Students are at the heart of Cass Art, after all, they are the artists of the future! This is why we’re delighted to be supporting graduates all over the UK with professional development opportunities and material prizes to set them on their way to the road of success. This month we’ve interviewed Maria Macc, MA Art and Science student at Central Saint Martins, and winner of the Cass Art £1000 Materials Prize 2017. We asked her about her artistic inspirations and her plans for the future.
Hi Maria, congratulations on winning the Cass Art £1000 Materials Prize. Do you have any ideas what you’ll do with the award?
Delighted to have gained the award and looking forward to seeing what materials you have that I can mix with my novel art making process. This year I have totally changed my style of working to suit my subject matter - the body and interventional surgery. I like working in a fluid and responsive nature so will be looking at what inks, charcoal and mediums you have and mixing these with my typical finds from other industrial sectors! Keeping it fresh and not entirely knowing the outcome and enjoying the results is all part of the delight of making! Next stage is to scale up as retained things to specimen size but looking forward to expanding in size and supports.
Your series of paintings at the Central Saint Martins Degree Show are exquisite! Can you tell us about the concept behind them and the process of creating the paintings?
Thank you, I wanted to make a visual impact with the audience which is how I first felt on encountering the specimens I studied at the Gordon Museum of Pathology. It's the odd attraction, repulsion of observing and exploring the body. I wanted my work to draw people in and surprise them with the surface textures which have been designed to reflect my experiences on engaging with the specimens and the cadavers. Both serve as fantastic educational tools, way beyond the lifespan of the body with some dating over 150 years. My work deals with concepts of fragility, survival and life's balance and I am very process and alchemy led in my approach.
You’ve just completed an MA in Art and Science at Central Saint Martins. This sounds fascinating. Can you talk us through what was involved in the course?
Initially I was pretty set to continue to make work as I had just graduated from the City and Guilds of London Art School and was heavily focused on print as a medium. The first year was structured to expose your mind to other areas of science with random word association projects and numerous site visits and discussions around collaborations to expand your thinking. One of the highlights was a behind the scenes trip to CERN. I wanted to find my own way to collaborate and approached the Kings College Anatomy Society and that's where I met Billy Leung who developed the surgeon's view of the body which accompanied my work.
Who are your inspirations for your artistic practice?
I was in Dublin years ago when I came across the large scale paintings of Hughie O'Donoghue - it was the size, limbo state and palette of his figures and the smell of paint, which made me sit on the floor in one of the rooms and think what have I done with my life. I gave up my career and went straight into studies and will never forget that first day of anatomy drawing thinking the week before I was in a management team meeting! Since then I have followed the work of Berlinde De Bruyckere, Ellen Gallagher, Pierre Huyghe, Anselm Kiefer and of course historical greats such as Joseph Beuys and Paul Nash. Over this show it has been mentioned I have got to revisit Keith Tyson so that's on my research to do list.
Do you have any plans for your next art project? Are there any mediums you would like to try out?
Next is a group show with MAAS students responding to CERN which is in mid June. I may work in more technology oriented materials with acrylic mixed with glass paints and inks. After this I want to return to the subject of the body. Trainee Surgeon Billy and I need to discuss how we can develop a closer dialogue. Materials - I feel I just had built up an awareness of how various substances would react. I want to expand my material knowledge and have further experimental ideas - can't wait to start the making process again!
Lead image: Maria Macc - Beneath the Surface
Image 2: Maria Macc - Artist Maria Macc with the Cass Art Prize
Image 3: Maria Macc - Heart Beat
Image 4: Maria Macc - Bleed