14 November 2013

Bette Ward: The Goldfinger of Art

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae
Video: Goldfinger

You may remember her from such endeavours as Bats Magazine; Bette Ward has grown, not in stature, but in her horizons. The creative spearhead has delved into the art world. Her latest opus Liquid Gold is the result of formal artistic study. Undoubtedly, she is the gold-drenched Pussy Galore of her graduate year inspiring the same awestruck reaction as Bond’s “I must be dreaming”. 

As Goldfinger said: "This is gold, Mr Bond. All my life, I have been in love with its color, its brilliance, its divine heaviness."

I asked the walking Oscar about her metallic masterpiece.

SE: So what does the colour gold mean to you?
BW: Well it’s an aesthetic colour that can encompass a number of different feelings. It’s something that’s been the pinnacle of importance from the time of Cleopatra till today. It can mean things that are terrible expensive or luxurious also incredibly tacky and quite even unassuming in a way and gold is a colour that can pick up on its surroundings. When it’s used in certain respects it can be both overwhelming and very understated as per say with a gold Lamborghini or with a piece of gold jewellery it can mean entirely different things depending on who’s wearing it or where it’s placed.

SE: What does it mean in your artwork and how does that relate to your whole concept?
BW: Well my art concept is that there is no concept in that it is a complete aesthetic value. As an aestheticist I find the importance of beauty in my work as something that is very poignant. For me beauty can be a complete concept and I think that is something that is very unused especially within a lot of contemporary art. It is not something that is very highly considered with the concept highly placed I guess within the aesthetic sphere of a lot of contemporary works especially.

SE: So within your art practice has this been a common theme to focus on the aesthetic value as opposed to a conceptual underlying idea?
BW: It’s been unusually common to my practice, but in a way that it’s only come to the surface quite recently. I think previously it has been something that I have conflicted with a lot of the time I tried to make up a concept to go with something that I thought was particularly pretty or particularly beautiful in my own opinion. The biggest leap I’ve taken within the artistic sphere is the realisation and acceptance that you don’t have to necessarily have an artwork that is based on a concept rather than something that is an aesthetic. And that an aesthetic can ironically become a concept.

SE: Do you think that’s something that people place to high a value on – having an inherent meaning?
BW: Oh definitely! Especially in contemporary art… You can have something that is beautiful that can have a concept within that, so it’s a very high-pressure situation to have something that is going to change the world. I don’t think that’s necessarily correct – you don’t have to have something that is going to mean everything in the future. I think a lot of artists that have become very successful have not necessarily bothered to think of a conceptual meaning behind it, but rather explore within it and created something from that. I think that when you create art you always have to have a concept of at least your materials and how you’re going to present them otherwise it’s not going to work, it’s not going to be anything. But I think conceptually that’s been taken into a whole new sphere that is sometimes quite unnecessary.

SE: Can you walk me through your piece and explain the elements?
BW: So the overall main colour within it is gold – that is the ultimate material in it. The gold is very important. It’s a gold lamé fabric, so that’s specifically designed to catch particular light within it to give it a certain dimension as opposed to a flat object. They way that it’s done is quite important as well. Half of it is done quite stretched, so it gives a lot more of a stressed appearance, some of it is purposely draped and given a purpose seam… The focus of the work is the head within the work, which has a stretch gold material over it as well. The way that it’s placed is in one strip fabric, but its been hung in a particular way to give the 3D dimension of it. So it’s supposed to be a flat line, it curves over itself so that it doesn’t necessarily end there. But basically the work is not intended to be considered in conceptual notion besides what the viewer can attain from it or from what I intended it to be, which is a beautiful work. As well, the way that fabric is particularly lit, if your looking at it with your back to the work in the darkness of the room, the gold reflects on the faces of people who are looking at it too. Which is also a symbol for gold. In every clichéd Disney movie they open the gold chest and the gold on their face on not in the chest.

Disclaimer (FULL DISCLOSURE: The author has a personal relationship with Bette Ward)

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