Image: Tom Lovelace interviewed for Unseen

Tom Lovelace interviewed for Unseen

"When did you start to pursue your artistic career? Was there a trigger?

I started in 2007. I had spent the previous three years in my studio planning, refining and simply thinking about what kind of work I wanted to make and pursue. I distinctly remember the trigger too: I was sitting in a library in London and I had my light bulb moment! From that day I became totally driven to complete that initial idea (project Unit 2) and I haven't looked back.

Where do you find inspiration for your work? Do you have a special routine that helps you think? A favourite place to go?

I am constantly thinking about and analysing my work, how it can be developed and pushed forward. I am obsessed with image making. I spend a lot of time in museums and galleries, looking at both contemporary and historical developments and I think this is apparent in my work in the sense that it is often referential to the fine arts. The development of Minimalism in the 60s and the use of everyday objects and materials continues to inspire me. I also find inspiration from encounters with banality in the everyday and industrial landscape. I try to utilise materials to create new visions and unexpected forms and functions.

A favourite time and place is when I am travelling by train. There is something very calming about remaining static whilst slipping through the countryside or city; being constantly stimulated by the landscape and movements outside. In the midst of a project I often take a one day return trip to a random city which allows me to think and breathe. The highlight being the train journey!

What do you wish to communicate with your photographs? What would you like people to take away from your work?

I attempt to create important photographs. My work is often viewed as humorous or playful, but it has a serious undertone. I simply strive to create photographs that will hopefully contribute to the history of the medium. That is the mission. 

How would you describe your work? What would you say is its most prominent theme

I try to create and present photographic conundrums: pictures which both confuse and push the medium. I fuse photography with sculpture and performance so my pictures act as documents of highly orchestrated events and scenes. I find myself constantly drawn to industrial, man-made landscapes and this has heavily influenced the aesthetic I work within. This is where my actions and interventions are played out.

Recently I've been researching and making work about the 'readymade': using found objects and materials as starting points to make photographs.

What are your thoughts on collecting photographs? Are you a collector yourself?

Collecting photographs has been key to the history of the medium. Without collections we (artists and viewers) would have no reference points or enjoyment of what our predecessors have created. Collections and collecting is paramount. I try to collect myself: photographs and books, but predominantly my funds are put straight back into my practice so I can continue to make work.

How do you feel about the importance of prints in relation to collecting? In today's image-laden world, what do you think it is that makes a physical photo so valuable?

Photography and the print go hand in hand. The negative or file are the foundations for the physical print. The print is where the work lives and breathes so it is very important. The question of the physical print is particularly interesting for me at the moment as I recently staged a live performance at Les Rencontres d'Arles. Essentially I opened my working process up and created live actions in front of festival visitors. Interestingly, some of the most intriguing documentation came from camera phones. And now I am left with a question of how I can use these relatively low resolution, digital images.

What are your expectations for Unseen?

I am looking forward to exhibiting with the other artists Flowers are showing. I think it will be a really stimulating display. I hope people will enjoy my work and I also hope to stumble across new photography and people. It is what keeps me going, keeps me pushing ideas. And the beauty of the fair is the celebration of the print. It is a chance to get up close and personal to pictures which one might have previously only encountered online.

Thank you Tom for this interview! We look forward to welcoming you at Unseen."



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