26 October 2022
A conversation between Maddie Exton and Samuel Vilanova
ME: It’s taken a long time to create all of the works in the show– how are you feeling?
SV: I’m feeling good and excited! I mean it’s a bit weird to have spent so much time with all these objects without knowing how it all was gonna come together in the space. But I think the result is quite close to the vision. So I’m just very happy to let them live a little by themselves.
ME: What drew you to ceramics?
SV: Well, it was all quite organic. I made a pair of socks out of clay at uni, just before lockdown, and from there it was like a whole new world of possibilities opened up. You can really do basically everything out of ceramics! And then I became an artist assistant working with ceramics and it just made me even more excited to try and apply what I was learning in the job in my own visual world. I also like the fact that they can be so fragile but at the same time so gravity defying.
ME: A lot of the works centre around gardening, where does this interest come from?
SV: I think I always had a very strong connection with the outdoor spaces within a house, they are somehow inside and outside. And I grew up always around the garden. When you guys invited me to do this show I was in Portugal at my grandma’s house, and it was very special to see how gardening for her is almost like journaling, like an act of self care, and I can see it in my parents too. I was also re-reading ´Modern Nature´, by Derek Jarman, and it just felt right to use the imaginary of the garden to explore a lot of the emotional thematics of the show.
ME: You create personified, cartoonish and dreamy versions of real world objects. What interests you about alternative realities?
SV: Objects are around us all the time, and we use them and live with them, so I think it’s quite funny to imagine them with characteristics of their owners. Almost like reflections of who these people could be. And I think alternative realities are just the most amazing tool, to see reality outside of yourself. I think the reason why I create these realities is to better understand myself, or ourselves as beings in relation to the world and to everyday life.
ME: Can you tell us about the title of this show?
SV: So the title of the show came from quite a dark place, but I think it has a very positive connotation, especially after finishing making it. “Even when I leave, I’ll be rooted here” came from an obsession with the fear of dying, which is what some of the work in the show is about. Playing with the idea of the garden as somewhere where you pour your energy and emotions in, and where they linger there after you leave. And also from missing the place where I am from, realising that even though I left, I’ll always be from there. Basically that even when you physically leave, something bigger than physicality stays.
ME: You have set up the show to position some sculptures as obstacles. What is an obstacle?
SV: Yeah, I like that. Before the show I was actually thinking a lot about how obstacles can become kind of frames. Like how the bush hedge becomes the frame for the painting. And I think the floor sculptures become the same, depending on where you look from, these obstacles add to the wider landscape of the room and change it. So I kind of like that definition of the obstacle as a frame. And then there is obviously the more physical definition of an obstacle, and I like how these sculptures stop you from walking in a straight line, from the door to the back wall, and instead create loads of new paths to experience the show.