ARTIST FEATURE 16: MILLIE LAYTON

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Wow! It's been nearly four months of amazing Artist Features for us over at Works Without Walls. This week, we're super super excited to feature our very first sculpture artist! Today, we're looking at Millie Layton and her lovely work! Millie lives in Kingston, London. She’s a graduate from the Glasgow School of Art. This is her, her work and her story...



Give us your name, tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do and how you would describe your work? 
 My names Millie Layton, I’ve got 5 pets – 2 rabbits (Robert and Penelope) and 3 cats (Ginger, Monkey and Mouse). I recently graduated from Sculpture and Environmental art at the Glasgow School of Art and I make biomporphic sculptures which explore ideas of animating very inanimate dead objects.

When did you start creating art?  
 I did art at school but didn’t do it at GCSE I ended up taking it for A-Level so I luckily missed out on doing bad portraits of my friends and jumped straight to making sculptures.



Have you ever experimented with any other art forms?
Yeah! I really tried it all at art school and I’m greatful for being on a degree that pushed you to do this. I finally gave in to the only thing I could really do which was making sculptures

Would you say you try to get specific themes across in your work?
I think sometimes I do but often material constraints mean I can’t as much as maybe I should.



What is about sculpture that really appeals to you?
Sculpture is the only thing I can really do! I’ve always gravitated towards it because I can’t paint but I’ve always liked being able to picture something in my head and then just build it, I find it really satisfying (as do most sculptors).

You use really bright, eye-catching, often neon, colours. Why these colours? Is there a particular reason?
I’ve always struggled with colour, I tend to use quite full on sickly/ OTT/ happy colours to contrast with the mundane movement of the kinetic sculptures. I like the colours to feel insincere and a bit fake almost.  I recently read Chromaphobia by David Batchelor which changed the way I think about colour but also added to any confusion I already had about colour.

Where do you get inspiration from?
I’ve always been really obsessed with cars, not like flashy cars but just normal cars. For example the design of a Ford Fiesta and the theory about how this kind of car design is an exact representation of desire of consumer goods at the time it’s produced. I find this all quite inspiring. I’m also reading Crash by JG Ballard which is testing and gross but also amazing. I draw inspiration from many sci-fi books about dystopian futures, kind of like trash teen fiction but for grown ups.

Crash is exactly that! But such a worthwhile read... You have a very unique style to your work. It seems like they're part of a continuting narrative. Is this intentional? When did you start creating in this way ? Can you tell us a little more about this?
I only started making work like this in my 4th year at art school in Glasgow which was January last year. Yeah, these things are all kind of part of the same series like almost interchangeable objects with another to create lots of different situations, however I’m kind of ready to shake this look because it’s easy to get stuck making similar variations of the same thing which I sometimes feel like I’m doing but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing just an observation of something that is happening with the work.

Who are your favourite artists? 
I’ve always loved Ryan Trecartin and he is my all time favourite artist. His videos are actually insane and when him and Lizzie Fitch do the amazing installation and film it always blows my mind like their thing at the Berlin Biennale a couple years ago. I also really like Rachel Maclean, I was able to see loads of her stuff in Scotland which I’m grateful for.



How do you overcome creative blocks?
 I’m not really sure, I have some motifs I always seem to come back to when I’m a bit stuck but I don’t do this intentionally I just think they pop up in my head because I have unfinished business with them. But I tend to talk at my friends and my boyfriend about being stuck and work I’m thinking about but am nervous about and eventually after some delicious beers I leave with a good idea.



Which is more important to you, the original concept behind the work, or the way it is executed?  
I actually can’t answer that question, I think in my work the way the work is executed is much more important than the concept but in some of my friends work the concept overrides the execution and it really works so I think it’s just subjective to the way you make. Also for me material quality etc can be a concept so the waters very muddy on that matter.

Do you think Art is a good medium for questioning politics, society, gender issues and the like? 
Yeah I do think art is a great place for starting conservations on politics, society, gender issues etc and there’s some incredibly important conversations happening in other people's work which I really admire.

Can you tell us a little about living in London? Would you say that living in London has encouraged you to work harder/pushed you to create more?
So I live just outside London in a place called Kingston which is where I grew up. Being from the suburbs in an area that looks exactly like Privet drive has meant I’ve always had to make an effort to go and see and be a part of any kind of interesting contemporary art scene. I think London can be really taxing at times for example to see my other friends from art school I have to travel an hour and half in the same city which seems crazy but it’s worth it, however there’s no way I could afford to move out of my Dad’s house. It does really push you though, it can feel like there’s some sort of urgency to be making work.


What are your plans for the next year? Do you have any exhibitions/viewings or collabs coming up?

 I’m doing a residency at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshops in August which I’m very excited about and a scattering of shows in the UK over the next year. But I’m having a bit of a break at the moment, I think it’s healthy to flip between doing lots of shows and then just picking up lots of shifts at work to give you the thirst to keep making. I’m also going to study my postgrad at The Royal Academy Schools in October so just trying to actually see my mates and pets before that all starts!

Are you creative in any other ways?
No, I’m probably one of the least creative people you’ll ever meet. I literally have no transferrable creative skills, I can’t even play Pictionary. I wish I was more creative though!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about - spread the word about - talk us through? 
Lastly this isn’t anything to do with art but there’s a fantastic podcast out called Grief Cast which is comedians talking to Cariad Lloyd about their experience of having people close to them die and it’s an incredible podcast and just want to spread the word about it! I lost my Mum in my first year at Uni and the lack of support offered by the Art School was actually shocking so I’d recommend it for anyone reading and feeling alone with grief its recently helped me out massively!

You can find more of Millie's work at her instagram here, or check out her website here.

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