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Converse Shortlist: Jess Flood-Paddock

The final entry for our Converse x Dazed interview series with emerging artists

For the final interview with the selected Converse/Dazed Emerging Artist Award entrants we talk to sculptor and installation artist Jess Flood-Paddock. Her thoroughly thought out and often-witty work uses cement and other building materials to give a roughly finished look that can feel edgy and unsettling at times. Not having had any formal training in fabricating using these materials, Flood-Paddock has picked up what she can when needed, through, as she describes, “awkward conversations in DIY shops”. “It can be tricky to admit you're not laying a patio but that you're ‘experimenting with cement,’” she explains wryly.

Dazed Digital: When did you first become interested in making art?
Jess Flood-Paddock: It was in New York when I was about 11, on a family trip. I saw Jeff Koons' chrome Rabbit. It was the first time I had seen contemporary [art]. I came home and filled an inflatable penguin with sand, trying to replicate the rabbit. It took hours, and it remains unfinished.

DD: Which artists inspire you?
Jess Flood-Paddock: My artist friends make a lot of extraordinary work; they are the people I listen to the most.  Looking at things on a wider level there are four or five artist object makers that I often go back to. Fischli and Weiss, Franz West, Robert Gober, Paul Thek and Isa Genzken.

DD: Do you have an artistic icon?
Jess Flood-Paddock: It is hard to choose but Louise Bourgeois feels appropriate for her commitment to contemporary art, well into her nineties.

DD: Is there an artistic background in your family?
Jess Flood-Paddock: My older brother made incredible drawings when we were very young and I always wanted to copy him. Now his work is much more Star Wars influenced, brilliant computer generated animations and huge drawings of imagined solar systems. Maybe he should have been my icon, he is really.

DD: What is your creative process behind making work?
Jess Flood-Paddock: I think it's hard to know when you're being creative and when you're just working, or whether that is the same thing. I'm working on a show at the moment that developed from the layout of Foyle's bookshop in Soho. I like the choice of departments placed next to each other; Anthropology next to Photography next to Timber Castles. In this adjacency of subject areas there is a connection and disconnection, that I find produces lots of starting points.

DD: Can you explain the ideas behind the work that you submitted to the competition?
Jess Flood-Paddock: Sacrifice is a full sized replica of an Aztec statue. It's a rough approximation, a blocked out form with blurred photographic prints and paint. I made the work for a gallery that had a low ceiling. To fit the space I wanted the sculpture to appear like it was split crudely in half. The aim was to suggest the sacrifice of an artworks essence for the sake of practicality.

DD: What made you enter the competition?
Jess Flood-Paddock: It's an interesting combination, the glamour of Dazed and the underground of emerging artists. The choice of judges was also of the highest standard, which makes the competition a serious undertaking a really good thing to try to be involved in.

The winner of the Converse/Dazed Emerging Artist Award will be announced next Thursday 22nd July