Manchester-based artist Richard Hughes explores ideas of the future and eventual endings, balancing and negotiating personal emotion and experience with the universal. More at the links following our great Q&A!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am currently working and making art in Manchester UK. I have a studio in a small suburban town called Altrincham. I studied fine-art sculpture at Manchester metropolitan. I am currently working as as set builder, creating bespoke photography sets and instillation for various photographers and companies. I am able to use the workshop for the more specialist aspects of my work and the studio in the evenings and weekends for finishing and working out ideas. I have exhibited in numerous exhibitions in the UK and Europe and I am in the process of making a series of smaller scale sculptures for upcoming shows later in the year, I am also clearing out my studio to make space for a large sculpture, my largest to date.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I discovered art when I was very young and my first real memory of my interest to shape objects and materials was when I was around 7. It started with making snowmen in Winter. I would not follow the usual process of simple round shapes stacked on top of each other but I would almost cast the snow with crates and boxes and buckets then cut life like limbs to make an actual man made out of snow. I remember using my mum kitchen cutlery and I would sit there on the boxes and carve for hours in the cold, then quite often my brother or a neighboring kid would kick it down haha. That’s when I knew I liked to shape and make things that stand and that you could walk around.
Art was never really valued in my household when I was a younger, I didn’t take it at school because I was led to believe that it wasn’t a proper subject by my family members and my dads work mates. I actually took a different subject, didn’t like it, then went through the arduous battle of changing my subject choice and chose to take Art as it was I knew I wanted to do deep down.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I am currently exploring ideas about the future, I am using some quite apocalyptic images that reference some kind of eventual end. I am trying to explore how the coping mechanisms we have in place for the uncertainty of our future can make us ignorant to the truth. I try to define reason to the complexities and strangeness of our actions in contemporary life. A lot of my own imagery is hypothetical, I kind of imagine how I would feel if this or that happened and that ‘feeling’ effects the imagery and vice versa and as I always have toy with the universal and personal responses to the same scenario.
What is your process like?
I think a lot, I will have an idea and then when I decipher that idea I can see where each aspect has come from, I have built up over the years a repertoire of different elements, materials languages and aesthetics in my work, I can chose form this in order to develop ideas that I think are at the very least interesting. My ideas are linear and really take effect form the work or idea that comes before it. I am constantly having ideas and I can sometimes be working on 3,4 or 5 works at the same time collectively in the workshop home and studio or sometimes, depending on the exhibitions I have coming up work solidly on one piece.
I am full of contradictions as a person and in turn an artist, I pick up alter and embed different objects and materials within my work, i am interested in how we can suggest one thing or concept as an artist in many different ways.
Generally whilst making the work the form and surface may change, when the work starts to develop its own language then I try to reflect on this and exaggerate these aspects with a suggestive title that describes the work in relation to the original concept.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I remember a man called Keith Brown telling me that making art was like mining for gold, you have to keep digging and digging then sometimes you come across a seam of gold that you need to explore and unearth in order to see how big it is, where it goes and where it ends, I liked that! I like to think the different aspects of my work and ideas are buried randomly, they can be unearthed as well as buried at any time.
What is your studio like?
My studio is above a general store with a lot of passes by below. It is a reasonable size but I have to much in it, the floors are full of plaster and resin and paint and I often have complaints form neighbours for leaving dusty foot prints on the corridor outside. The rent is to expensive for what it is. You have actually put an image of my studio on your instagram story in the past.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
The most frustrating thing me me about making Art is the having to suppress my ideas, I have grande ideas that can’t me materialized because of money and space. I have a big kinetic sculpture in the pipeline so I hope to overcome this problem soon!
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
anti-romantic, melancholic, multi-faceted
What are you working on right now?
I am working on some smaller scale sculptures, one I hate and one for the moment I love, but both are interesting to me they are based around the ideas of last chances and little glimmers of hope and a chance of something better. I have recently been making items out of clay which I am enjoying, this quite classical and historic process and material is hidden by the treatment of its surface which I quite like, something kind of colliding when referenced with time.