Tinsel Edwards Pokes Fun at the Art World

The painter and founder of the Pushing Pussy label.

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Goldsmiths graduate Tinsel Edwards talks to Dazed Digital about Banksy buying her work and her music label, Pushing Pussy.

DD: So...Tinsel?
TE: Its my fairy name. I used to be in a band called The Fairies with Twinkle, Tinky and Sparkle, and we used to wear fairy wings all the time, and give people wish tokens.

DD:Whats happened to The Fairies now?
TE: The wings are invisible at the moment but we still promote the fairy beliefs and hand out wish vouchers. The band stopped about a year ago, we're having a bit of a break, but I'm sure we'll do something again soon. We launched Pushing Pussy which is a label to promote female musicians and DJs.

DD: Lots of your work pokes fun at the artworld, like your “Do It Yourself” Damien Hirst kit-have you ever had any negative reaction to your work from colleagues?
TE: When I first started sending my work out I wasn't getting much response from galleries, but that just inspired me to do it myself – to find venues to exhibit in, curate group shows and collaborate with other artists rather than relying on curators and gallery owners to do it for me.

I tried to give Damien Hirst one of those kits, when Banksy asked me to be in his Santa's Ghetto show, I thought I'd give him one to say thankyou and asked him to show it to Damien,who's a friend of his, but I don't know if he ever did. If Damien did see it I think he would have liked it; the DIY kits are a positive message; people might go around an exhibition and think ‘I could’ve done that’, the kits kind of say, you can.

DD: And Banksy?
TE: Still a mystery; I never actually met him-I literally heard about that show 3 days before it opened. I got an email saying we've found a venue on oxford street for this years Santa's Ghetto. They'd picked out pieces they wanted to show from the website and asked if they were available and I was like; 'God yes!'. It was a really exciting show, full of street art and packed with people coming in off the street.

DD: So would you describe that as the highlight of your career so far?
TE: I suppose that, and Banksy buying my work, back in 2006.Twinkle and I put on a show at the Rhythm Factory and on the opening night of the show I got a text from Banksy's agent saying “Banksy wants to buy your Shoreditch painting”. The painting is of Shoreditch bridge, with 'Shoreditch' written across it in the Hollywood font, cos I'd read somewhere that Shoreditch is the new Hollywood. I think he might of liked it because I'd drawn in a bit of his graffiti over the bridge. Its also been great appearing on the Stella Dore website – the gallery has a really exciting selection of artists, and Steph who set it up has been really supportive. Another massive career highlight for me is the time I spent living and working in Berlin last year, the change from London really helped me focus on my work. Berlin is such a creative city and the art scene is really vibrant.

DD: What would you change about the British art scene?
TE: I actually think the British art scene is really exciting at the moment, especially with the whole street art explosion in the last couple of years. Its amazing to be alive at this time with artists going out there, being political, saying stuff they believe in and leaving it on the streets for people to enjoy and think about.  There are still aspects of it which seem old fashioned though, it can be elitist, exclusive and place to much emphasis on academia.
As much as I want my work to be provocative and challenge certain things about the artworld, it is also a tribute to it. Its evolved into an observation of the British public response to art too, there's sometimes a narrow mindedness or perhaps a fear of the supposedly exclusive nature of art.I hope that my work encourages a little open mindedness, and of course that DIY thing again!  

DD: So things are better now?
TE: Definitely getting there. I feel my work is developing into something more political now, the piece I'm working on is about the price of housing in London-based on personal experience-I've just found a house but it was really hard, everything is so expensive and I couldn't see why. So I'm painting lots of shoeboxes, with some text asking “why does it cost so much to live in a shoe box?” So I guess my work is becoming less art world focused, but more about general issues and still about the artist's struggle to make a living without being condemned for selling out.  

DD: And your plans for the future?
TE: In the immediate future I really need to get a proper website set up,so I have to get that sorted out, do some more work for Stelladore; we're meant to be having a group show in December, so I want to do some really good new work for that. Twinkle and I have been talking about organising a Pushing Pussy art show with all female artists too.

The next Pushing Pussy night is on at Vibe bar on 21st October at 9pm, for details go to http://www.myspace.com/pushingpussyrecords, and to see more of Tinsel's work go to http://www.myspace.com/misstinseledwards or http://www.stelladore.com/.
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