In the studio: Abbey McCulloch

Abbey McCulloch

22 Apr 2020

During the covid-19 lockdown we will be keeping you updated with new works and insights into our artists’ practice, process & inspiration…

Fill us in on what you are working on at the moment.. either before or during isolation

A few months ago, I started to paint the body against a background subject, something that I had typically avoided. I was experimenting with patterns and subtle landscapes just prior to this whole virus situation. As a recovering hypochondriac, this whole contagion atmosphere feels pretty intense right now and these new contexts that I’ve placed the body in, seem suddenly more imposing.

Transforming and understanding our fears is a continual focus in my work and I think I need my art process more than ever. It is how I cope. I am looking back at my past images and they make me feel strangely re-assured. We have so much to re-consider right now, our impact on the earth has reached a threshold, it is karma and our disregard for the natural world is clearly paying us back.

Being an artist is usually a solitary pursuit – do you have one tip or trick for people who are new to WFH, to stay motivated each day?

I tend to just play music from my iPod and I try to shut out other noise. I make playlists which sounds really old-fashioned now, I’m a sucker for a mixed tape. Sometimes I work in silence. Part of me wants to be the person who tunes into clever podcast banter all day but finding the right thing often ends up just distracting me. Being in the studio and being productive is all about getting away from everyone’s noise. Isolation is the key. We are often too busy trying to be busy and the real work happens when we get into a flow which seems to occur when we get good at blocking everything out. When it’s good it feels like a wonderfully lonely and goosebumpy trance. You tap into something that you can’t describe and it’s a satisfaction like no other.

I am constantly grateful for the opportunity to make my work. I honestly couldn’t cope if my hands didn’t take me out of my mind every day.

What are you watching, listening to, looking at …

I check Instagram which can be really motivating but it can also leave you feeling drained and distracted. It’s a lottery. I love seeing historical posts and anything super funny, the New Yorker cartoons are great. I could also listen to Conversations with Richard Fidler all day. I’m trying really hard to avoid the news though. I might re-visit Twin Peaks while I work. It’s like we are living in it. At least we still have coffee.

If there is one good thing, be it personal or in general, that you hope to come out of this, what would it be?

Wouldn’t it be great if after all of this we simply love what we already have so much more and consume so much less. And if we all survive this, we should put a stop to live animal trade.