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Posted on July 13th 2014 on 10:22pm

Sunday 10th March 2013Interview with Newcastle Free Press



NFP meets local artist Ben Applegarth, nominee for the Aesthetica Art Prize. Having graduated from Newcastle University with a BA Fine Art, he talks about his experiences as an emerging artist and his shortlisted piece, Tangential Meditation.



Hi Ben, so tell me a bit about you and your work?



Well I’ve got a few different strands of work I maintain. The piece that got in is a sculpture based around Parabolas and using them to create artificial 3D shapes. I’d tried it a couple of times before with trying to make a sphere in a box: elastic strings in straights lines using the box as the edge to hold everything in place. But that didn’t quite succeed and didn’t quite fail, because obviously I hadn’t realised that I’d still need to be able to get my hand inside the box in order to thread it through. So it was only 5 sides of the cube, it ended up being just sort of sheets of the string put together. But when it came to the cone I’d already figured that out so I managed to leave myself a little hole to actually work through. I’d still like to try and remake the cone because it’s just a little bit messy around the edges, and that Perspex was cut on a table so it ended up being very sharp so there’s a bit of my blood on each of the corners.



So how big is the actual piece then?



51cm cubed. It seemed like it would be a manageable size when I thought of it but when it’s built it’s very tricky to carry around.
I’ve also got an ongoing project of about a year and a half, maybe 2 years, of taking macro photographs of oil paint under slides. Using Perspex because it’s pretty easy to clean and you can see through it. That kind of evolved into making these massive panoramas. I ended up with things that were kind of like space, sort of nebulas and stuff.

And the last one is to do with music which I haven’t actually got back to in quite a while but it was in effect transposing sheet music into pure blocks of colour. In its simplest form: the lowest note on the piano is number 1 and the highest is 88 and each bar is an average, well it depends which grid its set out in, but its right hand on top left on the bottom as it is in sheet music. The middle is sort of an average out, so you can see, if it maintains perfectly balanced right in the middle you see, then it’ll remain cyan in colour in the middle band. But if you set it higher than that then it gets more blue, then you know that the entire song shifts upwards.



So you graduated from Newcastle University last July, since then have you been working full time on this?



I have to admit that when I finished the degree show, then when we took it down to London to a smaller version of the degree show, after than I felt a bit, I struggle to find the word, but disenfranchised. Its such a shift from having a place to go into uni and just carrying on with things, to having to go to a different part of a room in your flat and try to make things. I kept sending stuff to competitions and prizes and what have you.



And then eventually this! So are you working from home at the moment then?



Yes, well my family lives about 20 miles west so I’ve got an attic to play around with which is sort of where I’m set up. There’s sort of boxes and things, and it’s not ideal, the cat keeps bothering me too.



Do you have much experience of the arts scene within Newcastle then?



A little bit, I’ve had 3 or 4 group shows up here in various places, one in Durham. But it was mainly with Newcastle students in my year as well. It was pretty easy with a group, a solo show its a bit trickier. That’s because you have to find a space that really suits the work you’re making, because once you’re finished you’re not thinking about making everything as big and impressive as possible. It’s a good scene, I think I was talking about this with a friend the other day and its getting to the point where you can’t throw a stone and not hit an empty shop that’s been turned into some sort of gallery part time. It is pretty cool.



Tell me a little bit about how it felt to be nominated for the award.



It was disbelief to begin with, I didn’t quite register what it said. A few days later, maybe a week, I looked back at the email and thought about what it meant. So yea, it was really exciting. Inspired me to actually carry on more, as I wasn’t doing a whole lot, mostly sort of planning other works. I work a lot with vector drawing programmes, like Adobe Illustrator.



So it sounds like you work with quite a lot of different mediums, and are varied in what you do. Is that 

something that keeps you inspired, changing and playing around with new things?



I think it used to be that after several months working on one thing I just needed to do something that was utterly different to keep myself sane. Originally the music project took like a certain state of mind to actually think about what I was doing in it.



Is the mathematical and scientific way of working way a recurring theme then?



I do prefer to work methodically, maybe not clinically. Well, back in school around 6th form, I was mostly just working however I felt. At that time they sort of give you a bit of a free reign, but quite a formal structure, so I started doing a very basic music project. It was listening to a song over and over and trying to paint everything I was hearing in abstract terms. About halfway through second year of uni I started to realise that a half of the time is spent thinking about what to do, and the other half is making it. 
I originally came up with ways of working as opposed to things to work on, as a way of imposing structures on myself. I was a big fan of using the word ‘experiment’ when I was making things, I had a lot of fun reading a school supply website for prism retort stands and lasers. Sort of creating images from scratch, saying I could only use the shape of prism or I could only have light coming from one side and the camera in one position. And from there sort of playing around stretching the boundaries of that. From that point it became easier, once I had an idea I had a whole host of ways of working that I can apply to it.



