Sunday, April 19, 2015

Introducing... Carla Moss

Si: Hi Carla, I was talking to someone about your work recently, and they said that, considering that it's about the nature of space and time, it's really accessible and engaging...

Carla: Hi Si, thanks! I’m sure it's accessible to some, but not to others - even if we all live within time and space...

I’ve really enjoyed making the piece for the Stations, getting my hands dirty with clay is something I’ve not done in a long time.

The piece is about space and time and about the sharing and experiencing of an event in alternative times. For example, we, now, are experiencing this as a representation of an event that we are told happened a long time ago. In doing so we straddle those times unconsciously and effortlessly...

The work itself is split into 3 parts: an object (the Sculpture), a book, and a film. (In keeping with our current cultural make-the-most-of-all-avenues-of-sharing-a-story...??? but it’s not just that!) Each element is linked to the other and for me represents a different part of the essence of the story. The sculpture, made in clay, links to the Christian teachings about man made from the earth – so in a way it represents Jesus’s humanity. It is unfired and will over time turn back to dust. 

The book is the imprint of the clay: where it stood and where it fell. I’ve called it ‘the legacy of a fall the fall of a legacy’ because it is! As a book it also reminds me and echoes how we know so much about this story in the first place - through books and writings that have been passed down through the ages. 

The film is the record of the falls. This ‘station’ is the second one, so the sculpture had to fall twice. The film runs for just over 8 minutes 20 seconds which is the length of time light takes to get from the sun to the earth. I like to play with words, and I like that in English ‘Son’ and ‘Sun’ sound the same, and that Jesus is described as ‘light’ and coming from above to earth. 

Si: I love this piece; partly because i think it's a really interesting and thought-provoking way of looking at the subject matter; and partly because - knowing you and your work a little - i can see some of the concepts and ideas that inspire you being reflected upon and explored in this exhibit...

For folk who are maybe a little less familiar with more conceptual forms of art, I wonder if you could explain a bit about your working process...?

Carla: wow, I have no idea to describe my working process except it involves lots and lots of hours thinking, drawing, writing, reading, reflecting, making, talking... It is intense (I am pretty intense myself so it’s not surprising). For a long time I was interested in our relationship with the environment and focused particularly on the shrinking Aral Sea in Kazakhstan which has suffered from rapid environmental change and has failed to adapt and survive in the process. 

My thoughts are very complex and layered about it all and I mainly go though a process of asking questions why? what? how? etc. A few years ago I got interested in looking at time, because I wanted to understand it better and because our relationship to it seems in opposition to looking after the environment around us. But it is complex and every thought is only an iceberg tip in a bigger picture. 

So my process is: I want to understand something, I read / talk / research / think /make artwork etc about it, which presents new questions and I do that again. In no particular order! And those areas of interest are about our relationship with the environment and our relationship with time.

Si: I always find it fascinating to talk with artists about how they see and think about stuff like this :-)
When you're in the process of making something, are you thinking much about the audience - do you have in mind a response that you want to elicit from people who see the work?

 No. I think very little about the audience when I make the work and it’s mainly for an audience of one, namely me. I do not ‘begin with the end in mind’ as many business mantras advise – but then this is art not business (unless it is just business of course, in which case you get things like Damian Hirst’s circles!)...

I have found 2 things:
 1.when I make work for an audience it is less authentic to itself and
2.the discoveries that arise in being creative are only made possible when I say ‘I don’t know what happens next’.

I liken it to a child (not having had any children – I can only surmise this – but you have children, so perhaps you can tell me if it is similar or not...)

With a child s/he will do this or that, s/he will look like this or that and the people who interact with her/him will respond in a particular way. We cannot determine the outcome of any of these things as parents. Instead, we instil in our children our values, our love, the lessons that have been passed to us by our parents and friends, that we think create a healthy and happy life and we send them on their way. (And they discover, as we did with our parents, much later on, oh, yes, they were right!!!) We hope that if they offend, they do so for good reason – for the purpose of building a better world for all, we hope that if they love, they do so without selfishness and manipulation, we hope that they will fully be themselves, because in being themselves they will invite the same from others and so encourage the diversity and beauty that exists in the world. But that is idealistic and doesn’t necessarily happen. And it’s even much more than that. But, it serves as a metaphor. 

My work is like a child to me. It has its own life. It will interact with the ‘audience’ as it interacts (not least because the ‘audience’ brings all of itself to the work and sees the work through that lens). I hope it loves and does not offend (except to build a better world) (very subjective – but that’s the way it is...) and as my child it will undoubtedly reflect a lot of me. The artwork also ‘speaks’ back to me, I might try a new process or a method, or I might just start doing something because I think it’s a good idea and end up with an answer to a question or a question to an answer. It’s like breathing, it comes in, some of it gets assimilated, some of it goes out again...
And the audience adds to it as others influence the life of a child.

I think you might ask me another question...! 

Si: I think that child analogy is a good one, actually :-)
You make the work and send it out into the world where it will hopefully have a life beyond the limits of your own expectations for it...
There's this popular romantic idea of the artist sitting waiting for the muse to take hold of them, for inspiration to strike; but the reality is that the act of creation is a whole lot messier than that, with a lot of graft and perspiration and failure and grappling with stuff involved... 

Anyhow, here's your last question...!

You have a space at Patrick Studios in the city - for anyone who's not familiar with East Street Arts and their venues, can you tell us a bit about that?

Carla: I’ve been at Patrick’s for a few years. It’s a large studio space with about 30 studios. It’s an inspiring place to work and there is a lot of mutal support that happens amongst the artists. Sharing of experiences for example about exhibitions that are going on, or projects to get involved with. Or just the regular laugh over a coffee. Plus it’s great to be around the East Street Folks who always have a new project or event up their sleeve. 

You can find out more about Carla's work and see some of her recent projects (including the fruits of an arts residency in Sicily earlier this year) on her website at

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