Graham Hudson: Interview
Graham Hudson is the first artist-in-residence on the parade ground of Chelsea College of Art‘s Millbank site. Taking the term quite literally, he has constructed a two-storey live-work space, complete with balcony, from reclaimed and basic DIY materials, and has moved in.
Why make a sculpture that also functions as a home and a studio?
It’s rare in central London to have access to such a large outdoor space, so I wanted to promote the idea of it being a public square where people can meet. Being visibly based on the site encourages that. We’ve had barbecues, screened students’ films and set up a TV to watch the England World Cup football matches.
You’re not a trained architect. Is the structure safe?
Yes, it’s been checked over by a firm of consulting engineers, but technically it’s still a sculpture of course, not a house.
What about all the other materials you’ve assembled on the site: palettes of wood, old college desks, piles of cardboard?
It’s a constant work-in-progress, so some sculptures are half-built, some half-destroyed and some are still just piles of things. It’s an obvious contrast to the listed architecture of the college building surrounding it and a contrast to Tate Britain across the road; where it’s very clear where the art begins and ends.
Are the current Chelsea students involved in what you’re doing?
When the degree shows were on I became something of a resource as they knew I had tools and power, and when I put tables and chairs out, they came and used them. I like the fact that the old desks the college had thrown out are being used by the students again; in a way, it’s like putting art back into life. There’s limited space to make sculptural work within the college, so several students have also started to build their own live-work spaces on the site. Technically they’re now my assistants . It’s good to be able to channel the students’ energy.
Who else makes use of the space?
Commuters walking from Pimlico tube to Millbank use it, and the firm of electricians who installed the power cable want to use it as a training
venue, probably to demonstrate how things shouldn’t be done! Anyone can drop by, but I tend to refer people to the website first which provides explanation and updates.
How have people responded to the work?
As you would expect, some people are willing to engage with the project while others think it’s a mess and an architectural eyesore.
What will happen at the end of the residency in September?
Everything will be auctioned off. It will be interesting to then bring a market value to the project.
For further details visit the website (www.chelsea.arts.ac.uk/graham-hudson).
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