.
JH: This year we were doing other work alongside performance. Quite often that work would be collage, video, drawing, or sculpture, and those things would often become the props for performances, or the storyboards. And performance ended up being the amalgamation of a lot of ideas that were covered in a lot of smaller works.
RG: And what about the Associates show… because of the invite.
JH: For the show at Associates we’ll be bringing together elements of both Raiding
the IceBox and the work from the Not Yet night at the Embassy. And erm, using like, what’s the word? Technology, that we’ve used quite often when we’ve been making work: we’ve been using light projections and coloured light, and erm… Often there’s a narrative in the performance work, and often it’s about people kind of working together collaboratively, that’s a kind of theme as well. It can often be about
people being creative.
KC: Yeah and kind of about friendships.
RG: Is it a common theme that the narrative or content is a reflection of practise?
KC: Yeah, yeah.
RG: So you’re mimicking what you do within it? You do it twice. It’s like stuttering.
JH: Can you write that please? That’s perfect.
KC: The one we did before for Not Yet was projections of the people who were taking over the Embassy, so it wasn’t just people, we were projecting us and the new Embassy committee. So that’s a really good example because at that time we actually were handing over the Embassy to the committee, and we were making pictures of them and projecting them onto the gallery walls.
JH: And there can often be quite humorous ways, like the girls, one of them was bending over backwards, so the visual pun – and others were sort of negotiating their way around the sculptures in the gallery, like, literally climbing the walls.
RG: So the work’s about practise really? What it is to make work.
KC: Yeah. And we do a thing where we have us projecting ourselves. We have us holding projectors, where the image of us is projecting an image of the other one as well.
RMM: You know the show Tommy Grace and yourselves just curated, Young Athenians at
the Royal Scottish Academy, you said that it characterised an era that was the last five years of your peer group working together, and I was just wondering what you thought particularly characterised that work and that era?
JH: In a coincidental way the types of work we were making… and also being in Edinburgh. It’s a capital city, it’s an historical city, there’s a lot of tourists. There’s a lot of cheesy stuff that goes on to do with ghost tours and the dungeons or whatever jobs people have done alongside their work. And there’s a lot of very neo-classical architecture, and there’s this idea of the Athens of the North, so all of those things over the last five years have had something in everybody.
RG: In content? And what about in the way you work?
JH: Well there’s a lot of collaboration
KC: And a lot of performance.
RG: Are people in Edinburgh… Do they see it as a city that’s on the periphery of art rather than at the centre. Like, is it like Manchester rather than…
JH: Yes, definitely. It’s very much the little sister to Glasgow and you’re very
aware of that. The amount of artists who live in Glasgow, there are just so many
more, there’s a massive art scene, and in Edinburgh there really aren’t that many people doing art.
RG: Do you think that has a direct relation to the type of work that’s made?
JH: The fact that we all know each other and are all good friends, probably. But the fact that… I don’t think it really has that much effect on work…
KC: I wouldn’t see us as in a vacuum, like just Edinburgh artists informed by other Edinburgh artists. I think it has an impact on the way we make work because we’re not in any rush. It’s not like we’re in any high demand. People aren’t really showing all around the world… I think we all tend to make quite a lot of work, and we’ve got
loads of work that we’ve made this year that hasn’t been shown outside of Edinburgh…
JH: And the difference with artists in Scotland in general is that they really do not think about selling work very often at all. It’s very often a lot more project based, and erm, the sales aspect is just practically non-existent.
RG: The International 3, the thing about it is that I think it’s never been as successful as it could be because they show artists from Manchester in Manchester.
KC: Yeah that’s true. We did the artist’s residency programme at the Embassy, which always brings someone from somewhere else.
JH: And we did Embassy exchange shows at The Ship [London], and in Manchester.
RG: Which leads perfectly to my next question. Did you start the Embassy?
KC: Yeah, we started the Embassy in 2003, but it was always going to be a rolling committee.
JH: And a lot of people would say that there is an Embassy aesthetic, but that probably isn’t necessarily to do with the sort of work that’s shown at the Embassy, it’s more to do with the directors of the Embassy who never showed there but
curated stuff, and design wise – you know, the marketing type stuff, it’s really
quite strong on that.
RMM: Do you think the Embassy has had an effect on the art community in Edinburgh?
KC: Well it’s had a big effect at things like Zoo – the fact that it’s got a commercial aspect to it… I think that’s made a lot of difference because I think a
lot of people have got their work around a bit.
JH: It’s had an impact on the college as well. As part of Embassy funding the directors run a programme of professional practice that included video and
performance nights, and talks. And really the professional practice at the college
was kind of poor when we were there and we kind of had an idea of what we would have liked to have known, like, ‘God, there is actually an art scene’.
RMM: [to RG] Do you want me to pause it?
RG: No, we’ll just write ‘Michael Fullerton enters room.’
RMM: Err, ok. Individually, what was the last show you saw?
JH: The last show that I saw? It was erm… Ryan Gander at the Whitechapel East Wing.
RG: That’s hilarious. Move on…
RMM: Lets end it. Thanks. Do you want to say anything else? Shall we stop now?

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Kim Coleman was born in Lisburn in 1976 & gained a BA Drawing & Painting from Edinburgh College of Art in 2001. Jenny Hogarth was born in Glasgow in 1979 & gained a BA Sculpture from Edinburgh College of Art in 2000. The two began collaborating in 2002 & were both founding Directors of the Embassy Gallery in 2003.