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Interview with Samantha Donnely

Interview with Samantha Donnely

Since January in the newly refurbished Tap Room at Century Club Samantha Donnely has displayed her beautiful new works on paper as curated by Leo Babsky. Her works are concerned with the temporal shapes, shadows and silhouettes dealing with absence and presence I had the pleasure of meeting Samantha and learning a little more about her practice and the motivation behind her work.

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Please tell me a little about your background and where you studied. What brought you to London?

I studied many years ago at Sheffield and Newcastle. Since then I have lived in many cities: Berlin, New York, Rotterdam, Florence and London. It is great to be back here and to take advantage of the diverse cultural scene that makes London an epicentre for the arts.

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Your work is concerned with the media and images of the self and how it, in turn, influences our own narratives. I am curious on your choice of democratic materials in your work. Would you like to expand a little further on this, please?

I’m interested in what we see and how that influences our decision making, and of course, in turn, our buying power. The world has transformed in the age of the digital – a relatively short time – images are everywhere, maybe in some ways, they have replaced language.

Leading on from the above question I found the work in your previous exhibition, ‘Lexigram’, at Transition Gallery, was a really interesting continuation of the work you are currently showing at Century Club. The work appears to have become increasingly abstract with a focus on substances and textures rather than recognisable or semi-recognisable imagery. Could you please elaborate on this?

Using packaging from cosmetics, food stuff and other things I had unwrapped products out of, I composed them in a process of scanning, copying and layering. This process of editing, representation, and reediting connects to the idea of how we receive images and the personalization and ‘blend’ of messages that constitutes our individual selves.

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How have you found exhibiting at Century Club? Did you find the setting and décor reflected your work effectively?

I’ve exhibited in bars before – traditionally the bar show is something that an emerging artist might do to get their work ‘out there’ so to speak – but I was interested in working with Century in this way as they have the ambition to nurture and support artists. The Tap Room had been redesigned just before my show, so I was thrilled to see the work against the teal coloured walls. The use of collage from magazines also fits the use of the space – potentially creating a dream-like narrative clipped from all of those covetable scenarios shown cover-to-cover in lifestyle magazines. When framed, the work could be interpreted as snippets of trains of thoughts, the cut & paste of our minds!

You were awarded the ACME Firestation live/work residency in 2015, Congratulations! It is recognised as one of the most supportive schemes for artists in London. How has this support and experience made a difference for you and your work?

It has been a great opportunity to have more time to concentrate on my work – from reading to exploring ideas on a larger scale and to meet other artists. It’s a fantastic programme which I’m enjoying enormously and am hugely thankful for.

Lastly, what is coming up for you in 2017?

I’m in a group show at Hanover Projects, part of UCLan, which is a group show around the anniversary of Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn, in March.

Maria Stenfors, February 2017