Zoe Austin - Artist Profile
I am a contemporary mixed media textile sculptor and videographer, primarily concerned with issues surrounding domesticity, femininity and gender presentation. Being drawn to vintage and retro objects, I am strongly influenced by the things I choose to surround myself with and the societal implications of gender surrounding them.
-Bury College, 2015 - 2017: Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design. Grade: Distinction.
-Leeds Arts University, 2018 - Current: BA (Hons) Fine Art.
-Whitworth Art Gallery, Summer 2015.
-Venture Arts, 2015-2017.
- Adobe Indesign, Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere Pro.
- Microsoft PowerPoint.
- 20:20, 20/02/20 - 05/03/20
-And/Now!, 07/05/20 - Current
-The Uncanny Kitchen, 16/05/20 - Current
Past Positioning Statement Extract
My work is informed by perceptions of comfort and the transitional journey an object can take from being perceived as comfortable to uncomfortable. I selected this position due to my personal discomfort of being away from home whilst at university and the struggle of adapting to independent life. I am considering the significance of colour and pattern particularly during the 1970’s. I personally associate this era with the house I grew up in as my parents’ nostalgia of growing up in the 1970’s influences their current design choices within the home. It is described by Bony as ‘a decade of new experience and freedom’ (2005, p.9). I however, find the interior design of the 1970’s to be incredibly limited and visually unappealing despite my sentimental ties to it. These are therefore the materials I am most intrigued by as I am naturally drawn to the typically unhomely that I personally consider homely. The fabrics, colours and patterns I use are synonymous with the past and by using them in contemporary art, they have a particularly eerie quality as they appear out of place in a modern setting. With the physical and visual discomfort in mind, I have started to think about emotions and what it is about the colours used within my work that are intended to evoke an uncomfortable response.
The ‘Unheimlich’, addressed in The Uncanny (Freud, S. 1919) is described by the author as being ‘the opposite of Heimlich, Heimisch meaning ‘’familiar’’, ‘’native’’, ‘’belonging to the home’’ (1919, p.2). This is an influential concept as further sculptures I have produced are recognizable as furniture, however take a more abstract and unfamiliar form. I personally associate homeliness with familiarity and consistency and my work challenges these expectations by making homely objects unhomely.
My sculptures are created in a way that makes them appear imperfect, corrupting pieces that have the potential to be mathematically perfect structures. Similarly to Baas in relation to his own work, ‘whatever I do, it’s always slightly off’ (2018) my work possesses an obscure quality whilst maintaining its bleak appearance. This is inspired by the mundane having been suggested as something that attracts the attention of those who are uninterested by notions of perfection (TwoPoints.net, 2012).
I am additionally going to continue experimenting with methods of documenting the unnatural motion of my sculptures, allowing them to move on their own. My long exposure photography brings further depth to the work by transforming my art outside of the object and giving it a further quality of eeriness. I am also interested in the ways that furniture is used in film as a medium through which supernatural presences make themselves known and therefore, transforming a homely environment in to quite the opposite for residents of the home. By making my objects automobile, the intention is to achieve a similar air of discomfort that one might experience when watching a horror film. I will achieve this through the use of stop motion animation.
The aim of my sculptures is to achieve a confusing sensation of comfort and familiarity with an air of uncanny discomfort. They question what it is exactly that the home means to us and how our ideals of comfort are generalized and have changed over time. This is intended to encourage nostalgia in older generations and discomfort in younger audiences who may only recognize this from the homes of their elders, or era specific horror films such as The Conjuring (2013) which is set in 1971.