Sean Hawkridge, Performance Artist: An Interview
The first time I came across Sean Hawkridge’s work was at his recent solo exhibition at the Cornerstone Gallery, where visitors were given paper aeroplanes to make with instructions, and a magician was enlisted to entertain with card tricks.
Sean first came to Liverpool from his home town of Cardiff to study at John Moores University, where he graduated in Fine Art last year. Intrigued by his ‘interactive’ approach to art, I decided to find out more about the artist and his work.
Kaye: You first came to Liverpool to study Art, what was your first project?
Sean: ‘I started out by making sculptures, which were about fragility. I made a table out of sugar cubes and a dolls house out of matches, which damaged easily, but became frustrated by what I felt was a lack of communication between the pieces and the viewer. Therefore interaction with the audience became a fundamental concept’
Kaye: How did you develop this new direction within your practice?
Sean: ‘I wanted to explore ideas about communication and engagement, and my next project was about reactions to generosity and value structures. I found a car parked on double yellow lines on a street where some traffic wardens were working, and secretly filmed it. After a while, the car was given a ticket – and before the driver returned, I placed a cheque in the penalty notice packet to pay for the ticket, with the recipient name left blank, to be filled in by the driver. I watched the car until the driver returned. When he found the cheque, he emailed me a picture of it from his mobile and later that week, the cheque was cashed’.
Sean: ‘The next project was based on a game of poker. A pack of cards was split exactly in two and dealt to two players, myself and my neighbour Tom. We put the cards in envelopes addressed to 52 galleries in the UK and Europe found in the back of ‘Art monthly’, and to the name of the opposite player with ‘return to sender’ addresses on the back, so that on arrival they would be rejected and returned. When a sufficient number of cards had been sent back, we played a game of poker. Against impossible odds, having received only eight cards back in the post, I won the game with a flush of spades!’
Sean: ‘All the stills are from video films made of my projects, there is no special emphasis on their final presentation within an exhibition space. The work itself work is about the process, not the final product or display – its all about Velcro! I like to use playful ways to challenge how people use galleries, such as the paper aeroplanes with instructions. I try to appeal to the audience at different levels, so the person who receives the parking ticket, or the recipients of the playing cards are as much a part of the ‘exhibition experience’ as the visitors themselves’
Kaye: So what inspires your work?
Sean: ‘I take my ideas from day to day life within a city, making observations on the street, conversations with strangers – people and places I find in Liverpool!’
Kaye: You mention the local community – how does this play a part in your future projects?
Sean: ‘I am strongly driven by the community of art locally, and in the shaping of the city culturally. I want to contribute to the locality through my art by continuing to explore the possibilities of how others respond to it, and to fulfil my responsibility as an artist in creating moments that reflect daily life.’
The Cornerstone was Sean’s first solo show, and he has also exhibited as part of the Liverpool Biennial. He currently has a Fellowship at the Static Gallery, and has recently taken over management of Arena Gallery. I personally look forward to seeing more of Sean’s capricious performances, and hope he will be hiding round a corner with his cheque book next time I park on double yellows!
Kaye Kent MA