London-based artist Euphrosyne Andrews employs her background in drawing and printmaking to develop engaging installations.
With an ongoing reference in her work to declining or disused public spaces, she interrogates human behaviour in relation to the historical purpose of place and within the situations she creates.
For her 2018 project, First Floor ↗, the artist worked with Plymouth Art Weekender to develop an installation with sculptures and printed matter, in response to Plymouth’s high street decline – a process she has seen many stages of while growing up in the city.
Andrews received Arts Council England funding to complete the work and used an a-n Artist Bursary 2018 to implement further research and make new connections in the South West region. She has written a blog about the research that underpins the project.
Could you explain the impetus behind researching the decline of retail spaces in Plymouth?
Retail spaces are where people congregate for social interaction, and during my childhood growing up in Plymouth such places shaped my experience of the city. Over the past decade Plymouth has seen losses to the high street with the closure of department stores, resulting in vast empty spaces in the city centre. The Art Weekender provided a great opportunity to draw upon the current climate and the impact of what is an ongoing shift in our consumer relationship with the high street. It also instigated conversation around the future of such retail space.
How are you executing your work in relation to this topic, and how has the a-n Artist Bursary helped?
First Floor ↗ referenced archetypal retail displays alongside an imagery archive from the former Derrys and Dingles department stores [in Plymouth]. The installation dramatised the nature of product display through sculptural works, examining the showroom as a space in which products are displayed and curated. Unique artworks fabricated through methods associated with commercial mass production reflected commonplace consumer items in their presentation.
The bursary provided focused time and support to produce a new body of work. By looking at the original model of the department store, not only as an example of a ‘third space’ but as a case study in the relationship between fine and applied arts, the result explored ideas around the artwork as product, the viewer as consumer and the mass-produced item as an object with bespoke value.
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Can you explain the connections your work makes with the idea of a ‘third space’?
Parallels between the retail and gallery environment are consistently present in my practice through the idea of a neutral ‘third space’, which is seen as separate from predominant surroundings within the home (first place) and work (second place). The term is described by American sociologist Ray Oldenburg as ‘The Great Good Place’; a social space crucial to our public life and community interaction.
Your background is in drawing and printmaking. How do your skills in these mediums become expansive both in installation, and in actualising printed matter and catalogues?
Printed exhibition texts and publications form an important part of my practice – they are an opportunity to display insight into research and archive material. With catalogues and carefully curated research documents I can tie together different strands within my work, presenting drawn proposals and plans alongside installations. Drawing also serves as a tool to collect and present information.
My relationship with printmaking stems from an interest in the multiple; motifs and patterns embedded in the history of decorative arts. I am intrigued by the craftsmanship of the medium, which is a direct contrast to the mass-produced products I often reference. Using print-based techniques I can play with connotations of functionality and domesticity, drawing upon the familiarity of the home.
For First Floor ↗ you drew parallels between the gallery space and the retail environment. Have you used a similar method of connecting such spaces in previous work?
This has been a strand within my practice since my solo exhibition, ‘From the Public Abode to the Private Facade’ at Glasgow’s Tontine House in 2015. In Alt For Damen, a work produced in 2017, I used a similar method to create an installation within the old administrative building of a large hydroelectric factory in the town of Ålvik, Norway.
The building was initially designed and built as a department store, yet was never used for this purpose. Instead it acted as office and living space for, predominantly male, engineers. The installation reimagined the original design of the building as a feminine, public space, proposing a functional community space for residents of the town today. Included artworks explored the traditional craft of weaving as a process that holds an uncertain position between fine and applied arts.
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What draws you towards studying human behaviour, and how is this pushed into making installations for people to interact with and walk around?
Through an interest in public and private, domestic and functional spaces my work studies our behaviour within given contexts. I am drawn to links between ornament and architecture. Politics and social behaviour as well as the history and design of art objects and artefacts also forms a large part of my research. I have spent time working from the wide range of museum collections in London, looking at the decorative arts and craft processes as a study of human behaviour.
By working with installation I can look at the design and content of spaces we inhabit. It’s about creating an immersive space for people to forge an engagement with the work, through a work’s use of space and the function of included objects.
1. Euphrosyne Andrews, First Floor ↗, 2018, exhibition handout; two colour offset printed in blue and bronze
2. Euphrosyne Andrews, First Floor ↗, 2018, detail of signed and editioned Jacquard Woven Towels (edition of 100)
3. Euphrosyne Andrews, First Floor ↗, 2018, Instagram post with detail of installation and exhibition handout
4. Euphrosyne Andrews, Velveteen, 2018, Furnishing Velvet and copper tubing with wall mounted drawings
5. Euphrosyne Andrews, Alt For Damen, 2017, Instagram post with detail of installation
6. Euphrosyne Andrews, The Lecture Hall: Noun, installation view
7. Euphrosyne Andrews, Beauty as Well as Bread, 2017, publication and accompanying manifesto
Euphrosyne Andrews is this month’s featured blogger on a-n’s Instagram.
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