by Iona Kirk
Annabelle Richmond-Wright’s politically charged sculptural and installation-based practice revolves around the phenomena of the human condition. Often Annabelle will begin with an idea inspired by the observations and encounters of life and utilise materials or found objects based on its materiality and contextual language it speaks. Her latest work seeks to explore the disharmony between human consciousness and the sociopolitical concerns of capitalism and digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and surveillance.
Iona: Hello and welcome, would you like to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your practice?
Annabelle: Hi! yeah, I am Annabelle a Leeds based artist and I am in my last year of uni at Leeds Art University. I am mostly working with sculpture and installation. I have done performance in the past which I would like to do more of and I feel I will hopefully do more of that in the future. At the moment I am looking into the disharmony between human consciousness and the sociopolitical concerns of capitalism and digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and surveillance. This body of work sees themselves as individual pieces but hopefully these will come together to form an installation for the degree show. If hopefully I get a degree show.
Both: Fingers crossed!
I: Do you have any motivations and/or inspirations as an emerging artist and what made you want to do this?
A: Well, why do I want to be an artist? Well I didn’t really want to, in the start I tried to avoid it actually. I wanted to be a lawyer and that ended up not working for me so I thought yeah, I shall do art. And it is just one of those things that resonates with you as a person and I love creating and to inspire and I love to be inspired. I also always want to learn and learn from others, I think that creativity is such a good way to do that.
I: It is really interesting you say that as I did something similar, I wanted to do physics and then suddenly found myself making art.
A: Yeah like this is you, this is what you always wanted to do. You often find yourself following what other people want you to do, from the influence of your family or wanting to have a good job with lots of money and stability. It was the same with me with the lawyer thing, I thought yeah I shall earn lots of money and that is what I want. But then you realise and you find yourself, don’t you. When you are a creative soul it is your calling and you cannot ignore it, if you do ignore it you are just gonna be unhappy I think.
I: How has lockdown affected your practice and your studies, have there been any changes to your creativity?
A: Well it affected my practice as soon as it came in because at the time I was in the second year, so my end of year show and all the other summer exhibitions got cancelled. And the work that I was making at the end of second year, I felt like it just kind of got hacked off because I was not able to realise it through exhibition. When I started back at university again, things like the lecturers not being allowed to return and those little kind of chats to someone for 5-10 minutes just in the corridor were lost; that was really valuable to me. They have kept a lot of the workshops and the facilities open which has been good but it has altered it in a social way. Things like being able to attend exhibitions and stuff, it’s definitely affected it but I am keeping high spirits!
I: Hopefully we are over the tough bit now!
A: I really do honestly hope that it’s over this summer.
I: I feel like such an important part of the art world is conversing with other creatives and it is completely different online. It doesn’t have the same casualty about it.
A: Yeah, and you can’t really meet people in person and go to exhibitions. They really aren’t the same online whatever anybody says, an online exhibition is just shit.
I: You would have the online documentation anyway even if it was in person.
I: Okay a slightly silly question but what is your go to meal deal?
A: I don’t have a particular arrangement of foods but boots do the best meal deal and I have had a lot of people agree with me on that.
I: You can always get such a good deal at boots too!
A: Yeah yeah! If you bought them all individually it’s like £7 or £8 and then you do it from the meal deal and it is like £3.50! Feels like you are saving money when you probably haven’t.
I: What are your three essential things/objects/materials that you tend to use to start off your projects?
A: It’s always got to be a sketchbook and something to write with like a pen, pencil or crayon. I usually start with an idea really and then I start to write about it, then write about the associations of it with things; and then maybe draw my ideas. So those are the first two things and then what goes down well with that is a cup of strong black coffee, yeah. Those are my three main things.
I: I like the coffee, I think that’s good advice.
A: It is so needed.
I: Another silly question, what is your go to easter egg?
A: Anything by Lindt, I’m not fussy which flavour but anything by Lindt.
I: Do you have a reading/watch list that you believe all artists should look at.
A: I don’t have an essential reading list for all artists but I have been reading the book by Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley called ‘What They Didn’t Teach you in Art School’ it is designed for emerging artists fresh out of graduating. I have been reading bits of that recently and I have found it to be so so essential, just starting out you know even stuff like writing personal/artist statements tips and how to have an online presence. I really think everyone should have that book.
Also the book by Delphian called ‘Navigating The Art World Professional Practice for the Early Career Artist’ is a really good one. They are both just really nice little books that are so easy to read, it is so different to the contextual theory jargon books that I have been reading for the past 3 years. It is so nice to just read something light and easy.
I: Really love your work ‘Rubber Johnnies’ would you like to tell us a bit more about them?
A: Thanks! At the time I was making work about the cross over between health and safety, gender and sexuality and I figured that traffic cones are quite phallic. They are often associated with jobs that are considered mens work like, road workers, construction workers, health and safety officers. I realised that traffic cones are there to preserve lives and to keep people from falling into danger. So when I casted the traffic cone, I thought using latex would be humorous as a latex traffic cone is redundant. I was also quite angry at bureaucracy at the time. [Laughs]
I: That’s true a latex traffic cone would be a massive trip hazard.
A: Yeah yeah! Because it is not doing its job. It would just deflate or pop.
That is another thing, I wanted to exhibit them over the past year. It never got it done because of lockdown and then that summer of being slightly free. I want to return to a lot of things really.
I: They would be really cool to see in an exhibition setting!
A: I would love to just have them on the street next to real road workers.
I: I really love it when art gets returned to almost, but not quite its natural habitat.
A: It’s quite rebellious.
I: Do you have a quote of the week, it can be super cheesy if you want!
A: ‘Perfection takes patiences.’I was getting annoyed earlier whilst I was trying to make this conveyor belt and you know when you find yourself getting really vexed so I just thought perfection takes patiences.
I: Thank you for talking with me!
A: Thank you for having me!!
Find Annabelle at-
Links to books recommended –
‘What They Didn’t Teach you in Art School’ by Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley –
‘Navigating The Art World Professional Practice for the Early Career Artist’ by Delphian –