After winning the SSA Award for her installation Aquifer in the 2015 exhibition, Juliana Capes was invited to make an ambitious new installation for this year’s exhibition. She is exhibiting an installation of lost umbrellas, sourced from Lost property departments, that will break boundaries and soar through the iconic spaces.
Objects carry much significance, attracting bravado or anxiety. In “Diaspora (paradiso)” a flock of lost umbrellas is taking flight, moving en masse and crossing thresholds to escape the curse upon those who open indoors. Influenced by images of the refugee crisis and Gustave Dore’s Paradiso etchings, showing the soul’s progress towards heaven, Juliana ponders what it takes to change an individual’s fate.
We asked Juliana about life as an artist, what inspires her and what she is working on now.
What drives your passion, when did you know that art is what you wanted to do?
Since I can remember, I have always considered myself an artist and have never wanted to do anything else. I’ve constantly been satisfied by the ability of art to put a person in fascinating situations with inspiring people.
How did you get where you are now in your career?
I’ve learnt to make my own contexts, seek out collaborators and define my success as being able to continue to make work. A dollop of tenacity and a well-developed sense of wonder has been a necessity too.
What do you make and what are the ideas behind what you make?Recently I have been making complex, ambitious installations that find simple ways to animate spaces. I am also looking to find new ways to engage and present visual art in the public sphere.
I also paint, draw, sculpt, perform and make films. Conceptually, ideas change and reoccur. The natural world is a major source of inspiration, as is human behaviour. I aim for a simple sense of wonder and transformation, through an ability to make everyday objects extraordinary.
What inspires you?
Gosh, what doesn’t? Murmurations. Sunsets. The behaviour of crowds. Belief. The everyday. The broken. The lost. Emotions. Objects. People. Places. Broken mirrors and the underside of ladders. Entropy. Community. Collective nouns. Lists.
Where do you work? What is your average working day?
I have a studio at Tribe Porty in Portobello, Edinburgh, which is two minutes from my house. It’s a great space full of creative professionals from different disciplines. I share a little room with a skylight with two filmmakers.
I don’t have an average working day. I’m usually responding to differing opportunities and ideas, so can be doing very different things from week to week. I also have two small children to look after and work with people in communities and galleries.
What are you working on now?
I’ve recently been working on making and recording some very risky public installations that are then unmade by the public. I’m trying to capture something of the vulnerable relationship between an artist and audience. These are developing into films and installations.
I’m also currently exploring a series of drawings made from mirrors and nail varnish.