Words by Sinead Nunes, Editor
Ant Hamlyn has just finished his Fine Art degree at Liverpool Hope University and landed the first ever Hope-sponsored student residency at FACT. We catch up with this ambitious and already impressive emerging artist.
You’ve just graduated and won a production residency at FACT – how does that feel?
It feels great to have finished university and to begin embarking as an artist in Liverpool, to be able to come straight from university into such a well established arts organisation feels unbelievable. I feel very honoured.
It’s the first such residency of it’s kind – what do you hope to achieve?
I’m excited to be working alongside other artists, designers and makers and from this I hope to achieve a greater understanding of contemporary technology in the arts, broaden my network of artists and by working professionally on a specific brief over a specific time frame will aid my creative practice massively, not only in decision making and time management, but in the curation and realisation of my ideas. I also hope to gain confidence in open source coding and arduino, I feel that by practically learning alongside realising the project I can fully immerse myself in the residency.
Your project takes themes such as social acceptance, digital relationships and the notion of ‘likes’ as it’s starting point – what was your inspiration?
I have been thinking a lot recently on how dependant we have become in technology and the internet, not only in terms of completing tasks, but in the way in which social media can actually allow us to live in an almost alternate reality. We can gain a certain social acceptance, and in a way hide behind our online identities.
Social media can be used as a tool both inadvertently or deliberately to boost one’s self worth. For example, if we receive a ‘like’ on a photograph or a post, or a new follower we immediately, however briefly, feel a certain little boost, as if we have been appreciated temporarily. Then just as quickly as this feeling comes, it goes and feelings of worthlessness can re-occur. I like to think about it as transient social acceptance. The actual concept of liking things on social media is arguably pointless, and in many cases used an ego boost..
What’s your creative process and how do you plan to work on the brief?
I wanted to translate these concepts I spoke about previously into a living installation. I plan to install a large inflating form from the ceiling in the FACT foyer. The aim is that the form with only stay inflated if it remains popular; I am hoping to install a live feed webcam so the piece can be viewed from any location. The inflating and deflating process is to be controlled via a link on the FACT website connected to a large timer to monitor the form’s life. Because of the technical nature of the piece, I am working closely with Brazilian artist Radames Ajna, who has a background in physics and robotics. It is fundamental that throughout the 2 month period rigorous tests and several prototypes are realised to maximise the efficiency of the piece.
As part of the residency, you’re going to be based in FACTLab – what’s your understanding of the project?
The FactLab is a creative space for artists, technologists and designers to collaborate on projects and hold discussions within the gallery itself. It’s a space for the public to see artists working and to get involved themselves. There are several workshops, visiting artists, talks and opportunities to meet a wide variety of creative people.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and any previous exhibitions?
I recently studied Fine Art at Liverpool Hope University for 3 years, and am graduating this August. Throughout the 3 years I spent at University I exhibited both internally to the university and externally, exhibiting at the Liverpool Art Fair, Camp and Furnace, the Hilton Hotel and the Baltic Triangle amongst other small commissions. I recently had my final degree show which I felt was very successful and had very positive feedback!
As a recent graduate you must be full of ambition – what are your hopes for the future?
I’m going to keep making work and perfecting my practice. I’m eager to take on other residencies, collaborate with other artists and exhibit both nationally and internationally. I hope that this residency at FACT can be the start of a stimulating, exciting career for me – I am feeling very optimistic and looking forward to the future.