Bianca Barandun: Line In Sand

Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop is an exhibition space and studio based in West London, geared with the intention of providing artists with a place to develop and showcase their work. The selected residency programmes they advertise, offer an invaluable abundance of time in addition to spacious working facilities, allowing creative individuals the opportunity to explore and expand their practice.

Residencies are key in providing emerging artists with the necessary freedom to create work without pressure of financial gain, essentially granting artists a crucial chance to define and carve the start of a directional future.

Bianca Barandun, the most recent participant of their solo artist residency has just completed a three month period working in their bright and spacious studio space, finishing with a solo exhibition of her work, titled ‘Line in Sand.’

A body of sculptural paintings examining social relationships and how these relate to the behaviours of physical materials, Barandun uses the basis of human interaction observed in societal hierarchy and group dynamics, looking at how these particular power structures apply to art and the characteristic dominance materiality presents. Through constant experimentation with surface, Barandun plays with tactile depth, allowing the materials to engage independently to form an ambiguous visual language.

Bianca’s distinctive style has truly flourished during her time at Unit 1, I sat down with the artist and gallery owner Stacie McCormick to find out how the residency has been a benefit to them both.

 

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Installation view, Bianca Barandun, Line In Sand, 2018, at Unit 1 Gallery_Workshop, London. Images courtesy of the artist & gallery.

 

CB: Do you feel at this point in your practice you have really benefited from doing a residency?

BB: Yes, absolutely! I finished studying at RCA one and a half years ago and this is the best time for me to do residencies because I know what I want to do and where I want to go.

SM: The interview process is really important, so we’ve had some artists that when I look at their practice and what they’re doing, their practice is so developed that the residency it’s actually them just stealing space. So this growth aspect, this risk taking, I try to recognise that there will be a shift by being here, not just a continuation of practice.

CB: Yeah I guess you’re right, you need to grow from it and if someones already really established are they really benefitting from the space?

SM: Well I think even established artists that are in between where they’re going with their practice, it’s still great because it shakes you up and you move your practice in a different way.

CB: With the printmaking that you specialised in, do you feel like some of the techniques still apply to your work now?

BB: I’m not a traditional print maker but I really like to see artists that have printmaking backgrounds. I really love that touch in the art, I think it adds something extra. Also in my work I’m using printmaking methods but adapting it to different materials, so instead of paper I’m using jesmonite or plaster and also layers, for example this is not a copy it’s a transfer, so this kind of playing with materiality and surface.

SM: I think it’s the putting on and pulling off that you never escape, as a painter I’m still a print maker, it’s that lovely thing that when you pull it back you get that surprise, like a treasure hunt.

CB: Is it quite hard to stop, constantly adding and taking away, do you think you know when a piece is done?

BB: I think I feel it mostly, I stop when it’s 99% finished because otherwise it’s going to bother me because if it’s too done and when I know that it’s just almost there, I kind of feel it. But sometimes I still send a picture to a friend of mine asking, ‘What do you think?’ and then I sleep on it. Especially big pieces, I come in and I’m seeing it again with fresh eyes, so its stopping just before.

 

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Bianca Barandun, Studio Residency at Unit 1 Gallery _ Workshop, 2018, Images Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery _ Workshop

 

CB: Do you feel like you set out with a clear vision in mind or is it quite intuitive in terms of how you go about creating the final piece?

BB: So I was sketching on paper for the first month and a half. I have my topic and I do sketches of it so I have a clear image, basically designing and it’s more the feeling that I’m captivating in these little sketches for the big ones. A lot of the time it’s just what come out naturally.

CB: So sometimes it can take on a new path by itself? I also read that you like to set a challenge for yourself research wise, in almost a scientific way, can you tell me about that?

SM: She has these almost, scientific autonomies for materials. These found metal objects, then there’s these jesmonite shapes and pieces that become a whole other vocabulary and she catalogs them all on the floor. They really are categorised in that same way, the scene of an experiment.

CB: Where do you find the objects you gather for your projects?

BB: Everywhere, I work part time as a technician in a print making room so from I take a lot of influence from there, from the interactions I see in group dynamics, with the hierarchy and the forms and thinking how do these forms play with each other? So taking what I see from there along with what I get from when I walk around London, it’s such treasure box.

 

Boundary_BiancaBarandun_4Boundary_BiancaBarandun_5Installation view, Bianca Barandun, Line In Sand, 2018, at Unit 1 Gallery_Workshop, London. Images courtesy of the artist & gallery.

 

CB: Do you have any rituals or listen to any type of music to get you into the head space to create?

BB: It’s about working with my mind space and the different moods I’m in, like,’OK I’m in this mood, I’m doing this now,’ but I also listen to a lot of music so just having my headphones on and dancing about helps. With music it’s also the rhythms, when I create the little ones, the smaller pieces I’m always trying to have a connection between them, because when you have the music, you have the rhythm, you do something fast and it comes out of the preparation, movement and expression.

