Exhibition curator Si Smith chats with contributing artist Andrew Lister about the thundering words of the Church, moments of daftness, and the serious business of Play...
Si: Hi Andrew, and welcome to the exhibition blog.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Andrew: I am a studio holder at Patrick Studios in Leeds.
My work is essentially drawing, painting and constructed inlays that make use of many different found materials.
The subject matter of work in my exhibition last November in The Shed Gallery, Ilkley, was art history.
The work in my next exhibition in Batley Art Gallery is about the powerful and their weapons and their victims.*
Si: Your piece for the exhibition is called 'The Holy Lamb of Rauschenberg'... can you tell us about it?
Andrew: The Holy Lamb of Rauschenberg came into being when I was playing in an idle moment with my toys, a pile of toys that are a remnant of my junk dealing days.
But although it was made in careless way it does reflect two very important interests of mine: Christianity and Art History.
Robert Rauschenberg, long a favourite artist, famously put a vehicle tyre around a stuffed angora goat in one of his combines (see above)
Brought up going to church four times a week I have spent much of my adult life assessing and analysing my relationship with Christianity.
The Holy Lamb of God is for me a powerful image.
The power derives in no small way from the words of Blake sung many times in my childhood and youth.
It is therefore no surprise that in a moment of daftness I should put a tiny tyre round a tiny lamb and call it The Holy Lamb of Rauschenberg (below)...
Si: It's a lovely little (really little) piece, and I'm looking forward to seeing it in the exhibition, especially up against some of the larger works.
That contrast in scale is going to be really interesting...
Meanwhile - and picking up on something that you said there - I'm intrigued by the place that Playfulness has in your creative process...
Andrew: I did the writing part of my MA on art and play - the humour part, if you believe Freud, is a serious business!
My study was of aesthetic play and strangely what a hard task master it is.
I read bits of philosophy but mainly Schiller, Freud, Barthes and Marcuse. It strengthened my belief that the stronger the internal dialogue of the artwork the stronger the aesthetic.
In simple terms this means that, for example, political ideas are best excluded from the work because they make the dialogue external.
All games require rules or laws and in aesthetic play these rules evolve and demand recognition. Adherence to them gives the work integrity.
Si: And having a pile of toys and stuff to mess around and play with is, I guess, an important part of that creative game-playing...
Andrew: I bought and sold junk for 15/16 years from a shop, and I was left with a lot of interesting stuff which as Rauschenberg will testify I still make use of.The other legacy was the handling of so many objects hand made and manufactured usually of little monetary value. It allowed me to see so much quirky stuff and so many different ways of hand-making objects.
Si: At our exhibition last year, I remember you telling me that you visited St Edmund's when you were a pupil at Roundhay school (quite a few years ago now...) for school concerts and events.
I like that historical connection with the venue that you have there...
So one last thing that i was wondering about is your relationship to Christianity...
Andrew: I was a choir boy and this involved being in church 3,4,5 times a week.
As a child and young teenager I did not question the faith but fell out with the church because of the contradiction as I perceived it between the words in the church and actions outside it - of individuals and the corporate body.
I left the choir and left the church but with its words thundering on in my head.
Years later I had a compulsion to study the Texts and analysis and so come to some kind of conclusion about what I believed and what it meant to me.
My conclusion is not special: Jesus was a good man who is misrepresented.
What a destructive philosophy in the hands of the powerful, including the Church, has been concocted from his words.
Si: And I think that William Blake would probably agree with you there...
*Batley Library and Art Gallery
Batley WF17 5DA
Exhibition Dates: 7th November to 19th December 2016