In conversation with Eva Gold

at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, United Kingdom

María Gracia de Pedro in conversation with Eva Gold.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Eva Gold, currently in the 3rd year of the Postgraduate Program at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. I asked her few questions in order to get closer to her practice. 
Eva Gold, born in Manchester, is one of the youngest artists at the RA Schools – a free, full-time recognized program where hundreds of artists apply every year. She previously graduated from Goldsmiths, where she studied a BA in Fine Art & Art History.
Her practice is both conceptually and materially driven. Indeed, she affirms that for her, it’s very relevant to make things that make her happy, and art is one of those things. The body is a constant in her works, connected to feelings of desire and pleasure, but also shame, disgust and humiliation. When I got into her studio, I felt overwhelmed by the set up that I found, where differentnon-bodies were filling the space. Gold recreates these shapes, inspired by the human body but never making a proper figure.

MG: When did you start making art?

EG: I used to make a lot of stuff as a kid, with the help of my dad in his workshop. From the age of about 16 I was pretty focussed on going to study art, against the advice of most of my teachers. But I was living in Manchester, which doesn’t have a lot of visual arts stuff going on, so I applied to do a foundation in London at Central Saint Martins. After that I started at Goldsmiths, and then I applied to the Postgraduate Program at the Royal Academy of Arts, where we are now.
MG: Why did you choose the Postgraduate Program here? I am aware that so many artists apply every year and they make a selection of 17 only.
EG: I’d heard about the RA Schools and I knew it was the only postgraduate study programme which was free, so I put together a portfolio while I was still on my BA and applied. Since I came straight from undergrad – half of which was history of art – I wanted to really develop the studio side of my practice, and having three years to do this seemed perfect.
MG: Your work draws inspiration from fragility and power at the same time. Can you tell me more about your practice and from where do you take references?
EG: Mostly it is centred around pleasure, but this is often in relation to feelings of disgust, and the proximity between these two. In terms of my research a lot of that comes through cinema, and the ways it is able to make its audience feel things, without necessarily having to think about them first. I come back to the American landscape a lot – it’s such a generic space to inhabit but at the same time there’s a real specificity to our memories of it, even if they aren’t our own memories as such. Cinema is a very manipulative medium, and by understanding the structures it adheres to I hope to be able to translate some of them into both the three dimensional works and into my writing. Writing has become more and more central to my practice actually, as a space to develop the characters which appear in the sculptures, as bodies in various forms.

[Detail] Baby, 2018 (Bowling pin, steel)

MG: Explain to me, what do you mean when you say bodies, as I can’t see any proper human figures here?
EG: The bodies are fragmented or imagined,in various states of trauma or submission. I see the furniture works as ciphers for bodies, or characters in themselves. Bodies as furniture or furniture as bodies; characters which shape shift through materials and spaces.The materials I use relate to touch: towelling, sandpaper, PVC, latex, soap – these are all bodily in a sense. Some are more fetishistic in an explicit way, but others have a different kind of perversity, in their relation to cleanliness or order – and ultimately control.
MG: I cannot forget the first time I saw your works “Tender hooks 1″ and “Tender hooks 2”, at the Premiums: Interim Projects at Royal Academy of Arts, last April. There, a familiar and pendant carved soap called my attention. The soap drove me straight away to my grandma’s house in the countryside, as it is rare to find those soaps nowadays. But at the same time, the sexual content was so explicit with a hair on it. Now, you are showing to me other pieces with soap, why the choice of this material?
EG: This material, and specifically this smell – which is a very generational thing – is an immediate memory trigger for most people. I find the genericism here really important, and so this reference becomes the entry point for the work. The carving of an anus is pretty intensely detailed, and it slides between feelings of desire and disgust. It’s the threshold between these two states that I’m interested in, and it seems to be interesting territory for thinking through feelings of shame too. 
I started doing those pieces last year when my studio was very private. I don’t think I’d have made them if I knew people could see me doing it – it’s a very intimate and involved process. It’s a weird thing to do, to be honest.  

Uncle Wrinkle, 2018 (Imperial Leather Soap, 5x8x2cm)
MG: What advice would you give to someone that is starting her career? Is there something you did that helped you at the beginning?
EG: I would say to make the work that you feel the most uncomfortable making, and try and get to the bottom of why.
MG: Do you have a favourite contemporary artist, which inspires you?
EG: I would say Elizabeth Price. I admire her precision, it’s incredibly tight.
MG: What is your favourite art space in London and why?
EG: I think Raven Row is great– it’s the combination of white cube and domestic spaces that makes it so interesting I think. And it’s a bit of a maze too, I like that feeling of stumbling across the artworks. 
MG: Last but not least, where can we see your works soon? Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
EG: I have a show on at the moment called Die Wohnung (The Dwelling). It is duo exhibition with Madeleine Pledge at SET Project Space in London and the show runs until 7thJanuary 2019 (by appointment)
Softly, Softly, 2018 (Plastic leather, polyester wadding, elastic, Perspex, polystyrene box, steel)
Eva Gold (b.1994, Manchester) lives and works in London, United Kingdom. She brings together sculpture, installation, moving image and writing. Selected solo exhibitions include Let me look at you, Centre for Recent Drawing, London, A Bead of Sweat, Stilled,Lily Brooke, London. Selected group exhibitions include Minimum III, Gesso Art Space, Vienna, SLAB, A.P.T Gallery, London and Plan.Open. Neo Craft, Arebyte Gallery, amongst others.