Meeting Joyce Iwaszko

Chloe Evans II August 28th

After seeing Iwaszko's installation I was extremely interested in hearing what kind of work she produces as a whole, not just at the exhibition she is currently a part of at The Airspace Gallery, Hanley. I asked her to explain to me in 100 words about her art and Iwaszko responded by telling me that her ‘practice utilises unconventional materials to create unique contemporary works, using ceramic pigments, clay, cement and paint, as well as often incorporating installation. I explore colour, scale, and surface, aiming to converge histories and a sense of place. The work is concerned with identity, secret codes and temporary existence’.

When viewing the exhibition it was brought to my attention that the enchanting colour scheme used was to work inline with the Stoke On Trent City Of Culture 2021 bid and the promotional pieces that they have produced, when I raised this with Iwaszko she told me that for her most recent work in the Misaligned Exhibition she created an installation titled ‘City of Colour: Jasper 2021’.  Her aim was to ‘celebrate and acknowledge the rich heritage of the area as well as look to the future’ and noted that ‘the work was a response to Stoke-on-Trent’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, I was inspired by the colours used to promote the bid and those of Wedgwood’s Jasperware (using colours of Jasper not many people are familiar with), creating a dialogue across colour, surface and time. The colours on the bid poster/cards are so strong and beautiful I couldn’t help but try to enhance and celebrate them. My paintings hopefully echo that hope for a bright future steeped with heritage. The S-O-T City of Culture 2021 bid is something I really want to get behind. I believe it is a great place to live, the people so friendly, warm and welcoming. Great geography both with in the country and underfoot. Totally amazing heritage which somehow has got a little lost along the way. So this feels like the right time to promote and celebrate the past and hope for the future, it’s picked up creatively over the past 10 years. My three daughters live here and I’d like them to stay in this vibrant upcoming city on the verge of a huge wave of excitement?’

Photo: Chloe Ashley

Photo: Chloe Ashley

 After seeing Iwaszko'ss work myself I personally think that the goals she set for herself and her work have been met wonderfully and the outcome is a refreshing take on our local heritage, twisting it with a more modern day idea has left us with an interesting and engaging installation that is aesthetically very pleasing; the mixture of the vibrant colours on the wall leading to a more dusty and pastel-like colour on the floor feels like a representation of this ‘old to new’ cycle that seems to rise from the thought of remembering our history but looking forward to our future.

“I am passionate about art both looking at it and making it, recent work has included a lot of site related work and this has been particularly enjoyable”

The main focus of Iwaszko's work is to ‘include energy and finesses within it’, it’s undisputable that you feel energy oozing through the nooks and crannies of this particular installation, using the vibrant palette and large scale display it’s hard not to feel anything but overwhelmed when viewing ‘City of Colour: Jasper 2021’, which makes it even more interesting to here that Iwaszco feels that she doesn’t have a particular style, and that her work ‘often changes according to the place or site’ she’s working from. For me this is something that really took me by surprise, seeing work so refined and accurate to its purpose usually comes from an artist who’s spent many years practicingjust one style that they have grown accustomed to; switching so frequently takes an exceedingly talented and intelligent practitioner who is open to ideas and new possibilities.

To get a better idea of the way that Iwaszko's mind works, I asked her of her main influences - Rothko, Innes, Freud, Saville and the YBA’s. ‘Rothko has influenced me by way of my large expanses of colour that touch you in some mysterious, maybe spiritual way, or, is it the colour itself that takes you to another place? Innes uses colour in a similar way yet it’s the purity and simplicity of colour that mesmerizes. I love to have quiet work that shouts about something.’ I was curious at this point why Iwaszko had used what I believed to be canvas as well as a floor installation, though I was quickly corrected – ‘Actually the 2D works in the exhibition are on board but do give the illusion of canvas. I suppose I was after a visual that looked traditional yet wanted them to mimic a large coloured chunk of Jasper clay, for me this was playing with the past, present and future’.

 Iwaszko is a part of a small group of artists who reside within The Airspace Gallery’s own studios, combining so many different discipline’s can often be challenging and often difficult to display fluently and having being involved in a group exhibition at university I was interested to see Iwaszko's views on working in such a diverse group.

“The AirSpace Studio artists are a great collection of artists to work with and the organisation of the exhibition went well. It’s the third time we’ve shown together and even if initially we don’t agree on everything somehow we manage to sort it and everyone, I hope, is happy. This isn’t always the case and I have had some not so pleasant experiences when setting up exhibitions!”

Personally I think that exhibitions are real learning curves. Being quite placid I found myself taking the back seat when it came to the arguments and disagreements, which isn’t always the best stance to take. Though at the time I felt it was that, or being dragged through the experience kicking, screaming and clawing the ground from under me. I told myself I probably wouldn’t ever want to cooperate in a group exhibition again so ultimately I was interested in knowing if Iwaszco would exhibit as a group again with this being the third with the same collection of artists, and unsurprisingly she said yes and I am very glad because it means we can continue to look forward to the extraordinary work from the Airspace Studio Artists.

Being such an experienced artist, it’s always great to hear if they have any advice for fellow artists pursing their dreams or looking at setting up an exhibition their self, and I know from my own personal experience and relationship with Iwaszco that she is very wise and has some of the most useful knowledge that has brought me through some very dark times in my own art – ‘Probably the best piece of advice I can give is to believe in yourself, there’ll be plenty of downs (making and exhibiting art is like a rollercoaster ride!), rejection after rejection. Stick with it and always try to pick yourself up and just carry on!’.

“I would like to think I touch or move the viewer or take them to another place. To think about their own lives and others?”