10 Mar 2017

Q&A interview: In Conversation with Shuby 

Delve into the world of a female street artist at WOW Festival.

Kingston Art Gallery (KAG) is showcasing female artists throughout March with an exhibition and a series of free events as part of Hull 2017 and WOW Festival which everyone is invited to.

One of the events taking place as part of The Female Gaze, In Conversation with Shuby, at 7pm on Friday 10 March, sees London street artist Shuby talk about her work and the rocky road of the art world, as well as her latest body of work This Is The Spot and its relationship with the Soho sex industry.

We had a chat with Shuby to find out more …

Can you tell us more about your artistic background?

I first developed an interest in art as a child and would copy from artist books lying around the house. Looking back, I liked artists that drew with very definite lines; my favourites to copy were Aubrey Beardsley and Matisse. I did my degree in Leeds and Manchester in Fine Art Printmaking and then went on to work in different creative industries until I started doing street art in late 2006.

Where do you like to gather your inspiration from and why?

I take inspiration from popular culture – all kinds of posters and paper ephemera, retro magazines, film posters and advertising. I find them inspiring because of the mixture of absurdity, drama and humour combined with graphics.

What materials do you usually use?

I use paper, canvas, spray paint, silkscreen and found objects.

How did you come up with the banana and bunny motifs that feature in your work? 

The banana is inspired by the cover of 1971 underground magazine Oz by Martin Sharp. The bunny is inspired from a biscuit jar I found at a boot sale that I repainted in bright colours and put a mask on.

What role do you feel an artist should have in society? 

Artists have a diverse role in society, from conveying beauty and pattern, to teaching workshops in the community, or delivering powerful political messages. I feel they are all important.

If you could live the everyday life of an artist you admire, who would it be and why? 

Robert Rauschenberg. His career was so diverse and life filled with drama. And of course I would have liked to live in his epic houses in New York and Florida.

I admire any artist (or even non-artist!) who tries to work and make things in spite of the difficulties and impossibilities that life presents.

How would you like to develop your work in the future? 

My work has recently become more directly political with my first solo show in Soho, London. I began to listen and understand a little about what the sex workers are experiencing with police, gentrification and criminality. I am also hoping to start a project with some of the sex workers.

Why should people come along to The Female Gaze events?

People should come to events like The Female Gaze because they serve three essential purposes. Firstly, it gives a voice to female artists and a distinct viewpoint that is sometimes lost in the art world. Secondly, especially in challenging times, it is important to form networks and share information and ideas in a direct and uncensored way. Finally, and I think most importantly, people at this and other events will create the potential for new collaboration, inspire each other and form a strong bond that will last beyond the event itself.

If you could name any female role models in the arts, who would they be and why? 

I think Marina Abramovic is fascinating and an amazing role model of strength, sensitivity, achievement and is bringing art directly to her audience in a very impactful way. Also Pauline Boty, who was a leading figure in the 1960s British pop art movement and tragically died in her twenties. Her paintings and collages convey a joy in self-assured femininity and female sexuality. I see her as an amazing role model of pioneering work and free spirit. Lastly, I admire any artist (or even non-artist!) who tries to work and make things in spite of the difficulties and impossibilities that life presents.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at WOW Hull?

It’s an incredibly rich festival and I will be looking to seeing as much as possible. I’ve not been to Hull before, so am excited to come and see the city.



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