PAINTING / PATINA / SITE-SPECIFIFC / DERELICT / EXHIBITION
Esme Stewart is a 4th Year Painting and Printmaking student studying at GSA. Find out what’s in a day for Esme; through experimentation, the role of ritual and repetition she considers and reflects on actions unseen.
Tell us a bit about yourself and where you're based.
I (she/her) am a fourth year student at GSA on the painting and printmaking course but am currently making work that involves neither painting or printmaking in the traditional sense haha. Based in Sunny Glasgow!
What do you make & how do you make it?
My recent work is centred around ritual and repeated actions. My current project involves making a series of copper patina paintings, which I’m hoping to display as part of an installation. This is a really new way of working for me and somewhat removed from traditional painting techniques, but it’s been exciting for me to approach my work in a more playful way. I really enjoyed the process of experimenting with different substances and materials to achieve different types of patination.
Through repeating the making process daily, I have formed a ritual and the habit of making the plates is now second nature. I’m interested in the way the patinas come out totally different every time, so that there is an element of the work that is out of my control. There’s a push and pull between regulating the process and succumbing to the outcome, no matter the result. On a larger scale the plates (individually A5 in scale) have quite an overbearing, excessive appearance.
Alongside this I have been making zines which is a completely new thing for me but something I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve played around with leaving copies in a site and returning to find them taken. I like the ideas surrounding anonymity of myself and the person who picked it up, and this weird way of sharing art with a stranger.
What has been your biggest challenge to navigate?
Working from home, I don’t have a lot of space to play around with installation setups, so my project has become very site specific as a result. I’m working a lot with setting up my work outdoors which can be challenging at times. Both because of Glasgow’s unpredictable weather but also having to get comfortable with strangers watching (this is something I’m not so good with haha)
How do you think your practice sits in today's context?
The work I’m making is in response in part to this derelict car that I’ve sort of obsessed over for the past 5 months. I’m really fascinated by the erosion process and the way other people interact with it while I’m not there (thinking about things unseen), whether that’s by tagging it or taking it apart more. I guess in some ways the work has become a commentary on this culture of flytipping and vandalising and leaving things to rot. But as well the way I’m interacting with the space is very representative of the pandemic, and the way our relationship with the outdoors has changed. We’re forced to spend a lot of time in these empty spaces. With the shops and pubs closed, you have to make your own fun and try to get out of the house as much as possible so you don’t go crazy. I don’t know if I would have taken as much interest in this site if there were all the usual distractions.
What's next on your practice-agenda? Goals, projects or any upcoming shows perhaps?
I’m hoping to be a part of an outdoor exhibition that is planned to take place soon (now that Spring is finally here yay!). Separately from that, just hoping the GSA covid times degree show is a good platform to boost my work and be able to talk to more people about what I’ve been doing the past year
Favourite studio food?
Definitely cakes, cookies that sort of thing.
Something interesting you have seen this week?
I’ve been watching this Spanish drama called Money Heist which is pretty interesting, if a little off topic.
Final words of advice for your peers?
If you’ve made it through this year, one of the most challenging years for a lot of people, just keep doing what you’re doing!
Keep up to date on Esme's work by following her on Instagram at @esme_stewart.