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Jarman Award Artist Profile: Stephen Sutcliffe

Date posted: 10.10.2014

Glasgow-based artist Stephen Sutcliffe speaks about how his distinctive practice developed, and his early experiences of Derek Jarman's work while at art school.

Sutcliffe will be in conversation at CCA, Glasgow on Thursday 16 October as part of the current 2014 Jarman Award touring programme of events.

 

About the Artist

Stephen Sutcliffe creates film collages from an extensive archive of British television, film sound, broadcast images and spoken word recordings he has been collecting since childhood.

Stephen Sutcliffe, Plum, 2012. Courtesy of the artist.


Often reflecting on aspects of British culture and identity, the results are melancholic, poetic and satirical amalgams which subtly tease out and critique ideas of class-consciousness and cultural authority.

Sutcliffe's works are often characteristically short in length, which he suggests was born out of a reaction to the dominance of "ponderous and long" video work that had been prevalent when he began making work.

"I wanted to make short, pithy videos that by the time you've got bored with them they've finished!" Sutcliffe explains.

Awkward Subjects

The idea of self-doubt is a prevailing theme in Sutcliffe's work, specifically "how artists deal with self doubt and nervousness". "I've always been drawn towards awkward subjects" observes Sutcliffe' who admits being fascinated by the idea of articstic self doubt which he researches through voraciously reading the biographies of other artists and filmmakers.

"I think self-doubt is a problematic subject to broach if you're an artist', says Sutcliffe, 'because obviously people want to know that you understand and believe in your own work so it's something artists don't really talk about because they worry that people will think 'well he doesn't know what he's doing so why should I buy into it''.

Jarman's Influence

Reflecting on Jarman's influence on his own practice, Sutcliffe recalls writing his first undergraduate essay at art school on Jarman's 1986 film Caravaggio and discusses his own early interest in painting prior to moving across to working with film and video.

He continues "I was looking at Jarman as a filmmaker as well as Caravaggio as a painter before I even went to art school, while I was still working in a bank."

Recent Projects

In 2014 Sutcliffe was one of six artists selected to take part in the BBC's Artists and Archives: Artists' Moving Image project, for which he undertook a process of research, development and production at BBC Scotland.

During the residency, Sutcliffe produced a short film entitled The Hidden God, which was recently screened at Tate Modern, reworks a BBC television programme The Hidden God: Alain Robbe-Grillet using methods appropriated from Pasolini's trailer for his 1969 film Medea.

Stephen Sutcliffe's work has been screened extensively at both film festivals and in a gallery context, with recent solo exhibitions including Outwork and Workings out, Tramway, Glasgow (2013) and Runaway, Success, Stills, Edinburgh (2011).

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