Jun 18th 2020
We will showcase three Visual Arts Scotland members bi-monthly, spotlighting their work & practice.
These showcased members will be chosen by a monthly guest curator. The invited curator will select makers & artists that interest them from our amazing membership. This will be based on a theme of their choice.
Curator: Sarah Calmus, Artist and President of Visual Arts Scotland
Theme: Experimental exploration
Immersive, participatory and environmental provocations form the basis of Calmus's practice which takes a multidisciplinary approach spanning fixed large scale light installations to month long nomadic social interventions. Interested in psychological and philosophical narratives, her practice is intentionally interdisciplinary; viewed as a series of experiments underpinned with explorations into interaction.
Calmus graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone (2014) in Art, Philosophy and Contemporary Practices, after which she moved to Edinburgh and began volunteering as a Hidden Door Festival team member, where she continues to contribute by developing the festivals content. Sarah is currently President of Visual Arts Scotland.
The third of Sarah's three choices is Yasmeen Khan
"Ysmeen Khan is a printmaker, illustrator and writer based in Edinburgh and it is her mark making through print and the exploratory nature of its richness and use of space that is really exciting to see. Khan’s marks are bold and energetic in form but also delicate, considered. Intricate lines lace throughout and the body of form moves the eye in a rhythmic journey. Highly enigmatic, Khan’s work holds its own in the forms of printing, intaglio printmaking, monotype, etching and mezzotint. The echoes, layers, ghost lines within the medium of print marries well with Khan’s visual explorations, moving over abstract and representation, Khan points to these trails in inspiration; “"To tell a story is always to invoke ghosts, to open a space through which something other returns...All stories are, more or less, ghost stories." (Julian Wolfreys) "
Tell us a little bit about your artistic background/education
I graduated from Falmouth University's MA Illustration (Authorial Practice) in 2016. On the course I produced a book of short stories that I wrote, illustrated, designed and bound – it was very important to me to do everything from start to finish. In 2017 I moved to Edinburgh to take up a year-long Artist in Residence position at ECA's Illustration department. Now I live in Edinburgh and am a member of Edinburgh Printmakers.
Before that, I took a lot of evening classes – life drawing, printmaking, a term of sculpture – and worked as a writer at a video game company before deciding to fulfil my dream of going to art college.
Could you describe your practice?
I'm concerned with atmosphere, evocativeness, ambiguity and genre. I like to create vignettes – little bits of storytelling including images and illustrated stories, on the page or perhaps as recordings or videos. My vignettes are ghost stories, about the ways in which an idealised version of the past haunts our presence and our present.
In practice, this means I like variety – some days I might make a lot of monoprints, other times I might spend a lot of time on one aquatint or mezzotint plate, or I might be developing and designing a story text at home on the computer.
What are your art influences? Which contemporary artists/makers do you admire and why?
I love the way print processes can create atmosphere, and printmakers like Gustave Doré, Giovanni Piranesi, Odilon Redon, Norman Ackroyd and Bill Jacklin are great influences on me, as are romantic Victorian era painters like Millais, Waterhouse, Aivazovsky and Grimshaw. I also love the storytelling of traditional illustrators like Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, and contemporaries including Jeffrey Alan Love, Lorenzo Mattotti, Guy Dickinson and Neil Lovell. What all these have in common that's important for me are their compelling uses of colour and texture to support evocative imagery.
Modern digitally painted concept art is hugely inspirational to me as well. There are hundreds of artists making amazing work developing visual styles and scenes for films and games, including Jordan Grimmer, Eytan Zana, Jaime Jones, Paolo Puggioni and so many more. What I love is the combination of loose painting styles and vast imagined worlds, intended as spaces for storytelling to happen in.
I'd also name directors and cinematographers like Denis Villeneuve, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Roger Deakins, Werner Herzog and Kore-Eda Hirokazu as important influences both visually and narratively, for many of the same reasons – they create landscapes full of meaning that we can respond to and get lost in.
What makes a good day in the studio for you?
It's about flow, I think, that special kind of concentration you sink into where you don't notice things outside the work, and time passes differently. If you can find flow then you'll have a satisfying day, even if the work isn't perfect.
In the studio – music, audiobook, podcast, Radio or silence?
Silence, or sometimes music – perhaps Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson or Olafur Arnalds, artists who create evocative worlds in sound.
What is coming up next for you and where can we see more of you work?
Next is a good question – I am open to offers! At the moment I'm actively looking for commissions for art and writing – I'd love to do more work for hire and branch out into areas like book covers or card design. I'd also really like to find more residencies and opportunities to show work.
This summer I'm hoping to use time at home to do more work in watercolours and cyanotypes. Otherwise, I'm looking forward to the reopening of the studio and the chance to get back to making prints – I've missed it a great deal.
You can see my work in a few places – my website is https://yasmeenkhan.net/ and my instagram is https://www.instagram.com/yasmeen.khan.art/ . I have contributed writing to the browser game Fallen London - https://www.fallenlondon.com/login and art to the game Below - http://below.storynexus.com/s . I also write film-related articles occasionally, you can see many of these at https://thequietus.com/users/7622.