This week Anthony Burrill took over our instagram account with his brand new series ‘Found Object’. We sat down with him to talk about the work and find out how curiosity drives him.
SC&Co: We love your new series for Soho Curious & Co. Thank you! Can you tell us a bit about the objects that inspired your work?
AB: I’m a graphic magpie always on the look out for discarded printed ephemera. It’s something I’ve done since art school. I first started collecting to provide material for my collage work, filling sketchbooks with things I’d find on the street. I was inspired by German DADA artist Kurt Schwitters who used every day detritus to create his art. He combined material he found such as bus tickets, fragments of advertising posters to make richly textured collages, incorporating fragments of words and letterforms.
The pieces for Soho Curious & Co took this approach as inspiration. I looked through my collection of found graphics and picked out a selection of type related pieces. My aim was to produce a set of ideas for new prints that took the found words and abstracted them to disconnect them from their original meaning and context. I’m intrigued by the abstract nature of words and how these odd shapes can come to represent thoughts and ideas.
I like to uncover work by editing fragments of the real world. Revealing the hidden poetry in the most mundane of settings. Suggesting that inspiration can be found everywhere if you train yourself to spot it.
SC&Co: Curiosity is one of our favourite words (in case you didn’t guess). What does curiosity mean to you as a creative?
AB: Curiosity is essential to being creative. You need to find inspiration in the real world, not just on-line. I’m forever encouraging people to tear themselves away from shiny screens and experience the world first hand.
SC&Co: What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you or your work as a result of being curious?
AB: Spending a day printing posters in São Paulo. I travelled to Brazil to lead a creative workshop and on my day off I went to Grafica Fidalga to print a poster. I’d heard about the letterpress print shop and was determined to seek it out. The workshop had been active for over fifty years busily printing advertising posters for the streets of the city. I worked with Claudio to make a print. Neither of us spoke each others language, we managed by pointing a nodding to each other. It was an amazing day, we set and printed a poster that says ’TRABALHE DURO & SEJA LEGAL COM AS PESSOAS’, literally translated as WORK HARD & BE COOL WITH THE PEOPLE.
SC&Co: Enough about the C word… We heard on the grapevine that you’re doing some interesting installation pieces these days. Can you tell us a bit about that?
AB: Yes, I’ve recently been commissioned by Harewood House to produce two large scale typographic sculptures. The pieces form part of an exhibition about contemporary craft called ‘USEFUL / BEAUTIFUL’. I made a six meter high scaffolding tower outside the house, featuring four phrases about craft. The piece stands directly outside the stately home, which is on the outskirts of Leeds. I also created a large scale letterpress piece to sit alongside a Jacob Epstein sculpture in the main entrance to the building. Each individual letter of the piece was laser cut and letterpress printed. It was an amazing opportunity to work at a large scale and engage with a historic setting.
SC&Co: Does working in a 3D environment feel vastly different from working on flat print?
AB: I’ve always been interested in working in 3D and this commission gave me a good reason to explore working in this way. There’s huge scope for working at a larger scale and I’m keen to apply my bold graphic approach to new ways of working. Collaboration is key to my work, I love working with other talented makers to produce work that overlaps different disciplines and challenges accepted wisdom.
SC&Co: You’ve done lots of work with brands over the years. What do you think is the benefit of brands working with artists?
AB: It can be great when it’s an interesting commission that helps the artist create an ambitious piece of work or experiment with a new technique. When brands work with artists they should be both bold and uncompromising, that’s how interesting projects happen.
SC&Co: A random one to end on… When it comes to the aesthetics of a word, do you have a favourite looking word regardless of its meaning?
AB: I like the word QUESTION, it’s got a ‘Q’ in it, which I always like and ends with an ’N’ which gives it a solid blocky shape. I like words that occupy the space on a poster and don’t have too much space around the letters. I look at letterforms as abstract shapes, I’m drawn to the geometry and shape of an interesting letterform. QUESTION is also a good word, it urges you to be curious.
The full ‘Found Object’ collection can be seen on our instagram