Christopher Green is an artist based in Cornwall. He works with painting, books, and installations, conversing with domestic objects in creative ways. His works defy the mainstream logics of space, form, and materials. Green attended Arts Institute, Bournemouth (UK), and the Southampton Institute (UK). Recent exhibitions of his work include Unit 3, London (UK), 2019; Vitreous Humour, ALMA ZEVI (Italy); Wolfson College, Oxford (UK), 2017; 41/42, London (UK), 2017; Dynamite Projects, Surrey (UK), 2016; Hannah Barry Gallery, London (UK), 2016. Green’s most recent book, Professional Salad Vol. 1, was published in 2018.
Art organisations and individuals are launching a plethora of online initiatives to stay creative. Yet, a proper economical support has yet to be provided. What does it mean to be included in a project such as ‘O Sole Mio’ at Parasol unit foundation in London?
With an online exhibition like this, and a couple of others I’ve been working on, being invited to things during a time when a lot of organisations are technically shut is very reassuring and motivating. I was also pleased to be included in ALMA ZEVI’s Artist Takeovers on Instagram, which was another positive way to have some of my recent work and projects on view.
Can you share a sneak peek into what you will be doing / have done for the project?
I am sharing some new watercolour works that I made during a residency that my gallery ALMA ZEVI organises in Celerina, Switzerland. These watercolours offer an intricate unification of our outer and inner worlds. Made using melted snow, literally bringing the outside environment onto the page, the resulting coloured and carefully partitioned ‘windows’ become more like tiny portals. I was there in December 2019, not long before things with work and travel began to shift. We hope to be able to physically exhibit the new works soon.
Do you think this crisis will change us, and the art world permanently? Or will we go back to our hectic lives as soon as we will be allowed to?
I am sure that there will be lasting effects, with the obvious being that some younger or smaller galleries will be forced to close during the inevitable next recession. And many artists will be finding it even harder to continue their practice than they were already. It can be, and in many ways, it has always been, difficult for a lot of artists to secure studio spaces; to find and afford time and materials.
My studio practice is quite small, and my work takes a long time to make. Personally, I’ve never really pursued a hectic life! Because I relocated to west Cornwall in 2018, I already had a very different lifestyle from many artists in urban settings. In some ways, for better or for worse, my life is already a lot about ‘sheltering in place’. I’ve eschewed a busy life.
Are you working on something else at the moment?
I have been spending a lot of time, since last spring, repairing my house, which is going to incorporate my next studio as well as a project space.
How are you reacting to these particular circumstances? What have you learnt from it?
I’m currently learning a lot about historic houses and sustainable building techniques and materials! In particular building with granite stone and lime plaster. There’s a different sense of immediacy in the construction methods of the past – immediacy of location rather than of speed – using what is local and readily available. A pertinent message at this time.
How has the current situation impacted how you work — both in the method and ideologically?
During the quarantine, I have made a piece of music for a project called ‘Forced Collaboration’ (https://forcedcollaboration.org/Elya-Cohen-and-Christopher-P-Green), and I’ve also been collaborating with a friend on a custom guitar project, which will be a work exchange. I’m also working on a library project (https://l-i-e-booksetc.blogspot.com/), which we’re in the process of installing in the project space that I run, 41/42 (http://fortyone-fortytwo.blogspot.com/).
The situation has reinforced some of the decisions I was already making. So many artists are used to not having stability. I feel for those who are facing worse problems, the most vulnerable people, people with mental and physical disabilities, lost livelihoods, etc.
Do you see any silver linings in this crisis?
These aren’t exactly unprecedented times, and I think an awareness of history helps. Plagues, famines, wars, not to mention economic strife, are all such repeating crises. A reminder perhaps to keep some perspective.
Day to day, it’s good to see people taking action, taking matters into their own hands, I’m often looking in this direction anyway because I’ve always been interested in self-organising – in the D.I.Y. You do these things because they don’t exist already and because they’re intriguing.
Did you have any show / project planned that has been disrupted by the covid?
Just before the quarantine, I was working on an open studio exhibition during a short let at Porthmeor Studios in St Ives. Cornwall was quite slow in reacting to the situation, a lot of people were still opening galleries and going to work well into March. At the last minute I decided it would be best to make a video and share my exhibition online (https://vimeo.com/401627667). It was well-received, and I had a lot of positive and quite personal responses to it – I think this was exactly at the moment in time where a lot of things were changing.
By now, I would have been working on a new show with ALMA ZEVI. We were planning to collaborate in London to develop some larger versions of paper works that I made during the residency in Switzerland. These are works that I make using oil pastel and this particular group is based on the principles of Alpenflage: the camouflage used by the Swiss army.
What’s on your reading list and what book made the greatest impact on you?
- ‘In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching’ by D. Ouspensky
- ‘How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer’ by Sarah Bakewell
- ‘Self-Reliance’ by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- ‘Autoprogettazione’ by Enzo Mari
- ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’ by Hermann Hesse
What are you listening to / watching at the moment?