Chloe Leaper is an artist who explores the realms of space - within her intricate drawings and installations, she examines our perceptions of lines, form and what she calls the 'thirdspace'. As well as a practicing artist, she is Head of Cultural and Contextual Studies at The Art Academy, London, and is currently based in Cambridge.
Leaper is one of the Artists in Residence at the National Open Art Competition exhibition, which will be running at Somerset House until 25th October. She will be working live inside the exhibition, making work for all to see, from 11:30am-6pm on 24th-27th September, 1st, 2nd and 4th October, 8th-10th October, 14th-16th October, and 22nd-25th October. On most of these days she will also be giving an 'artist's walkaround' of the exhibition at 12 noon - so don't miss that exclusive tour!
We caught up with Chloe to ask about her critical practice, and to find out what she'll be making at the National Open Art show.
Can you tell us a little about your practice? The themes and processes behind it?
My practice is informed by an exploration, and reading of spatial perception as an experienced condition of connection, disconnection and flux, and my reading of ‘thirdspace’ as a fluid condition fusing actual/physical and virtual/mental space. My work examines systems and conditions of spatiality such as: framing, thresholds, bridging, repetition/herding, and interiority and exteriority. I have been focusing on both two-dimensional and three-dimensional line and its ability to lightly delineate space creating planes and volumes.
Your work works with both two and three dimensional space – many of your drawings and installations seem to resist being defined as one or the other. Is this intentional?
It’s not an intentional subversion; I think it’s because my interest fundamentally lies with linear delineation rather than qualities proper to drawing or installation such as mark-making or immersion. It is the spatial structuring function and capability of line that most interests me rather than the medium by which the line is manifest. I am also interested in the different experience proffered by an engagement with two and three dimensional space and whether one can create a more fluid ‘thirdspace’.
Your work includes both installation and drawing – do you find there is a harmony between the two mediums?
I suppose I am aiming for harmony as I am in part trying to reconcile the very different experience of engaging with two-dimensional ‘illusionistic’ space and three-dimensional ‘actual’ space. I personally find the mental immersion of 2D space a profoundly intimate and immersive form of engagement and find it much harder to be within ‘actual’ space, and so look for ways to frame ‘real’ space to enable me to grasp it better.
I have produced several linear compositions in pencil which operate on corner walls, thereby enabling the viewer’s engagement with the ‘drawings’ to be situated in time and space. These drawn elements can’t be seen as one autonomous framed composition, but rather engaged with through a meandering visual and physical form of encounter.
Do you have a set of art materials that you couldn’t live without?
Drafting paper! It's so much more resilient than tracing paper; not easy to tear, crinkle and you can spill tea on it. I’ve also started to collect different paper for its aesthetic and structural properties such as graph paper, manuscript paper and a variety of packing materials.
What are your plans for the NOAC Artist Residency? Do you know what sort of work you want to make in the space?
I plan to develop my recent two-dimensional language system developed from an installation ‘Slipping Space Sphere’. This emergent series of work was also the reason I was invited to be a resident artist, so it seems fitting to explore it further at the NOAC. Obviously, I will remain open to anything that may present itself as a development, as I like to keep my practice open and responsive, a dialogue rather than diatribe. I’m really looking forward to having a designated time and space to visualise my current thinking.
Does teaching help you within your own practice, and if so, how?
Definitely. I try to think ‘what do I wish I had been introduced to’ – not taught - at that stage. I think learning to openly engage with the numerous types of experiences art can provide is invaluable. Also, to learn to be critically engaged with your practice, without tying yourself in intellectual knots. To ask yourself the right questions and trust that the answers come from the work – you don’t have to solve it all before you make it, it’s an external discussion.
I do think an active and questioning (rather than didactic) engagement with Art History and Art Theory are very important to not only introduce students to the myriad possibilities of art and thought but also to understand their part in the long, ongoing visual exploration into the questions and experiences of being in the world. It takes the pressure off the notion of being ‘unique’, as anything you make authentically will be unique whether or not the subject or material has been mined before.
Why should people come and check out the NOAC exhibition?
Because of the variety and quality of work that will be there – not to mention the resident artist’s developing contributions...! Also, you should come because NOAC is more than just a competition; they are genuinely interested in supporting and developing artists in their practice.
You can read more about the National Open Art Competition exhibition here.
Visit Chloe Leaper's website here.
Image 1 and 3: The Murmuring Corner, Mixed Media, 2013
Image 2: Frameless Space , Mixed Media, 70cm x 63cm, 2014
Image 4: Detail from installation wall drawing 'Score Scroll - Demolition' , Mixed Media, 2014
Image 5: Slipping Space Spheres, Mixed Media, 2013 (Detail)