Where do you see your work going next?



Well I’m carrying on with the spacey-paint-panorama photographs, as I’ve only really photographed four of the sort of splodges of paint I’ve been using. It was a big sheet, so I thought I know what will make the best use of this space, I need to do at least a dozen or so different things on the sheet. So I did, squashed it, some turned out horribly but might be interesting close up, others looked interesting. But the most interesting ones to begin with are the ones I started doing, there’s only been about 3 maybe 4 of those I’ve done so far so I’ve still got that sheet to work through.

I’ve got another one involving the music thing, it’s a bit complicated and I don’t know how to do it. It’s basically the exact opposite, so starting with an animation of different colours and shapes and I’m hoping to show it to different musicians in a sort of blind study to see if, if they’re shown the exact same thing, they come out with some sort of coherent musical composition. I think I need to do some sort of Derren Brown type things really, figure out the sort of people I need for it and guess how they might react.

A few other ideas that have just started off as sort of pictures in my head and I need to work my way up to justifying them. I wanted to plant half a car into a wall and, you know how in films and tv and it looks like they’re travelling, but it’s just that screen that’s scrolling past or sometimes a projection that’s just moving past. So I wanted to project that along the outside of the car. But that’s a tricky one to do, once I’ve started that I have to commit to that.



Any Exhibitions coming up?



The preview is Thursday (7 March) in York St Mary’s, about 10 minutes from the station, and runs until 28th April. I have no other exhibitions planned for the foreseeable future. Probably in a month’s time I’ll force myself to do something, my girlfriend’s going on Erasmus as of next week so I’ll have a lot of free time and I’ll have to keep myself busy.



Well Good Luck in the Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, it was lovely to chat to you!

The Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition is on display at York St Mary’s from 8 March – 28 April.

Posted on March 10th 2013 on 08:06pm

Thursday 07th March 2013Interview with Aesthetica Magazine


Aesthetica Art Prize Interview: Ben Applegarth

The Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition opens in just two days, the Art Prize is a celebration of excellence in art from across the world, offering artists the opportunity to showcase their work to wider audiences and further their involvement in the international art world. Previous finalists include Julia Vogl, who was shortlisted for New Sensations – Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4′s Prize – and has exhibited at Zabludowicz Collection; Marcus Jansen, a leading modern expressionist who joined a legacy of artists by featuring in Absolut Vodka’s artistic campaigns, and Bernat Millet, also shortlisted for National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. The 100 longlisted artists are published in the Aesthetica Art Prize Annual and the shortlisted artists will appear in an exhibition at York St Mary’s from 8 March until 28 April. We speak to Ben Applegarth, a British Artist, who graduated from Newcastle University with a BA in Fine Art in 2012. His long-listed work, Tangential Meditation is mostly concerned semiotics and space.

A: Your entered piece is sculpture, why do you choose to use that medium?
BA: I don’t actually end up working with sculpture that often, it usually comes from an idea that has been in my head for a while and has had time to evolve into something solid before I decide it would be an appropriate work. When an idea has gone through that gestation period I already have some properties in mind for the object, and that makes it easier to pick materials to design it. For a number of years I had been creating things that were, for the most part, purely for aesthetic value, and in simplifying my creative aims I could focus on the process and methodology of generating works. I’d have investigations laid out like lab experiments, arbitrarily limiting what materials or objects I could use for each experiment. It took a while to adopt this regime of self-imposed boundaries but I believe it’s helped me immensely. From an early point in an idea’s existence I can now easily apply these techniques and critical observations to produce something that can grow beyond pure aesthetics and take on more meaning. Being able to plan in such a methodical way makes sculpture an excellent medium, when I have an idea that is interesting enough.

