Interview with Isobel Atacus

July 2020

1. Which role does the ephemeral play in your work?

This gets me thinking about moving out of an old studio because the developers were moving in; I decided to leave a small landscape behind for them – piles of dust and arrangements of clay, stones, bits of things left around in the studio. I was interested in the idea that the work would be completed when the builders arrived and, hopefully, stamped all over it. In the end the building wasn’t sold and so I had to go back in and clean it all up. So ephemerality took on a different meaning here. But I enjoy playing with timescales, mixing them up in the work. And even stones disappear in the end. It depends on how we are measuring time.


2. What are you currently working on? 

A new poetry collection, an old obsession with crystals, a growing obsession with seaweed.


3. Do you listen to music while working?

It depends on where my attention needs to be. If I’m doing something quite rhythmic or repetitive, then I can have music playing, but only if I can also give attention to the sound. I’m not good at having things on in the background. Listening to music is a big part of my practice, though. I see as much live music as possible.



4. Which artists (or other people) are you inspired by?

People who tear down statues. Figuratively. Literally.



5. What is your favourite place to see art?

A few years ago, I booked a one-way train ticket to Marseille and from there made my way along the coast, with a vague idea to visit a chapel that Jean Cocteau had painted in the late 50s. I tried two or three times to go there but kept arriving to find it closed or the train not running; I had to get about three buses to this little place on top of a hill, it was deserted, it was hot as hell… Eventually I arrived inside a small circular chapel and, inside, Cocteau had painted the most incredible pastel-shade murals, with bright blue tiles on the floor and a large stained glass window, bodies, patterns, motifs everywhere. I remember it was a time when I was so tired and so infinitely sad and I tried to hitchhike and no one would pick me up and then none of it mattered because of this. All of that experience. This is a very tangential answer to your question.


6. What is the best part of being an artist?

This probably isn’t dependent on being an artist, but for me it’s the excuse to be curious about a lot of things.



7. Are there any ongoing projects or upcoming (online) exhibitions where we can see your art?

Yes, I hope so! I’ve been thinking about a love letter writing service for some time, and want to start it this summer …maybe even today. I’m also planning an associate programme at the icing room.