An interview between
Rebecca May Marston and Lucy Clout, 5th May 2007.
RMM: Ok, how should we start? We have to say something about the fact
that you already did ‘Temporary Measures’ at Associates, the
12 solo shows in 12 days. Yours, in particular, was one that could have
been there for a month-long show. Is it different conceiving a show for
one day rather than a month?
LC: I approached ‘Temporary Measures’ as if the show could
have been there for a month. That was a more useful way for me to work
and get what I wanted out of it.
RMM: That’s strange, because a lot of your work is performance-based,
so I wasn’t expecting you to revert the other way and make a full
on context-specific exhibition.
LC: Maybe I’m just a bit obtuse. I’d been getting sick of
doing performances I wanted to do something closer to an object-based
thing, and I hadn’t for quite a while, so it was a good opportunity
with it being quite a low risk situation.
RMM: What do you mean by low risk situation? What are you trying to say
LC: Really straightforwardly, because it was only one day less people
would see it.
RMM: Oh. Are you practising all the time, making work, or are you specifically
conceiving work for the show?
LC: I want this to relate to the first show so its quite context specific.
To be honest I’m not in a position of having enough time to do that
looser way of making work. But then again I’ve never worked like
that, I have a goal and I work towards it.
RMM: When you work towards a context in that way, does the reality change
from what you imagine?
LC: Yes, definitely. I’m quite jealous of those people that have
an idea and work on the formalities of that idea for however long, though
maybe those people don’t really exist. I always spend a lot of time
working out an idea by dragging small objects through it. My work tends
to change a lot through the processes of doing it. It’s also likely
that in the last week I totally change my mind and do something different.
RMM: Is that to do with stage fright?
LC: I think my best work has always been made like that.
RMM: So you don’t have a secure sense of working through something
and knowing it’s brilliant and making it?
LC: No, things change and I kind of like that churning.
RMM: Can I ask something separate? You know how Ryan’s a bitter,
angry Northern artist, are you one too?
LC: No. I’m not bitter or angry. I am from the North. But I don’t
think I’ve got anything to be bitter about.
RMM: [Enter Shakeeb Abu Hamdan] Morning. I’ll just pause it…
Ok. What do you think some of the best things about London are?
LC: A million things… That you always have the opportunity to see
cultural stuff, that there are enough people to make things happen. I
love all of those clichés as well, like just walking along the
RMM: And what are the worst things?
LC: Erm… That London is so blind of the rest of the country.
RMM: Do you mean art particularly or generally?
LC: Both. And the swagger that’s it’s got is a bit embarrassing.
RMM: Do you think that affects places outside London more or affects London
LC: I think it’s detrimental for people in London, it’s foolishness
and peoples foolishness ought not to be encouraged.
RMM: Can I ask a Hans question; what are your unrealised projects?
LC: I don’t have any unrealised projects. That makes my mind sound
so much neater than it is; there are million things I think about every
now and again any of which I could say now but they’d be totally
embarrassing. They’d need to go through some sieving over many,
many months before they could ever be put into the world. But there’s
definitely not a beautiful unrealised project that I could create if only
somebody gives me half a million pounds.
RMM: But there is big suitcase full of little ideas, so when a context
comes up do you mine through it and pluck them out?
LC: Yeah. I’m really looking forward to after the show to having
a period of time to work without having a goal. Though, again, this might
be a fantasy.
RMM: Are Keeby and your friends and family in your work this time?
LC: Yes. I’ve always liked to work within my means, financially
and skill wise because it’s useful for me to have these boundaries
and I do happen to be related to, or know, a lot of other skilled and
RMM: So if you were a millionaire it’d be Tom Jones doing voice-overs
instead of your Dad or whatever?
LC: No no no no no… Maybe it’s not about money maybe it’s
just about access. I haven’t shelled out for any actors in this.
All the things I do are about small-scale things, about negotiations and
experiences, actually bringing stuff like actors into my work would be
very difficult. If I had a specific project that I couldn’t work
out via a series of favours then it’d be different, but I like to
work via a series of favours. I like that I can help out other people
making work in other ways too.
RMM: Yeah, yeah, I think that anyone at any level works best with those
economies… Ryan said to ask you a question about making objects
and ideas, and if you never had to make any more objects, but I can’t
remember what the question was?
LC: Erm… I think that the two things are entirely the same for me.
The kind of art I like and aspire to make ought not to be just thinking
made concrete. The material of that work ought to be thought itself, if
you know what I mean? My work isn’t like that at the moment, which
is annoying me.
RMM: What is it instead then?
LC: It’s too thinking and not enough making. The ‘special
magic’ thing of art for me has been, you know, objects as a way
of understanding the world and moving stuff around in the world as being
a way of understanding the world. Since I don’t think of art thinking
as particularly different to my everyday thinking, then I don’t
know if it would be sustaining a practice if I just did the thinking.
RMM: Ok. And what are you doing for the show?
LC: [Laughs] It may change a lot: it’s going to be another voice-over
thing, like a language-learning tape, some objects, a little slide presentation
and some chairs.
RMM: So what relation does it bear to the first show?
LC: The first one was kind of thinking put to an audience. It was to do
with an imagined usefulness of what you learn everyday and the snippets
of information you happen to remember and recall, which make up much of
experience. Whereas this second one is more about labour, and the conditions
you create to justify your labour. I’ve been thinking about how
you create these kind of faux moral processes to validate the way you
spend your time. And how, even at a very small-scale level, you have to
position what you do and what you produce in the future, to allow it to
RMM: What do you mean by positioning in the future?
LC: There’s a kind of imagined future audience for the things you
do in work, art and everything. You allow the things you do importance
by imagining you’re watched doing them, or making play of improving
things so these imagined people will be able to understand what you’ve
spent your time doing. It’s a socially necessary kind of narcissism.
RMM: How do you feel that your first show went?
LC: I was really pleased. It wasn’t perfect. A lot of the pleasure
I got from it was that it wasn’t a performance, but was object-based.
LC: People could talk to me about it after, which they never do with my
RMM: Because in general people can’t talk about performance, it’s
rubbish. And what were some of the things you think failed in the first
LC: I can’t tell you all of my flaws Rebecca.
RMM: That’s like taking off your superpower cape and you’re
just a woman after all.
LC: I think I’m naked enough with my ‘oh my boyfriend’s
just coming through in his dressing gown, we should pause it.’
RMM: Well, maybe we should stop there, and we’ll just see…
LC: We’ll just see.
Lucy Clout was born
in Leeds in 1980. She gained a BA (Hons) from Goldsmiths College in 2004.
Since graduation she completed a residency at Cove Park, Scotland (2004),
a commission for Beacon, Lincolnshire (2006), a group show at Tou Gallery,
Stavanger, Norway (2006), and a 1-day solo show at Associates as part
of Temporary Measures (2007).
For more information
contact Rebecca May Marston at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44
(0) 207 729 8173 or see www.associatesgallery.co.uk