AS: How do you feel the materials you work with manifest when you’re putting them together. Do you believe that they bring something of themselves to the work?
AD: Absolutely. I’m really into the process philosophy understanding of the world, object-oriented ontology as well – I start with an impulse to make something and then try to exert a force on the materials to make them comply with the idea, and it usually reaches an impasse, where it’s not reaching my expectations. At that moment, there’s usually a destructive moment where I start breaking things apart or covering them with colour.
In ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ there’s this great moment where the author talks about the idea of ‘gumption’ – imagine you are trying to remove a bolt: you try so hard that you end up stripping it, so now, not only do you have to remove the bolt, you also have to cut the panel it’s mounted on which creates even more work because you’re so close to the problem that you can’t see it from a greater perspective. At that moment you step away for ten minutes and realise you can jimmy it and it comes off smoother, with ease.
With my practice, I’m often so tied to it that when a problem arrives, I end up just breaking something, but I realise that that moment is important to me too because after that breaking moment the materials are not subservient to my expectations of what I want them to be, and at that point, I can work together with them and see the qualities that I first saw in them. The way I work with materials is like a rune system, I pull them together from different sources – yourselves, the street, and other suppliers – and then I select three or four and work out how I will work with them. There’s a lot of unconscious at work.
AS: Does the composition of the material concern you? We are focussed on sustainability, and eco-innovative solutions, and have a lot of conversations about material composition in the showroom. We encourage people to work with materials that are more suited to their application. For example, thermo-moulded plastic parts in aeroplanes are the most sustainable material solution for the job. They are lightweight – meaning the craft uses less fuel to fly – and hard-wearing, therefore long life, in a high traffic environment. The way that you use plastic materials sparingly in your sculptural works, emphasises their preciousness. There is an ecological implication there somehow.
AD: I love the transparencies and psychedelic hallucinogenic aspects of a lot of the materials you have, and I work with them alongside paper-mâché, and wood, but ecologically, even acrylic paint is problematic… It’s easy to hate plastics but Ivory used to be used to make piano keys, and so many innovations were made thanks to plastics.
Everything is made with a personal touch and there is no outsourcing, I appreciate a personal charge and a personal relationship with the material. A lot of these materials are found or sourced from places like yourselves – which makes them nobler as they are more costly than some others – but as a DIY practice there is something about assemblage and bricolage, and a lot of the works speak to the idea of upcycling. Art making is transformative and alchemical, but I like the idea of collaging and using materials that have their histories or DNA into new objects.