U of O welcomes new 3D print-focused work by Ben Woodeson
On Nov. 29, the University of Ottawa’s newest artist in residence, with the help of the Department of Visual Arts and the Ottawa Art Gallery, hosted a talk to outline his work as well as the ups and downs of being a creative professional.
UK-based artist Ben Woodeson is the department’s newest artist in residence, with passions that lie within modernist structural ideas—bringing modernism’s ‘truth to materials’ motto to a new extreme. To the audience, he explained his projects focus on awareness of both the “materiality of the sculptural objects, but also of the viewer’s very own physical properties.”
With his time at the U of O he has been exploring 3-dimensional and technological creative art-making resources that are available at the department to further his own knowledge, as well as the students’.
Woodeson’s talk began at his time spent studying at the Glasgow School of Art, as he told the audience that they were some of the best years of his life. His graduation piece “Untitled 1997”, was made up of thirty-three electric fires hung by cables from the ceiling, the majority of which had cups of tea balancing on them. This was a foundational piece for Woodeson, and from there his interests in sculpture flourished, and he eventually developed his deep interest in provocative and interactive work.
After graduating from the Glasgow School of Art, Woodeson recounted his move to London being a tough time in his life. “I didn’t know any artists in London … I struggled,” he explained.
Although difficult, the move pushed him into further creative development. His struggle was met with his “intrasubjective” work, “making the viewer acutely aware of their own corporeality as the work forces them to rely on their own sense of proprioception.”
Woodeson associates his time working on these “dangerous” projects with negative emotions.
“My work is not autobiographical, but with any artist their emotions affect what they’re doing.”
Woodeson’s risky and provocative work continued for many years, and he frequently required audiences to sign health and safety waivers before entering his shows. “I liked seeing how people reacted to my work,” he explained, “I want to challenge people.”
Asked if something specific had happened in his past to draw him towards more dangerous work, he said no.
Woodeson’s current work is an obvious reflection of a change in his emotional state, going from absolutely no use of colour to an incorporation of colour in the majority of his works. Not only is he now using colour in his work but he has found a new love for glitter.
His crude humour added its own colour to his talk. “I’ve gone from no colour, to glitter, it’s like the art world of herpes,” Woodeson laughed. “I’m happier than I have been in a while and maybe that is why there is colour and glitter rather than danger.”
Finally, Woodeson spoke of his time as an artist in residence at the University of Ottawa, and told the audience he’s been “printing like a bitch.” He passed out some examples of the 3D work he has been doing with the department to the audience.
Woodeson charmed the audience with his forwardness—he is unapologetically himself in both his work and in speech.