Jess Flood-Paddock and Charming Baker discuss Britain Creates 2012


13 July 2012

At the launch of Britain Creates 2012, an exhibition displaying artworks created by pairings of artists and fashion designers, Disegno spoke to two of the participating artists - Jess Flood-Paddock and Charming Baker - to ask about their work and their thoughts on collaborating with fashion designers.

Flood-Paddock was paired with Jonathan Saunders, with whom she created the installation piece Life: a collection of 200 coloured screen prints hung from a transparent clothes rail. Baker worked with Paul Smith on Triumph in the Face of Absurdity: an aluminium bicycle held aloft by a tiny mouse statue.

How did you become involved with Britain Creates 2012?

Jess Flood-Paddock: I was asked if I would like to participate and which fashion designers I liked. I was shown a list of participating designers and I'd always liked Jonathan Saunders' clothes, so decided that I wanted to work with him. It wasn't quite like picking someone for a football team though: Jonathan had an equal amount of say in it.

Charming Baker: I don't feel very special now: I wasn't asked by the exhibition at all. With me, Paul Smith was asked to do it and he suggested to me that we work together. I knew Paul already because we'd collaborated before on a couple of things: films and clothes. I liked Paul because he'd always been very generous in dressing me. Which was probably needed.

What made you want to work with Paul?

CB: I think we've got the same sensibilities. He's got an interest in art and has a big collection. He'd also seen my work and always been very complimentary. I suppose we both thought that we'd say the same things and reach the same destination. We thought we'd work well together.

Did you reach a shared concept quickly?

CB: It took us a long time.

JFP: We took a while too. Jonathan and I decided quite early on that we wanted to work in a studio in a hands-on way, so we developed everything visually rather than coming up with an idea and working it out mentally. We both had a background in printmaking and went from there. But there were a lot of hours in the studio waiting to see how prints came out. We worked with a printer and I really liked coming in to the studio and seeing it suddenly filled with my work: there's something quite magical about that.

Are you happy with the finished work?

JFP: It looks very different in the exhibition from how it has looked when put up in some other places. It changes constantly and that always surprises me. The different combinations of colour alter the overall feeling, so it can actually look quite subdued sometimes. But that keeps you interested. Its a good feeling when your work isn't as you expected it to be.

CB: I love it when that happens. When a work is finished I think that it should go on and do what it wants. A work is never going to look as good in some situations as it does in others, but I like the idea of not having full control over something I've made. I like the idea that a piece of art has a life of its own. It may look terrible in some situations, but that's just part of its life.

Did you find it odd working with design elements?

CB: I don't think there's a lot of difference between art and design. Making something out of metal or creating a print is not particularly different to a fashion designer answering a brief by making some clothes. It's still all about your ideas, your influences, who are you and what you want to say: that doesn't change across the disciplines. But artists can learn from designers. Like a designer, an artists shouldn't be too self-indulgent: he shouldn't make something that only he gets. That kind of art is always awful.