Laura Aldridge, you did your BA degree in Wimbledon College of Art and then an MFA in Glasgow School of Art, did you go from the BA straight to MFA or did you spend a few years in between? And if the later what did you do in-between your degrees?
I had planned to go straight to an MFA from my BA, but when I visited Glasgow, the course leader at the time, Sam Ainsley told me not to — she told me its better to be in the world for a bit, to get some experience and to be sure that an MFA is what you want. So i stayed in London, worked at the serpentine gallery as a gallery assistant, volunteered at The Photographers gallery on an education project, got a studio and kept making work.
Was it hard finding opportunities and ways to exhibit your work after graduating from the MFA?
No. Glasgow is a very open, supportive city. Funding for artists is still relatively healthy and galleries feel very accessible. Its pretty normal for artists to set up shows in their flats and disused spaces — there are also lots of gallery spaces that take proposals, so there is plenty of space to develop ideas and a practice.
The Oldest exhibition that I found on your website is 2009 — what where you up to before then?
I was on the committee at Transmission Gallery for two years after completing my MFA, this took up much of my time, and then I was on a residency in Amsterdam.
Tell me more about the Poster Club , what is it, how did it come around, and is it still running?
Poster club was born out of a love of Sister Corita and a desire to print collaboratively — a group of us got together on a weekly basis and just started to print. Its still going, but I’m no longer part of it.
How and why did you end up managing Grey Wolf Studio?
A friend was doing a film shoot in the building, and he asked the landlord if he would consider turning it into studios once he had finished his project. He set up the studios, but moved on rather quickly. I stepped in with another artist to keep the studios going.
Many artists I spoke with who have set up a gallery or a studio eventually become known as curators, or managers rather than artists. It seems that you managed to avoid that path, how did you manage to resist those labels? And how has running a studio affected your practice and career?
I dont necessarily see it as a path to avoid — i think people develop their position through their activities, so my activities have always been centred around my practice — I’ve always been very clear that I am an artist, I make work — I might organise things, collaborate, run workshops, teach and run a studio building, but that doesn’t change my position.
How has being represented by a gallery changed your career?
Its enabled me to be more ambitious with the work I make, as having support from the gallery — mentally, practically and financially — has freed me up in the studio.
It seems that many artists in early stages of their career are not quite sure how to go around starting and building a relationship with a gallery, what advice would you give them?
I wouldn’t — I think its a waste of time to get hung up about working with a gallery. I think, the work is whats important, and all your energy should go into that — of course, a gallery can help you — they can sell your work, you can get shows because they take your work to art fairs — but you have to have the work! you have to have confidence and you have to believe in what you are doing.
If you could not be an artist what would you do instead?
Id like to run a nursery — I would specialise in succulents and cacti.
What is the book that you would recommend everyone read?
Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel.
For more visit Laura Aldridge’s website.