CB: What do you feel like you’ve learnt from doing this residency just about the way you approach your work and is there anything you’d like to develop?

BB: Yeah loads, definitely for me it’s the first time to actually look at the work properly and not having to take it down which is amazing because previously in shared spaces I’ve had to take things down, I couldn’t spread out too much. So this is the first time I can lay things out, look at them and test them out since I’m playing with a variety of materials.

CB: I guess sometimes materials are quite hard to control, you don’t always know how they’re going to behave or they have a mind of their own, do you enjoy working with their unpredictable nature?

BB: I actually enjoy accidents when they happen and then I think, ‘OK how can I use this specifically,’ so it’s almost unconsciously planned. For example these shapes up here, I didn’t plan them, I kind of knew where they could go, but there’s a lot of manifesting accidents, if thats possible. Also how the spray paint drags, I’m a really bad spray painter, which is amazing because I don’t want to be accurate with it, it should be in this accidental way. You can’t plan, when I put another material in jesmonite, or pouring it over sometimes, it just disappears, hidden underneath, it’s gone and that’s fine.

CB: It’s interesting that you’ve have hidden layers to the work that the viewer can’t necessarily see, but you as the artist know its there.

SM: Her work is deeply embedded beyond the surface because they are really liquid they start liquid. It’s fascinating to me because they’re paintings because they’re hanging on the wall but they’re really sculptural pieces.

 

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Installation view, Bianca Barandun, Line In Sand, 2018, at Unit 1 Gallery_Workshop, London. Images courtesy of the artist & gallery.

 

CB: Stacie, how have you enjoyed being involved with Bianca’s work?

SM: We’ve had a bond, we really have. When the applications come in and you look at the work, you look at a lot of work and there’s work that really sticks. I really had a visual response to photographs of her work and then in the process of interviewing there were artists that I think maybe intellectually maybe would’ve been better for the organisation you know because they had stature but it just kept coming back to that real gut instinct of, ‘I’m sure I’m going to love working with this person,’ and the decision was based on that.

CB: With the applicants you look at, are there specific disciplines you give priority to or are you quite open?

SM: I try to really remain open and also trust the solar plexus because I’m going to be working so close with them. The next selection is going to be a woman, she’s an amazing Slade graduate. It was really difficult this time because the caliber was just parallel and I went to the current Whitechapel exhibition and it was really clear where she belonged in the current vocabulary and I had such respect for that exhibition, that suddenly I thought this person in this arena, she’s really going to fly. That vocabulary is out there right now so it made a lot of sense to select her, I think it’s going to be really exciting because she is quite conceptual, environmental and looks at the Anthropocene which I’ve been reading a lot about, so it’s going to be a lot more intellectual then a physical experience.

CB: Has the residency programme been a learning curve for you Stacie, or do you think you’ve developed a good understanding of how to approach things?

SM: I was taken out at the knees by this one, you know every time you think you learn something and now you’re prepared but then something else happens, you really have to be resilient and flexible. I think also I’m maturing in the process, I think in the earlier stages it was such a delivery on a dream of mine, I needed more from them. Now the kind of long distance vision of this is really wanting to have a kind of huge impact on as many artists as possible and me being less attached, it’s a very emotional thing.

CB: Is it quite hard to let go, once the residency is over?

SM: Yes, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! My olympic desire to control everything, I come from an architectural project management background which control is essential for, but the more I learn to let go with this, the more fun I’m having. I think the artists prefer it because you get out of their way, you have to become strictly a support mechanism, I don’t think it’s a skill that comes naturally and I’m having to adapt and learn what that really means in order to boost people, make them feel stronger and really make them feel safe. That it is a friendly non-judgemental environment, with very few rules, but you feel safe enough to completely let go whatever way you can and for me to bite my lip.

CB: I think its great that you’re an artist as well, do residents find you can understand them on a more personal level?

SM: We’re in the trenches together, just figuring it out. I really understand that this is a really intimate thing we do, that feels very private but wants to be massively public and its almost a contradiction in itself. Then to let go of the finished work and say, ‘It’s not mine anymore,’ it’s a type of loss but at the same time its what its all about.

 

Boundary_BiancaBarandun_6 Boundary_BiancaBarandun_7Installation view, Bianca Barandun, Line In Sand, 2018, at Unit 1 Gallery_Workshop, London. Images courtesy of the artist & gallery.

 

CB: Has Stacie had an input in your creative process?

BB: I think it was actually your idea to put pigment into jesmonite.

SM: Which I think has been really successful because it’s painterly but sculptural at the same time.

BB: I feel I cant control it but it still looks really nice.

SM: It denies the surface, it becomes an object and I think thats fascinating, I love that aspect.

CB: The spray paint adds something extra, I like how it’s quite impulsive.

