A chat with Heidi Brickell

We caught up with Heidi Brickell after her recent show at Rm. Two of her paintings are featured in Potroast Issue 11.

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Potroast: How is your day going?    
Heidi: Mercifully fluid, and unforced. I’m in still in bed and I’ve accomplished a lot.

PT: Tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment
H: Well, I’ve just presented a show at Rm last week, so now I’m in a familiar post- exhibition pattern: lots of ideas blossoming and hoping I’ll find time amongst all the demands of things I’m catching back up on, to experiment with some of them before they go stale. I’m thinking about comedy, I guess, as a general theme.

PT: What can you tell us about the two works that are included in Potroast #11?
H: They are very painting concerned paintings, by which I mean, they are concerned with trying to find a space between their corporeality or objecthood and the natural symbolic projections they invite. They are both quite landscape-ish. I think that something they are both concerned with is setting up a language that declares their own opacity as an object – just making their surfaces catch your attention, through the way the fronds of the brushes used show, and by allowing portions of the cotton duck and its weave to contribute to the painted image as a whole. Also, glueing more of it on in a way that tries to make the animal fat in the primer I use sort of seductive, or maybe repulsive; and then trying to refigure old push and pull tropes with the paint, like receding colours and scales, in ways that are unexpected, so that your body somehow believes that it is apprehending a window into a distance.

I guess in terms of the ‘values’ they talk to, there is a romanticism in both of them which is mediated in different ways… in the red and coal and silvery one, by so many clumsy, amateurish marks.. and in the more compact reds and fleshes with blue, I think more by the way it is pieced together as an image on the canvas and by the brown spills on the raw stretched part.

PT: The works in Potroast #11 are both oil on canvas. Do you feel a particular attachment to painting as a medium?
H: I don’t know. I can’t figure out whether my perpetual return to it is because of nature or nurture.

PT: With the theme of this issue being ‘home’, can you describe what you think of when you think of home?
H: Maybe it is the place that you feel your own subjectivity is appreciated, so it’s some mediation between a shared and an idiosyncratic (or relatively ‘original’) understanding of an environment and your place within it.

Maybe another way of thinking of home is a sort of anthropomorphic projection of your body. So your body is sort of the container that your consciousness travels and carves its way in the outside world in, and a home is a place that in a sense the boundary walls of self extend to the perimeters of a house or landscape or group. An inside/outside inversability?

PT: What are you reading at the moment?
H: Ngā Tautohetohe: Years of Anger by Ranginui Walker – a compilation of his articles for the listener from the 1970s up until 1987 discussing the effects of colonialism from a Māori perspective, emphasising the disparity in narratives between Māori and Pakeha cultures that frame ways in which people understood New Zealand to have been settled.

Aaand Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut… so so enjoyable.. I can’t figure out why.. I don’t think its social parody is so particularly insightful, I think it is the fleshy pictures of the characters in the story.

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