Joseph Scott & Robert Forrester - On flatting, the design process, and doing whatever the fuck you want.
By Eliza Webster
In advance of their upcoming show A Collection of Works at Skinroom in Frankton (opening Friday the 8th of April), I figured, what an opportunity to get to know the guys behind the work. Joseph Scott and Robert Forrester have turned up in the last couple of days with armfuls of branches and I’ve caught them lugging cinder blocks and chain up the stairs. In amongst the advance of displaced nature into the gallery have arrived some delicate works of copper wire and paper plates that balance the larger pieces beautifully, and they keep on coming! This show is set to be a ripper - come and join us in the chaos.
How long have you been working together? Have you worked together before?
Robert: How long ago did you move in?
Joseph: Late 2014? This is the first time, oh we did Trees At The Meteor together last year, so that was the first time. But yes, we spend a lot of time just sitting around talking, experimenting with stuff. We’re always constantly rearranging and making installations in the house.
R: We have this creative space that we’ve been nurturing so that we can do whatever we like – but it’s not too unreformed. But literally we’ll just be arranging stuff in the house, pushing stuff around you know, bread tags, bits of junk. And like Box City – that started on the mantelpiece, then it got moved to the fridge, then it got too big for the fridge so it went to the lounge…I guess there is a sense in the flat that has been nurtured that is being creative and doing whatever the fuck you like is totally acceptable so long as it’s not fucking stupid. And I really think that it works, I mean it’s worked for me, and definitely worked for Joseph.
J: That was the idea we wanted to bring into here [Skinroom].
R: I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of that. Like I mean we could come here for six weeks, easily, doing shit, crazy shit and it would just get more and more dense.
J: You bring the work in and that’s just whatever rubble we’ve got lying around, and then it’s an organizing exercise.
So it’s kind of like a design process?
J: Yeah… There was just a point where, while we were working at the flat we would just start up little installations in the bedrooms, so one day we would just set up a room, taking things and kind of curating some kind of area, and there would be a time where I would sleep in that room. We were test driving this show in the living room, so we moved everything out and painted it up and I slept in there and then I went to another bedroom and yeah, that’s where I work, so you’ve got things like that coming through – the process of shifting around, and then works from the garage and yeah different objects coming in from different places. So I’ll move round and give the works different identities and things like that.
So have you been making art forever, has that always been your thing? Or were there other plans?
J: Yeah I was always drawing as a kid and as a teenager - like I’d always be copying stuff, like off the TV. There was a point where I was studying, and because we had to, I was trying other things. And now, where I am now, Robbie has been pushing me to try more and more stuff.
R: The slave driver. I went to Hamilton Boy’s High, I stayed there till I was 15, then I went to Hillcrest High School. There was a friend of mine who was very fashionably and culturally aware way before anyone else I ever met ever: “Hey come to Hillcrest, its great!” So I turned up at Hillcrest and she left, which I though was hilariously funny. And so yeah I had a creative streak that was definitely my own and other people really noticed it… I mean I was interested in creating my own kind of stuff, like I was sewing my own clothes, oil painting and being quite flamboyant and colourful. It kind of expanded out from there; ended up in Christchurch, and it was great growing up in Christchurch in the nineties, I fell in with a really artistic crowd, played music, 2D, 3D. So to answer the question, yes. The first time I started using a camera I was about maybe 7 or 8, and then my dad threw the camera on the roof because I kept clicking it too much.
So would you say you have a specific practise now? Is there a thing you like to do?
R: Really what I want to do is teach people stuff. And facilitate them. And maybe help them find something that they are interested in doing, and then just in parallel with that, keep focusing on the things that I find interesting. And whether it’s art, or artistic, or creative.
Mr. Scott is my case I’m trying to activate and it’s been very interesting. I help a lot of people and I’m kind of waiting for that investment to come back.
So would you consider teaching as a job?
R: I definitely would consider teaching as a job, as a career choice for me, but I frankly can’t go through the hoops. To teach informally, yes. To even start something on my own away from the state then yeah. Actually I thought about starting a monastery! But more about science and art! And you go there and you only study science and art all the time.
Have you figured out your sort of practice, or are you still fiddling? Don’t plan to figure it out at all?
J: I feel like I am thinking a couple of shows ahead or something like that. I was involved with Casbah Gallery. I was one of the people doing that with Priscilla [McIntosh], Lisa [Rayner], Craig McClure, and Karl Bayly, and the deal was we each got to run a show, and then we’d help facilitate the other shows. So I spent all last year planning for that. I was constantly making things here and there, listing things. When Casbah stopped, we had to move out. I was kind of happy I didn’t manage to get that idea. I was constantly at that point: “oh there’s nowhere to show at the moment…” When I talked to Geoff [Clarke] about this [exhibition], he asked who else at the house was doing stuff, and I mentioned Robbie. So then we decided we’d do a show, and then that changed again because then there was another person working. I started thinking a bit more about that sort of workshopping thing that we’re always doing at the house, and again the idea changes. It’s good to have someone else to work off of as well, because it means you edit out, and what they do takes up the space that is missing in your work.
So my process comes together organically, it comes from staple ideas and attitudes that help me navigate themes.
So do you want to do this forever? Just keep making stuff?
J: Yeah. I mean I love it as well, even if you’re making stuff that isn’t as good. It gives you some sort of outlook on things, I like that sort of organisational conceptual stuff.
What would be your dream project?
J: I mean I like the idea of everything culminating in a really good thing, but hopefully that doesn’t happen really early on, then you fizzle out. I’d like to figure out some way of moving around a lot so you’re not always producing one thing, but you know wherever your practise is, you can look through and take care of more than one thing. You’re versatile enough to move around, interesting to look at instead of pressing the same button over and over again.
Any closing statements for the masses?
R: If you’re going to go study something, or you’re in the process of studying, it doesn’t really matter what you believe in, you should be learning from people that are competent. They’ll teach you how to learn, and maybe they’ll teach you how to learn in your chosen field, but they basically propel you forward. They should be ladders that take you to your place. I guess at the end of the day you have to have good teachers, it’s really important to be able to trust them. And they don’t have to be super fucking amazing on paper, they just have to be able to lead that class into productive happy stuff.
A Collection of Works opens on Friday the 8th of April at 6pm. Make sure you come along, bring your mum and dad.
Level 1, 123 Commerce St