A: What other artistic forms do you work with?
BA: I work predominantly with photographs/digital composites,  and for the past 18 months I have been creating a series of macro photographs of materials wedged between perspex. I have established an archive of a large number of different paints, mostly oils as it’s a medium I am very familiar with. When I first developed an interest in art it was painting that held the greatest attraction to me, and it was the first medium I took on. The paint-photographs began to take on interesting qualities and certain consistencies and pigments began to look like spatial phenomena or astronomical objects. After this, it became a process of creating tiny paintings that presented great complexity where the original size was blown up many times – so blocks of colour around 1 x 2 cm can end up to 2 – 4 metres wide. I had to build and perfect a camera rig that would allow the camera to move in all three directions independently and to pan across the paintings in tiny increments. That has been my main focus, but I try to maintain strands of radically different ideas. These ideas have included site-specific light installations and an evolving project based around converting or “transposing” sheet music into visual forms. The sheet music becomes static grids containing tones of colour that require a “key” and animations to understand how the piece of music evolves over time.

A: How do you begin a sculpture?
BA: The starting point for Tangential Meditation was a brief that my friend had prepared for a two-part exhibition he was planning. The exact wording is hard to recall, but the understanding I took away from it was that it concerned semiotics and space. At the time I was playing around with vector-based drawings and creating simple illusions of 3-dimensionality with straight lines on a flat surface and after researching some ideas, and with spatial phenomena still fresh in my mind from the ongoing macro paintings, I reached a point where I wanted to use a physics model as a basis for some sort of construct. I remember flicking through a magazine a couple of years previously and coming across an article featuring a sculpture by Marilene Oliver, it was made up of printed layers of full body MRI scans stacked in such a way as to create the illusion of the physical presence of a person. I’d mostly forgotten about it until I had drawn out cross sections of a simple shape and was wondering how to go about creating a similar effect. It had some of the desirable qualities of what I wanted to make, but I felt it also needed to be a piece that you could look at from any angle and still see a shape that wasn’t actually there. Eventually I decided upon making a perspex box and using thread to mark the straight lines, it was still faithful to my original ideas but it elevated them in a way that only a sculpture could.

A: How does it feel to be part of the Aesthetica Art Prize?
BA: It feels incredible, it was quite a shock to hear I had made it into the longlist and it did take a while for it to sink in. When I told a few friends it suddenly became real. It was a huge boost to my confidence and has further inspired me to persist wholeheartedly with my work. The standard of all the other work in the competition and the previous year’s winners is pretty staggering and it is such an honour to even get through the first stage of the competition.

A: Which artists have inspired you?
BA: While I have no doubt that nearly all the artists I look at have inspired me in some way, there are a few artists who I am a big fan of; Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Dan Flavin, the photography duo Robert and Shana Parkeharrison, Norman McLaren and Frans Lanting. I went to the last Venice Bienialle and amassed a large list of artists I wanted to keep an eye on, including Markus Schinwald and Haroon Mirza. More recently, I have really enjoyed the work of Mariko Mori. A lot of the time I also find myself inspired by my friends (most of whom are fellow artists), their opinions usually open up really exciting ideas.

A: What do you have planned for the future?
BA: I’m juggling a few things around in my head at the moment. I am hoping to set up a more permanent studio/workshop and I have also got a few spaces and people I would like to approach about holding some one-off exhibitions. There’s a project or two that would require some willing musicians which is related to the other music project I mentioned. However, that project would require some considerable planning and research even though it has been on my to-do list for a while.

Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, 8 March – 28 April, York St Mary’s, York.

