We interviewed Johnny as part of our proposal to offer insight into how practising artists were coping with these unprecedented times. He has talked about ways in which he had to manoeuvre and reposition to align with restrictions.
1- Who are you?
Hi. I’m Johnny Burrage, I’m 34, I live in Hereford and I’ve just finished my Masters in Fine Art at Hereford College of Arts. I finished my Illustration BA in 2010 and have since been working in art, marketing (at Market Arts Studios Hereford, in the Hereford Butter Market), sales and the odd game reviews. I also like to write and make music.
2- What is your artistic practice? What drove you to work as you are now? How has this been impacted by
lockdown restrictions and the pandemic?
My practice consists of using found objects and configuring them to make something that holds more significance. It can involve construction, 3D and 2D scanning and print, photography, projection mapping, procedural mark-making via apps, animation, and paint. This has become more computer-based during the first lockdown, being away from my studio in Hereford with very little source material from the outside world and even less found objects. Obviously fewer people are on the roads losing things, and fewer people felt safe having clear-outs of things that they didn’t want to have to clean themselves, before giving it away. Not only that I couldn’t get my materials, and only having an old computer with a very old graphics card in at the time, anything that was too complicated and 3D would make it crash, so I started playing around with in-game map editors to make larger pieces from the 3D assets. Obviously the 3D printer and large-scale print, as well as a lot of the construction tools. I began to put more of my efforts into the 3D side of it after getting a better graphics card, self-learning a lot of newer software like 3DS Max and Blender, which I had used some of before along with Sculptris but not this much for recreating found textures into 3d assets. I also took to using abandoned 3D assets which were then manipulated in their textures and forms too to be later projected onto certain dismantled found objects. After being diagnosed with depression since the lockdown, and coming to terms with that, as well as nerve problems, it’s all been a little stifleing to say the least. The elements of a dark satire in my work still remained as there was plenty of info to work from at home, researching constantly. Which is probably the main point that drives me in my work as well as the themes and subject matter.
3- What are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on a few collections, one involving painting broken lcd tv screens on to donated blue felt notice boards, which I’m layering laquer on to give a transformative to, then projecting a gif of cornershop noticeboards on, with one of them sawn to pieces that will be on the floor.Another, Is a blowing up, out of proportion, of a very small piece of reflective found material, which has been prodceduraly reformed, then printed, painted, and projected, and will be soon all hung in situe with an enlarging dross effect, so certain angles all will match up. Market arts studios has been a really useful and key to me in progressing my practice. If I hadn’t had the space or the time there I wouldn’t be able to make half of the pieces I have done, which I’m eternally greatful for. The final fine art Masters show ‘STRATA’ (pictured) has been really fun to put together and something that I’ve put months of work into with the rest of the Amalgam8 team at Canwood Gallery. It really put into perspective a lot of forms of communication that I wanted to play with along with, the digital uncanny, the simulacra, the digital disconnects in integration, the meta constructs, illusion and free will.
4- What is next? – How, if at all, has this pandemic inspired further progression?
Soon I want to help my friend Jack Hodges (Twitter @jack.hodges.artist.hereford ) with a lot of the organic 3d modelling of clothes/characters/object design of a game that he’s currently working on which is magnificent and locally has been really well received, and not only because he’s done the vast percentage of the modelling of it alone, but because it’s historically accurate (https://youtu.be/txu6fX11aJc ). When it comes to my work in terms of going further, it looks like the lockdown has made me come to terms with a lot of things, my skill gaps, gaps between my ears, re reading about the Ginnungagap and other self aggrandising mythos. The process of looking more into abandoned 3D assets has become really interesting to me, like what is happening to this glut of talent which is sitting in someones recycle bin and how might there be a way to really give that a platform, the unfinished objects.
5- Where can we find you?