Next Models buck the trend, shining the spotlight on four models with extracurricular talents.
Click images to enlarge.
Some of our favourite artists started out as models – like petroleum-jelly-and-monster-obsessed Matthew Barney in New York and lo-fi minimalist Lydia Gifford in London – so we’re excited about Next Models’ show of four of their top artist-slash-model talents. Polly Brown, Harry Gilliam, Tali Lennox and Mark Waddleton are all exhibiting works in Identity at London’s Whisper Gallery, July. i-D online walked down Old St to Next, and caught up with Polly and Tali for a chat…
So what are you showing?
Tali (pictured bottom above portrait: I’m doing a mixture of things, mostly based on portraiture, different portraits… So it explores things like misplaced culture and forgotten identities, and personally when it’s my self-portraits it’s more about confusion. It’s based in fashion, and the fact that modelling is supposed to reflect how I feel, the overwhelming feeling when you’re in an industry which is exciting and different but also confusing. I can become confused in identity, so the self portraits are very distorted, not what you really expect. I think it’s supposed to try and say what I actually learned through this job – that’s it’s nothing about exteriors, it’s more about interiors.
Polly (pictured top above plants): I’m showing a series of twelve images. It’s a selection from an ongoing, much larger project where I photograph the office plants of major brands and companies, and they’re kind of similar to yours Tali, because they’re portraits but they’re portraits of a kind of organic element within a corporation. I wanted to do this because the title of the show is Identity and the pictures of the plants are just on their own with a small text which states the company they come from, so the plant then becomes the motif of the identity of the company… I’m usually looking at our relationship with nature, but more our attempts to place nature back into a man-made environment that we’re living in now. Also as I’ve been doing it I’ve started to look at the connections between the plants, like organic networks and systems, and how they relate to big business and globalised corporations. I found this kind of dichotomy between saying that we’ve moved away from nature, but still using the same systems to what we buy and use every day.
Ok. What’s your favourite plant?
Polly: My favourite plant… I really like Terranium – which is quite strange – and the cactus is always good.
Someone bought me a cactus the other day.
Polly: Really what kind?
I’m not sure, but do I never need to water it?
Polly: No, you do, but not as much as regular plants… 90% of office plants die of overwatering, so you have to be careful with that!
Tali: Do you think it’s true that when you play heavy metal the plants die? At my school they put on classical music and the plants grew, and with heavy metal the plants died a lot quicker because they’re sensitive to it.
Wow. Which office had the best plants?
Polly: I don’t know, it varies from very, very over-the-top office plants, where people spend a lot of money employing companies to build these kinds of environments, and then other ones where people choose personal plants for their desks. I don’t think I can choose a favourite but I liked Vivienne Westwood because they had their own gardener, which I thought was pretty cool.
Tali: She’s a big environmentalist.
Polly: Yup, and she’s got her own garden, on the roof outside her office.
So why is the show called Identity?
Polly: We all sat down and spoke about what our work, and our practice and what ideas we were interested in. They were all really diverse so I think the idea was to take a broad topic under which we could all go in a different direction, so it’s kind of an umbrella.
Tali: I think it’s also because models often have that frustration of not being taken very seriously. People just think, ‘Oh modelling is very shallow and they make money through exteriors.’ So the theme of identity sort of puts an ironic twist on it, because it’s showing who we are through the exhibition, showing more layers of what our job actually is.
Identity is open at at Whisper Gallery, 27/28 Eastcastle St until 6 July.
Text Dean Kissick
Portrait photography: Rory DCS