BB: Over there I used it to almost mimic tape, because I normally use a lot of tape in different colours. Generally I like that it’s quite expressive.

CB: Was the work you were trying to create site specific?

BB: I trusted in the work I’m doing and thought, ‘OK this the work I’m doing for 3 months,’ so yeah there is a link subconsciously. When I’m working on a body of work this is the premise, you work here you show your work here.

SM: There’s such a risk when you’ve already designed a show, that the work doesn’t fly because it just sits there not to be seen, so I think with a background in architecture, design and distinction is profound. I do know different residents have a tendency to start to think about the show way before they should be.

CB: How were you at managing your time, because I guess at the start three months can seem like a long time?

SM: I think you definitely started to make a lot more work towards the end because you knew you wouldn’t be able to anymore soon, so just enforcing that desire of, ‘I’m here and I can do this.’

BB: See now I’m thinking, I need another 3 months because there’s still a lot I want to do, also the push you get from being here because you really are so spoilt having all this space, so you want to make brilliant work.

SM: Scarecity is a great motivator, when you know time is limited.

CB: But I bet its been invaluable, allowing you to spend time just defining your practice?

SM: I’ve noticed that with most of the artists that have done the solo residency, they really are catalysed more quickly to the next place in their practice, one because they get a lot of attention and that opportunity to have such a professional show experience. We’ve had three of our artists here just sky rocket and I have every reason to believe the same for Bianca.

BB: I think if I had more time, I would just make way more work, when I feel something is finished its finished, but then I already have ideas for a new one.

 

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Installation view, Bianca Barandun, Line In Sand, 2018, at Unit 1 Gallery_Workshop, London. Images courtesy of the artist & gallery.

 

CB: I really like the contrasting scale of work on display.

BB: Yes I’m a lot less precious about the smaller ones.

SM: They have the same enigma as the big ones but they’re a lot friendlier.

CB: With your use of MDF, do you think that temporary feeling is something that resonates in your work?

BB: I think it’s more to do with stills, like I’m showing a shot or segment of something more emotional.

SM: I also get the impression of urban gestures, these things that you pass on the street that you make you go, ‘Wow that’s really beautiful and its happened all by itself,’ but then elevating them, so these very humble materials are made sculptural and painterly.

BB: Yeah the work is kind of like creating a language, especially with the spray paint, which is obviously used for street language, which I think is beautiful.

CB: It’s really nice actually the sort of relationship you have and how the residency has influenced your practice too Stacie.

SM: Its heaven and I think really selfishly I didn’t anticipate that and what that would mean for me. Weaving my practice into this initiative is complex and I wanted it to happen organically because there was a real risk of it totally being misinterpreted. I think for quite a bit of time I put my own practice on a back seat so this could just be itself and now I feel really confident and excited about showing work and very privileged to have worked with these amazing artists.

 

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Bianca Barandun, Studio Residency at Unit 1 Gallery _ Workshop, 2018, Images Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery _ Workshop

 

CB: You also run another residency with ten artists for four weeks?

SM: Yes, they finish and have the show together at the same time as the solo residency, which is great because that’s what creates this big, big buzz. There is this agenda to create a place that artists are interested in working in by giving back, because there aren’t many artists out there that are creating opportunities for other artists and I find that weird.

CB: Do you feel like you would work together in the future again?

BB: Yes definitely!

SM: The whole community of artists we’re really building, I don’t ever want to leave that, I mean we are and will be developing all kinds of benefits for the people that engage with it.

BB: There’s also people downstairs which are super nice and really good to talk to that I’m going to keep in contact with. Also finding out about other artists I knew before but didn’t actually understand what their practice was all about, seeing this kind of connection and how we can actually talk and do things is inspiring.

SM: It’s really part of an agenda I’ve had for a while and that is to create a community of artists that are very interested in helping each other and not competing. A community of artists that are bound by experience typically because I think you can’t bring people together by a membership fee or anything else, except working together and thats why it’s called the workshop foundation. When you work together, you create an understanding and a bond that’s lasting.

CB: What’s next for you Bianca?

BB: I’m going to go back to my studio and I know what I’m working on and want to continue with. Otherwise I’m looking for other residencies because actually this is the first residency I’ve applied to ever, so that was really nice to be successful and I think it’s definitely something I want to do more of. I’m feeling really confident that something will come up.

Hearing how the residency has played such a vital role in Bianca developing her own practice, I’m reminded of the significant importance of programmes like this, supporting and nourishing the artists of our future. The bond Bianca and Stacie have developed is evident of a successful working relationship, with each individual gaining an insightful friendship. Bianca’s talent alone ensures the basis for a promising artistic career, aided by the guidance, support and self belief installed by the residency, it’s prevalent this artist really has a bright fate ahead.

 

Bianca Barandun is an artist based in East London, visit here to see more of her work.

Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop run a solo residency programme every three months, visit here for more details.