In the second of our interviews we speak with Oliver Lunn over his collage practice.
What was your journey into the arts?
When I was 16 I went to art school and pretty much focused on painting full time. Back then I was obsessed with Basquiat so I ripped off his work a bit – loud colours, crude sketches, layers of paint masking text. I carried that through to university where I studied Fine Art. There I became more interested in muted colours, the idea of the palimpsest, of details lost, covered, or barely visible in the background. And I suppose I have the same preoccupations now, only applied to collage.
Can you talk about how you work, is it commissioned, self motivated etc?
Right now it’s all self-motivated. I’m also a freelance writer and spend a lot of time on my computer. So for me collage-making is definitely an escape from all that, a way of switching off but also being super immersed in the work and narrowing my focus.
Your collages create subtle imaginings and collisions of things that might not naturally sit together. Can you talk about the aims of your body of work?
I definitely enjoy those collisions. There’s a tension between printed graphics and then smudges and marks that have a clumsiness that could only be human-made. I use a lot of printed materials – diagrams, textbook stuff – but I never want the work itself to look like a piece of slick graphic design. So those collisions are deliberate and help me create a more rough-around-the-edges aesthetic that feels closer to a kid defacing a school textbook. It’s messy and chaotic, but hopefully quiet and sensitive too.
Your work often uses delicate layerings of found and created items, can you talk about where this interest comes from?
It’s hard to say. I think it probably came from seeing offcuts fall to the floor that were more interesting than the original thing I’d cut out. That’s always exciting. And when paper fragments get blown over and you realise the flipside works better. I think found items come loaded with a history and have a quality that fits a tone I’m looking to express. Sometimes I build layers, other times the layers are there already in the paper, albeit subtly.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? If so, can you talk about how you use this. Is it or your sketches a record of what you do or does it inform your approach and thinking?
Strictly speaking I don’t have a sketchbook. But when I’m working I’m constantly trying out things on bits of paper and other surfaces scattered on a table. They’re ideas that I keep coming back to, adding things, trying out new techniques. Some turn into final pieces if I’m lucky. But I try not to be precious about anything in the early stages. It’s all a sketch, an experiment, an idea, until it’s not. One thing I do is take notes on my iPhone. It’s not as romantic, but it’s great if I’m on the bus and overhear a word that I like the shape of. Those words will usually find their way into my work, if not the titles of pieces.