Film Festival Interview : Steph Shipley

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work

I pursue an expanded practice of experimental film and printmaking that draws from the embodied experience of a site or space and the performance of place. I hold a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from the University of Bolton and an MA in Fine Art Site & Archive Interventions from the University of Central Lancashire; I was awarded the ArtLab Contemporary Print Studios Fellowship in 2018.

What set you off as an artist?

I was born in Lancashire and have been nourished there but I have longings for other places and this seems to be at the heart of the matter. Research projects have led me to fairgrounds and churches, to military barracks and railway hotels, to caravan sites and seaside resorts and to those places of childhood nostalgia, often close to heart or home.

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work

Places that exist within our culture but are often abandoned or transitory sometimes hold a personal or collective memory or intrigue or attachment. They suggest a capacity for imagination or otherness and reflect and disturb what surrounds them; these are sites of heterotopia.

What is your favourite medium to use?

Mine is a tentative cross-disciplinary approach; analogue photographs, film, projections and site recordings that have evolved through text, voice and dance are embodied with places as I have experienced them through the changing seasons. Imagery is often mediated through exploratory printmaking processes such as intaglio solar plate etching and screenprinting.

What art do you most identify with? Any specific influences or research areas?

My work is research driven and I read broadly across the humanities and draw from diverse texts in literature, philosophy and a widening field of cross-disciplinary sources. Contemporary artists whose practice dwells on memory, time and place inform my work - Tacita Dean, Hajra Waheed, Adam Scovell to name a few.

Is there something you couldn’t live without in producing your work? What is your most essential tool?

Most of my work starts with a photograph or film footage, so my essential tools are digital video; my Super 8 cine film camera and my medium-format and Polaroid cameras; I also rely on excellent printmaking facilities such as ArtLab CPS at UCLan and neo: studios in Bolton. Of course I couldn’t manage without my family, friends and colleagues - artist printmakers, collaborators and curators.

Tell us how you organise, plan and prioritise your work

I keep journals where I record my research, developing ideas, working out problems and reflecting on outcomes. I manage projects using online resources and a manual diary for setting objectives and longer term planning. I keep archive records and seldom get rid of anything!

How would you describe your approach to film and photography?

I apply the most appropriate visual language to the current project; still and moving images co-exist with experimental screen prints and projections to reflect shifts in time and space. I also use creative writing, spoken word performance and sometimes my own voice as interlocutor within films such as Just around the corner.

Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions?

I am working on a cross-disciplinary collaborative project researching the historical narrative of a local site which connects the geology of the land with the presence of absence. I exhibit widely including international exchanges, and residencies at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces, in creative partnership with neo: artists in Bolton where my studio is based.

Steph Shipley

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