Representing the creative future

Degree in Progress: Siân Toolan and Antoine Langénieux Villard

The clock is ticking. What work are final year students producing leading up to their degree show?

As the new university term is in full steam, we have already heard a number of postgraduates whisper they are thinking of dropping out. But for those who are nearing the end of their BA degree in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, there is not much time to think of jumping ship: there’s so much work to produce! We visited the studios of Siân Toolan and Antoine Langénieux Villard, both students in the 2D department – whose practises revolve around giving writing a sculptural body, and examining the vocabulary of painting – to find out how their work is progressing so far.

Siân Toolan (2D)

At the moment, my practice is mainly concerned with writing, particularly poems or short text pieces. I’ve been investigating the relationship between food and the body for quite some time, and I’ve been finding parallels between food and art, in terms of materiality and my own experience. It’s quite unstable and self-indulgent. I’m working on some sculptures to accompany writing but I’m not so sure what they’re doing right now.

I’ve been playing with food as a material – things like chocolate, toffee or syrup can be very sculptural and fun. They’re indulgent and there’s an element of desire-disgust, which is often inscribed on the bodies of women. These materials also have a shelf-life which is good for someone who doesn’t like showing work often.

I have struggled with making in the past, so I think I’m still figuring out my process. Writing comes quite naturally, and I’m always noting things down to piece together later. I’m then making sculptures as a response or visual aid to something I’ve written.

I only recently began considering my writing as art-writing (whatever that is) and I still have issues with it. So, I’d really like to push myself in terms of  developing a lengthier or more revealing piece of text. But then I also have plans to make something physically big!

Antoine Langénieux Villard (2D)

At times, you drive your practice, but more often the work produces its own direction. I feel, sometimes, that I am just a tool to allow the painting to do what it needs to do.

In my current work, I aim to question the foundations of images by playing and disrupting the elements that belong to the vocabulary of painting. It is an experimental production: each painting carries or destroys previous ideas. Each work produces a residue that leaves a reservoir of materials for subsequent work. It is a going back and forth, in loop, between collage, painting and writing.

I don’t have a particular process. I’m not attached to a form, but more to the conditions of its emergence. I want to bring tactile qualities to my work by questioning the nature of the support and the tools employed.

For the past year, the question of ‘the collage as a process’ has been feeding my investigation. The method of assemblage is the main characteristic. I found another way to bring together different sources of material, not by superposition but by juxtaposition, by sewing. This allows me to build and question the nature of the surface. Between transparency and opacity, the layers overlap, blurring the planes like the strata of memories, pulled between doubt and certainty.

At the moment, I am experimenting with the use of different devices to question the nature of the pictorial plane. I have recently participated in the Big Space VI that our course director, Alex Schady, organised in the CSM Street. I have tried to resolve things that were not working in terms of display and comprehension of the work. It was a challenge to deal with this massive space! Which is why I have been exploring different ways of installing my work, looking to extend the pictorial field of painting.

Through this collage mural for instance [see images] I can work straight on the wall, and make a work site-specific. This new device will come to inform my next paintings. I feel that my laboratory has grown, and I can express better my ideas.