PAST: OWNERSHIP OF INFORMATION
55x69cm, illustration on holographic print
Click on the thumbnails to view full image
ABOUT THE WORK
In Rachel's own words
I wanted to address the symbiotic relationship between the dual paradigms of our online and offline lives. As society has evolved, so it has required increasingly open communication systems alongside freedom from conventional life, but at what cost?
As we look upon our companion devices, our constant technological sidekicks, we are transported to a realm of symbolism, advertisement, and peer pressure. Here, influencer culture is our lens.
Sensory Overload is designed to captivate the eye, drawing the viewer deeper into a vast ocean of cookies, data sharing, and most importantly a penetrating eye into an unseen trade.
Parts of the data protection law have been translated into a coding language and embedded into the holographic parts of the print.
Greater Manchester, England
Rachel explores the relationship between the visual complexities of story telling and unseen behaviours. With influences as diverse as 'Nietzshe' and 'John Cage', new variations are generated from both opaque and transparent textures. Born post ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, experiencing metaphysical contradictions within cultural identity, she developed an innate sense of curiosity for a world of ongoing struggle with equilibrium and the adversity that reforms social realities.
We had a short chat with Rachel to get to know her better
What is your creative background? How did you start making art?
I come from a family of artists and practitioners so I’ve always been exposed to it from a young age. My mom was a ceramicist, and then became an art teacher. She was actually my main art teacher from key stage 3 through to GCSEs. My Grandmother was a seamstress and a tailor and my Grandad was a lace designer. We still have all of his books - he was very mathematical, the books contain precise instructions on how to make the patterns by hand.
In school I excelled in the arts, not just visual arts but also theatre and film. When I was 17 I did a week long internship at a BBC production, and shadowed the costume designer Maggie Donnely. Working in the film industry, I got hooked on the technical aspects of filmmaking. More involved with how stories are represented through dress. Fashion and costume are heavy with symbolism - it is a way of pegging women into certain roles. You can narrate so much of a story through your choice of colour palette for the clothing for example.
At university I did costume and film, and I’ve worked with some very famous people like Rihanna and Lady Gaga. Eventually I moved to conceptual art, because I was always intrigued by the ecology of our world, science and natural phenomena and I felt like conceptual art gave me more room to explore all these topics.
What were some of your early influences?
I always enjoyed reading stories that create moving images in my head, and looking at illustrators like Arthur Rackham and his fairy tale collection or Ralph Steadman with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s so impressive how they can capture the temperament of the scene through texture, or movement or a facial expression. To put all that information into a still image is really quite difficult, and that’s why illustration has been a massive part of my artistic journey.
Our family holidays always involved going to galleries and museums, around different parts of the world. There is a common theme in European art - symbolism plays a very big part in it, it’s a form of communication really. My work is always layered and full of symbolism, I try to engage the viewer visually so I can provoke questioning in the mind.
What stimulates and inspires you to create?
English Literature is still a favourite. It stimulates the part of the brain that gets you asking questions like where, why, when - it's a massive thing throughout my work. Reading stories that are packed full of symbolism and historical content helps me learn more and adds depth to my thinking.
I am fascinated by history and cultural environments. I like finding patterns in politics, society, our behaviours - it really stimulates the analytical part of my brain. I am always curious, I like to deconstruct and then reassemble concepts and ideas.
Materials that I use also dictate the subjects that I think about and research. I like to say that I work in science and communication through visual aesthetics.
What’s the medium you are working in now?
At the moment I am working with single use plastic from domestic waste. I melt it and reform it into organic shapes or shapes that are representative of things like corals or jellyfish. Aside from being an abundant resource, there is also something really tantalizing about the chemical interaction that happens during the burning process. I have no control over how it melts and I can’t touch it - it’s really provocative. I like the tactile nature of it.
What would you say is the key to your creative process?
Experimentation and collaboration are the biggest parts of my process. I do research and I write the ideas down, but to develop them I have a lot of cross-industry discussions. I love talking to people because it can spur a totally different train of thought, and I’ve had many chance encounters with scientists and technologists.
Doing things with my hands is also important - that’s the best way for me to learn and to really understand a concept. I use anything I have available to explore the idea - pencil, textile, 3D objects.
Ultimately I am interested in critical interaction. I use storytelling and layering to get people to interact with the piece and questions what it is.