Where's the frame
January 20, 2022 2:12 PM
Travelling around the world whilst doing what you love sounds like perfection to us. Going all in - experiencing a wide range of what different places have to offer - that’s how the London born artist, Taylor Bull studied art. From learning batik and dyeing techniques in Sri Lanka to researching the art of Mughal painting in India. In this 'in conversation with' edition, Taylor shares with us her fun experiences all over the globe, we discuss her biggest inspiration, preparing for exhibitions, what a perfect day is like and some insights into what happens when she is not inspired to create.
You've studied art around the world, can you share with us your experience in some of your favourite places?
My favourite place so far is India. Just being alone in the Himalayas for so long, with nothing to do and no one to do it with. There are the best sunsets up there and every afternoon the clouds come down so you are in them and then you are above them. I really don't know what I did up there for nearly a year when I think about it now. A lot of walking and eating, I think. Picturing it now I have that music video kinda feeling, like I am Rod Stewart in Sailing. I did so many other strange and surreal things while in India, I lived on a beach in Gokarna with more cows, dogs and water buffalos than humans, reading all day and swimming in the sea at night with the bioluminescent plankton; meditated for 10 days of silence and sitting still in Igat Puri; road tripped across Goa with people I had just met; wolf, dog and rat attacks (many trips to the hospital and 3 different courses of rabies treatment needed); became a yoga fanatic and woke up at 4 am every morning with the other fanatics to drink 2 litres of salt water and thread catheters up our noses and out of our throats. I had so many different types of experiences and I think that the best things that happened were because I was alone, I recommend doing big trips alone.
Have any of the places you been to ever limited your practice as an artist?
Logistically yes, because I may have an idea but am unlikely to have the materials or means to bring it to fruition whilst away. But in the long run, I don't think travelling could ever be limiting.
What has been the biggest inspiration for the works you have created?
Sally Mann was the first artist whose work I can remember falling in complete love with when I visited her 2010 exhibition: The Family and the Land, at the Photographers Gallery, and I feel the same way about her work today. I have a book of her photos, ‘Immediate Family’, which I look at when I’m feeling stuck creatively. A year later, I visited Pipilotti Rist’s Eyeball Massage at Hayward Gallery and it changed everything – I realised here that art doesn't need to look like anything that we recognize or can understand. And the artist that I will always come back to is Mike Kelley. The greatest. These artists make me want to create art, but the real inspiration for my work itself is just life – the funny, weird, idiosyncratic ways of the humans, things I see and hear, places, people I meet.
What happens when you are not inspired to create?
I’m not too hard on myself, in fact, I’m quite generous, if I’m not in the mood I’ll step away. I have come to understand that everything I read, every movie I watch, every conversation I have will inform me to new perspectives and experiences, and ultimately will inform my art in some way. You never know when those 3 hours of watching Loose Women clips on YouTube will come in handy in your art.
You have exhibited in a lot of places such as Mumbai, Sydney, London and the North of England. How do you usually prepare for your exhibitions? Do you always feel nervous?
I don't prepare well for anything. Things are usually only ready at the eleventh hour. Even for my degree show this summer, I turned up on the day of the install not knowing which of my paintings I wanted to show, and then ran home to finish painting it. I probably would feel nervous if there was ever any time to.
What do you like most about being an artist?
I feel so lucky that I can do something I love all day every day, getting into a satisfying flow in art is exciting and addictive! I like not knowing what I will make that day, what my day will look like, or even what my future will look like – there is so much freedom and so much unknown. Also, being able to listen to music and podcasts and audiobooks while I work. Bingo.
What do you like least about being an artist?
There’s not much I dislike, but I am yet to strike the work-life balance, it’s not a 9-5 job so when I’m focused I will be in the studio from morning to night and anything else - socialising or admin or going for a walk or sitting down at a reasonable hour feels unproductive, especially when working towards a deadline.
Can you share with us what is the perfect day according to you?
Wake up to the sound of the ocean, breakfast then backgammon (I’m obsessed. If you know how to play hmu for a tournament). Swim, lunch, read and nap the day away with my family and friends until the sun goes down. Good music and wine flowing as I get ready for the evening, which smells like aftersun and perfume. More wine on the terrace (not that I have a terrace), and then out for a glorious meal, eat and drink until I fall asleep at the table. Also, there will be visits from my favourite animals throughout the day; donkeys and baby highland cows who want to sunbathe and swim with me. I should probably include painting somewhere in there.
Out of all the places you have been to, any other places you would want to travel to?
I want to go everywhere that there is sun!
Mexico is next. I’ve heard that Sayulita is a good place to live on the beach and make art. I am meant to be in New York right now for a residency, but getting a visa during Covid wasn't possible, so I will be going in 2022. While I’m in North America I also want to road trip through the national parks but I need to learn to drive first. I visited Sinai from Israel a couple of years ago, it was so unbelievably beautiful and I’ve since become obsessed with googling Egypt and planning where I will go. Oman is another place I google a lot. The Dead Sea is calling to me.
Let’s play a game. Would you rather have unlimited time or unlimited money?
I think about this a lot. Unlimited time. But not unlimited like I’ll never die and just get older, unlimited like being able to pause time. I could get so much painting done, and people will wonder where I get the time to achieve all that I achieve and how I am so wise and stay so well rested - I will have that je ne sais quoi. And je ne sais quoi + pausing time attracts unlimited money anyway! Wait, I just got really obsessed with pausing time, that wasn't the question. Can we change the question to ‘would you like to pause time?’ haha.