FASHION ATELIER OF HAUTE COUTURE STREET TRASH
interview with British interdisciplinary artist Martha Haversham.
Tiny pieces of trash like scrumpled up leaves, feathers found on the street, gum and candy wrappers get recycled and become the center of these delicate miniature art pieces wildly popular on Martha’s instagram handle, @smallditch. I love how she uses instagram as a platform and “ atelier” to convey her thoughts on value and worth; fast fashion, and consumerism.
Tell us about yourself Martha
I was born in London and am the sum of two parts, pretty much - a ballet dancer mother and a photographer father. As kids, we were encouraged to experiment with a multiplicity of art forms, to play and make things and I suppose I haven't stopped.
Most interesting response to your work, you've heard so far?
'Why do your legs not have women on them?'
Your greatest inspirations or influences?
Our childhood homes were a series of beautiful room sets for my father, so I was influenced by natural light and how it travels, aesthetics of composition and natural found objects. All the great artists and photographers were lying about - Avedon, Horst, Norman Parkinson and Irving Penn etc., in books and magazines. Now and then I read a bit of philosophy, it is good brain gymnastics and Arthur Shopenhauer makes me laugh.
I also have a very strong sense of make-believe for small scale and love toys, children's picture books..I admire the work of the late US artist Joan Steiner and the absurdity of Monty Python.
I studied classical ballet and this greatly influences my understanding of how bodies and fabrics move in space. I am inspired by some of the greatest works of choreography - Anthony Tudor's Dark Elegies is a Modernist masterpiece and Gloria by Kenneth MacMillan.
Music too always inspires me, I do large charcoal drawings on the floor to Massive Attack. But ultimately, just walking and observing nature, that is the greatest inspiration of all.
Your thoughts on the art industry?
The most depressing thing I read recently, was a curator and gallery owner giving advice to young art graduates saying that it still mattered where they went to art school; that basically, it is still who you know that gives your work value and status.
I like to think that status is the prize that comes with hard work, commitment to the process, mastery of your own technique and the ability to inspire others.
Value is inherent in the worth of an idea and it's execution. Visual art has democratised fundamentally in terms of global exposure but it is still very difficult to be taken seriously by the fine art establishment if you do not conform to a stereotype. It confuses people - the trick is to move forward both creatively and digitally, irrespective of gallery representation and hype.
Favourite websites, publications or social media handles?
The London Review of Books is dense, wonderful and I get it for free from an artist friend who scrawls all over it for me in Biro.
For social satire, read John Crace in The Guardian online and for a magazine, The World of Interiors is just lovely to have around.
I live on Instagram and follow many favourite accounts, here are a few:
Danielle Krysa an artist who runs @thejealouscurator is a powerful champion of women in the contemporary visual arts and without her, I would not have the exposure;
Immense fun can be found with this chap @quentinsmirhes and living in Essex, I am an avid follower of @essexwildlifetrust.
Finally, the website Artquest is a great for artist support with mouth-watering opportunities.
Anything else you'd like to share with us.
I left my comfort zone recently and did some portraits for a beautiful American actor who had posted something of mine on his Instagram account and I got a lot of traction as a result. I asked if I could put him in various hats as a thank you. It was a bit nerve-wracking, would he like them? So I sent over some samples to 'try on' and happily he chose a couple of his favourites as prints. I found the whole experience very interesting - it was a fun collaboration whereby I took a stock photo of him online and we 'reclaimed' it creatively with some found fashion millinery.