Posted on March 07th 2013 on 08:02pm

Wednesday 06th March 2013Aesthetica Press Release: Long listed

Local Artist to be exhibited in Aesthetica Art Prize’s First Major Exhibition this Spring
8 March – 28 April
(Private View: 7 March)
Local artist Ben Applegarth is to be featured in an international art show in York this spring as the Aesthetica Art Prize launches its first major exhibition. Selected from over 3000 entries, Ben earned his place in the Aesthetica Art Prize longlist of 100 artists with an innovative and outstanding submission, and will have his work projected in the enchanting setting of York St Mary’s – York Art Gallery’s contemporary art space.
Ben’s striking piece will be juxtaposed with the medieval setting of York St Mary’s in an exhibition which challenges the notion of the “white cube” and delivers a unique experience. This new visual context showcases Ben’s work alongside other international rising stars of the art world in a major event.
Organised by Aesthetica Magazine, the international art and culture publication, the Art Prize is a showcase for emerging and contemporary artists internationally, bringing their work to a wider audience. Anticipating the success of the Aesthetica Art Prize’s inaugural exhibition, Cherie Federico , Editor of Aesthetica Magazine and Art Prize judge, explains what the show represents for her: “I am delighted to bring these artists’ works to the city. Moreover, the nature of many of the pieces comments upon life in the 21st century, evoking a deeper meaning, and reflection of the world in which we live.”
The Aesthetica Art Prize has been a fantastic opportunity for up-and-coming names in international contemporary art to gain recognition for their work in the past. With this being the first year that the Art Prize has produced an exhibition, there is an added sense of promise and excitement surrounding Ben’s work and the success he may experience subsequently.
Previous entrants include Julia Vogl, who after winning the Aesthetica Art Prize last year went on to win the Catlin Art Prize, was shortlisted for New Sensations – Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4′s Prize – and has exhibited at Zabludowicz Collection. Vogl describes the impact the competition has had on her as an artist: “It has been a terrific boost to my confidence, especially at a time where being an artist is fiercely competitive and hard to finance.”
Other notable entrants include leading modern expressionist and 2011 finalist Marcus Jansen, who joined a legacy of artists by featuring in Absolut Vodka’s artistic campaigns, and Bernat Millet, finalist in 2012, who has also been shortlisted for National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.
World renowned British sculptor and Art Prize judge Kate MccGwire was impressed by the level of talent exhibited this year and is confident that we’ll be seeing more of these artists in the future: “I feel honoured to have been invited to judge the Aesthetica Art Prize; it has been a privilege to experience the breadth of work that the contemporary art scene has to offer and I look forward to seeing the development of these gifted artists over the coming years.”
The impressive list of judges who selected Ben for this year’s longlist includes influential art figures and curators: Cherie Federico , Editor of Aesthetica Magazine; Laura Turner, Curator at York Art Gallery; Frances Guy, Head of Collection and Exhibitions at The Hepworth Wakefield; Kate MccGwire, internationally renowned British Sculptor and Neeta Madahar, acclaimed British photographer represented by the Purdy Hicks Gallery, London.

The exhibition is a unique chance to view the international breadth of work entered into the Prize, and appreciate the range and quality of current artistic practice. The works highlight modern concerns, ranging from the environment and capitalism to traditional views on women and marginalised communities. Free admission provides exclusive access to this year’s longlist, including entrants from the USA , South Korea , Australia , Denmark and the UK . As well as being projected within the space, Ben will also feature in the accompanying Aesthetica Art Prize publication, on sale at the exhibition, online and at select galleries nationwide.
A Free Public Talk Programme will accompany the show, with speakers including 2011 winner Julia Vogl, who will discuss her practice and the works on display, and Editor of Aesthetica Magazine, Cherie Federico , who will provide an exclusive insight into the selection process.
York St Mary’s is open from 10am-4pm and admission is free. For more information visit www.yorkstmarys.org.uk or www.aestheticamagazine.com/artprize
Ben Applegarth and representatives of the Aesthetica Art Prize are available for interview.
York St Mary’s
York St Mary’s is a medieval church in the centre of York. It was de-consecrated in 1958 and in 2004 York Museums Trust opened it as a contemporary art venue. The first exhibition was a light crescendo, which brought together a number of works by international artists.
In 2005, York Museums Trust commissioned breathing space by Caroline Broadhead, followed by Echo by Susie MacMurray in 20062007-8 was The Memory of Place by Keiko Mukaide. In 2009 Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings used shards of medieval pottery from the Yorkshire Museum to create an installation Five Sistersinspired by the window of the same name at York Minster. In 2010 Susan Stockwell installed Flood made from thousands of disused computer components, while last year saw Cornelia Parker’s Thirty Pieces of Silverdisplayed, on loan from Tate.
Aesthetica Magazine
Aesthetica is an internationally recognised brand, with a combined online and print audience of 140,000 worldwide. The brand engages with the arts both in the UK, Europe and further a field and Aesthetica’s editorial combines dynamic content with compelling critical debate, attracting a high-profile, culturally aware audience. Aesthetica is a respected voice in contemporary art and culture and is stocked through WH Smiths nationally, major galleries including Tate Modern, ICA and the Serpentine as well as being exported to 18 countries worldwide. Each issue covers visual art, film, music and performance and is published bi-monthly (6 times per year). For further information visit www.aestheticamagazine.com
Further information 
For interviews with any of the artists or judges please contact Rebecca Bowery on 01904629137 or email rebecca@aestheticamagazine.com

Aesthetica Magazine Ltd All Rights Reserved - Registered in England & Wales 
Registered Number : 06025418 
Registered Address : De Grey House, Exhibition Square, York, YO1 7HE. 

Posted on March 06th 2013 on 07:57pm
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