Beth Rowland is a multi-media artist from Stoke-on-Trent who works in illustration, film and photography. Her work is concerned with the tragedies and comedies of every day life.
Q1. Your practice encompasses illustration, film and fine art photography – I wondered how this diversity came about and whether you developed this after your left your degree in Fashion Photography at the London College of Fashion in 2012?
I was always interested in working more diversely but I had a bit of a lack of confidence with it. Then by the time I finished University I was really exasperated with how prescriptive the course was and because it really wasn’t right for me I felt like I was always getting it wrong anyway, so I was just desperate to get on with doing something else and for it to be as far away from fashion as possible. By then I’d just come back to Stoke had no job or money, so not much to do, I used to go to my Nana and Granddad’s house all the time in the week and I started doing some bits of drawings based on all that. Then I bought a Dictaphone and did some basic animations with recordings, and then I thought I’d have a go at some script writing and from that, film making. My style of working now is just of having a go at stuff and a lot of guess work and if it’s a disaster, just binning it and doing another. It’s really important to try not to beat yourself up to much.
Q2. What motivates and inspires your work?
I think it’s just instinctive really, I always need to be working on something or I get uptight and frustrated; it just feels like the natural thing for me to be doing. The best I’ve ever heard it explained it is in this film about my favourite illustrator, Tomi Ungerer, called ‘Far Out Isn’t Far Enough’. He says when he draws it’s a real need; like when you have to go to the toilet, it has to come out. I’m inspired by loads of stuff: people; how they talk, how they stand, where they’ve been, what they might be thinking, why they might be thinking it, I’m so nosy! I’m interested in everyone and I like stories.
Q3. You launched your production company Chinwag Films with Laura Tombs earlier this year and you recently shot the video for Moscow’s ‘Pack Animals’ single at Bankley. How did the concept for the video come about?
Around Christmas me and Laura were talking about how we wanted do a music video and wondering who we knew who might want one. I’ve known the singer, Nic for ages and was vaguely aware he had a band, so we had a listen to Moscow and I felt like I knew how it should look straight away. I always felt it should be dystopian and clinical, the doctors and the experiments actually came about because I had a broken tooth which I was avoiding going the dentist for (I hate them because of all the poking about in your mouth!) then that led to Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. Also Moscow were great to work with, they let us have pretty much free reign with the concept and put so much faith in us from the off, knowing you have that support gives you the confidence to try things and really get the best out of an idea. And it was our amazing crew who made the mechanics of it work, with film you can have the best concept ever but without a good crew you’ve got nothing, it’s all collaboration.
Q4. What’s next for Chinwag?
We’ve just pitched for this amazing project but I don’t know if we’ve got it yet so I can’t tell you even though I AM DYING TO!! Then we’re filming the first script that we started off with in the summer, which will be amazing and surreal. It’s been something we’ve been discussing for nearly a year now and I’ll be seeing some real life people read for it next week, which is so exciting I can’t get over it. Then also we’ve got some short monologues which I’d like to illustrate and a longer script we’re working on with my sister Liv and hopefully some more music videos. We’ll have a go at anything we can get our hands on really!