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October 06

Interview: Eleanor Hardwick

By Ella Miista
Eleanor Hardwick is an impressive young woman. In her 21 years she’s done more than most others, and her talent isn’t restricted to just photography either. Her illustrations, comics and reviews are a regular feature in Rookie Mag, she curates zines, makes music and even writes a bit of poetry. She picked up a camera when she was 12 and hasn’t looked back much. Many of us did the same at that age – just many stopped taking pictures when MySpace was no more. For her it was art, not vanity, and so she has kept at it. We at Miista love her work so we got in touch to find out more. As articulate as she is talented, she’s filled with interesting ideas. She's intelligent and opinionated, and to read her thoughts is as fascinating as to see her ethereal photography. Really, Eleanor is a true artist and her art extends to everything she does, whether it be bringing her ideas to life or just discussing them. How did you end up using such a medley of mediums? I very much see it the other way around though… as a child I made zines, I designed houses, I wrote novellas, I made papier mache costumes, I directed plays, I designed websites, I sat in the corner of the playground writing poetry… the fact that I picked up a camera at the age of twelve and uploaded the pictures online was just a fragment of what I had always done. It just happened to stick I guess because it was the craft that I really decided to perfect, and it was also the first medium in which I found a community of peers, so I suppose there was encouragement and motivation in a sense that I hadn't experienced so much with all of my other premature offline endeavours. I think the important thing as an artist is to simply use the medium most appropriate for your message, and for me photography was the predominant way for me to express my ideas. However Grayson Perry mentions in his autobiography a beautiful quote, which says something about how "being an artist is not something that you do but something that you are… artists cook their art for their breakfast" - meaning that every mundane task is completed with creativity. I think if you truly live to create, then your craft is ever evolving… being an artist is being about being a verb, not a noun (this is actually an idea Stephen Fry once talked about in regards to Oscar Wilde I think). Growing up your sister was a huge influence on your work. The similar sense of nostalgia and a certain element of humour are still present in your work now. What drives you the most now? I am just driven by whoever I am close to I suppose. And perhaps now that is the community of young women and artists online that I work alongside… I always like an element of humour in the sense of misunderstanding something much darker. I take everything incredibly literally so I used to especially like to incorporate that humour into my work. Overall though, it's often about being a misfit, finding your place in the world, coping with the complexity of life in a kind of celebratory but introspective way… I like a balance between the beautiful and the horrific. Because that's kind of what life is about. I'm not so sure if nostalgia is a key thing I think about, because I really never think about the past. Once something happens to me I forget about it and it really separates from me, like a dream confused with memory. I really only live in the future which is what keeps me striving to create. Making music has enabled me to start living in the now more though, because I think less about a final product and more about the physical enjoyment of the process of making sound, which is very much in the moment. I don't really plan for my music to make me big or famous or important, I just find it really therapeutic to do because it allows me to live in the now… like meditation I guess. Perhaps that's why a lot of the sound I create is very repetitive and loop based, because I just work quietly and obsessively in the moment with that one sound for hours and eventually a song forms. A lot of your work is also quite surreal, ethereal in a way. What's your shooting process like and how important is post-production for you? Post-production I see as much like the production of a song, or experimenting in the darkroom. Too many people dismiss it because for some reason doing it "in camera" is more respected, which I think is silly as it's just a different process. With that said, my early work was playing around a lot more in Photoshop because I was still working out what I liked doing. The process of post-production in terms of colouring is really important to me, however I don't "retouch" in the sense of altering shapes, forms or reality anymore. In some of your earlier interviews you told about your career goals like shooting for Vogue. That's technically ticked off your list - what are you planning for the future now? I think my priorities have changed a lot now. I would still love to shoot for Teen Vogue because I think young voices are still underrepresented in that publication. But my main aim is just to make lots of work, perhaps with more of a fine art approach again. I am a lot more interested in the idea of publishing a book and curating more multimedia exhibitions and events. And releasing all our music in exciting ways - I'm really focussing on making a lot more music videos now so it would be great to get more of those opportunities and some funding for it. We are releasing a 7" soon. I guess the dream is just finding people who believe in what I'm doing and embrace it and help me share it with people; which is down to galleries, labels and publishers. No specific names because you can aspire to a huge name but at the end of the day if they aren't passionate about you then their name means nothing. I just hope the work speaks to someone and if they believe in it that they will back me up. Copyright has become a bit of a grey area in the digital age. Pictures are shared and not always credited, even if it's not for commercial gain. How do you feel about others sharing your work? When I started out, I got quite frustrated about people blogging my work without credit… I guess because whilst you're starting out it's good to get your name shared around. But the blog is today's online scrapbook… I think inspiration is inspiration and it's only positive if it's shared… people will find out who made it if they really wanted to know. People taking work for commercial gain, that's obviously another story, and theft in that sense is always wrong. But art has been re appropriated over and over - collaging is a huge example of that (in fact, Charlotte Sykes wrote a really interesting essay on this in the Shapeshifting zine I curated and published back in May this year, I suggest checking out) - but I think recycling art to create something new just reaffirms a strong idea and shares it… and lots of voices saying the same thing is perhaps a lot more revolutionary than one person's ego claiming hold of an idea and refusing to share it amongst others. If an idea is really really so vital that the world needs to hear it… letting your ego get the better of you… caring more about your name than the message of the work… that's just silly. That's like making the world miss out on beautiful art and important messages just so that you can satisfy your ego… I think that's selfish. Share art… crediting is good, because people can discover more work by that artist but, it's not necessary! It's the work not the artist that matters! Recently lots of celebrities have been declaring themselves as feminists, almost like coming out. They explain how they struggled with the term as feminism in stigmatised in a way. Your work seems to be informed by feminism so what's your take on that? Feminism in popular culture can only be a positive thing. I thought Emma Watson's recent UN speech was really important because she has such an influence over many people who may not have otherwise called themselves feminist or understood the meaning of feminism. I really liked the way that she put it too… including men in feminism; making the idea that equality cannot happen until people do not shun men for being sensitive, and simultaneously people do not shun women for being "bossy". She clarified the idea of equality instead of this stereotype of man-hating. That's what feminism should be… and the more that figureheads like Emma Watson and Beyonce spread the message, the more genuinely intersectional feminism can become - because the problem with it in history is that it comes of as a stereotype, a clique of a certain stereotype of woman… whereas the only way for feminism to reach its goal is to be inclusive of everyone. And the best way to do that is reaching out to the mainstream. It shouldn't be seen as an embarrassing admission to make… it should be celebrated when people casually mention being feminist. It shouldn't be a shock; it should be an unwritten rule that any person with sense wants equal rights for men and women. 12365-394120-applejpg2 12365-394382-websitepolaroid4 12365-395440-flickr23 12365-2129686-CNV00079 12365-5568667-underwater1 12365-5568669-underwater2 Audrey Grace Boutique Lookbook Bullett Magazine Flamingods Promo
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