MAVERICK EXPO: FENTON AND SASCHA BAILEY
OCTOBER 4TH, 2016
We talk to Fenton and Sascha Bailey about their new exhibition looking at the female body at Maverick Expo.
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In an age where the establishment rule the roost and young artists are fighting for their work to be shown, we need projects like The Maverick Expo. The Maverick Expo is an international collective of artists, curators and galleries dedicated to featuring the work of emerging artists. Presenting an innovative and fun alternative to the usual commercial art fairs, The Maverick Expo introduces art enthusiasts, gallery owners and collectors to the art world’s next big creative minds.
Two of those creative minds are photographer Fenton and curator Sascha Bailey. Sons of photography icon David Bailey, Fenton and Sascha are making their mark on the art world, challenging conventions as to how exhibitions should be, and redefining views of the female body.
Fenton Bailey took his first steps into photography age 17. Falling in love with Polaroid and film photography, and the creation of physical prints, he specialises in very personal, soul-bearing images. For this exhibition, he presents a mix of old work and a glimpse into his new project, exploring the natural beauty of the female body and the way that light can change and add feeling to an image. The female form is overarching theme, as curator Sascha Bailey, co-founder of Quite Useless, met many artists with their own unique styles capturing the beauty of the female form, and brought their work together to create an exhibition that absorbs you into the artist’s life, feelings and emotions. It’s raw, honest and provocative, just as art should be.
We spoke to Fenton and Sascha Bailey about how they got started, why it’s important to support young artists and their upcoming exhibition at The Maverick Expo #3.
What was it about photography that drew you to it?
I first started taking an interest in photography when I started working for Bailey at the age of 17. I was only meant to stay there for six months but ended up staying there full time. Working at Baileys we would use a vast and diverse range of film, cameras and digital. My interest started with Polaroid. It was my new found interest in Polaroid and the combination of this new found passion and the passion of a first girlfriend. I particularly loved how Polaroid could make a one-off physical image something unique, making something of a moment. All the walls of my bedsit ended up being covered in Polaroid.
You hand print all your images – why do you think it’s important to go through this process and why do you like to use film?
I work in the darkroom at Baileys a lot, its a big part of what I do. I love to make a physical print and to have created something. After taking a picture, in the darkroom you make it an image. This process is where you are able to make decisions that will define and create the image. Also allowing a personal style of printing to be developed. It is not so much the film I like, most of the looks of a film can be copied with digital; it’s more about the cameras. Most digital cameras function in a similar manner, however with film there are lots of different cameras and formats, like 5/4 and the Rolleiflex to name a few. I use each camera. Differently, the subject will react differently, and the printing process in the darkroom will differ as well. Working with analogue, you can get random accidents, which can have very pleasing results. It is these differences, which draw me to film cameras.
Where do you find your muses and how do they inspire your creative process?
I think it is difficult to define what my muse is. Life and people in are what inspires me; this is forever changing, and so do my inspirations. I have photographed my girlfriend many times in recent years, but every time was discovering and capturing something new.
Your photography has a very personal tone – do you actively intend for this to come across or is it a result of your connection with your muse?
My pictures are very personal, its something I love to do, and I do it with the people I love. Its not just about getting the right lighting, you have to put a bit of yourself into it. I don’t just shoot people nude; I like to take portraits as well, which I will be showing more of in the upcoming show.
You’ve traveled extensively – how does travel inspire you and how do pictures you take while traveling differ from you’ve taken at home?
It doesn’t matter where I am, if it’s a new place or if it’s familiar. It’s the fact that I only shoot something that has captured my attention. You could be in a beautiful place and take a stunning picture, which would look like every one else’s typical traveling pic. I think for me its not about the location itself, but it is what and who you find in it that makes a picture more capturing, meaningful and personal.
You’ve assisted your father a lot – what have you learned from him and did he influence your choice to take up photography?
I’ve learned so much from working with Bailey almost all of the technical stuff but also that it is not just taking a perfectly lit photo but about making a great image. Capturing what’s there but also the emotion. Bailey has taught me to expect the unexpected and always look out for the accident. I guess Bailey has inspired me as I have always been surrounded by photography: by him shooting me, and also all the fantastic books and images from other photographers he has collected.
What are the main themes in your work shown at the exhibition? Can you tell us about the work you’re showing?
In this exhibition I will be showing work that explores the natural beauty of women’s body, the form and shapes that can be shown using shadows and just the body itself. I’ve tried to keep it simple using minimal lighting and no retouching. There are a few pieces from an older show I’ve done with Sascha and a small peak at the new project I’m working on.
What’s the idea behind “Quite Useless”?
The name is based on a quote from Oscar Wilde. I would interpret the meaning to tell us that art has no functional purpose and only truly exists to inspire and invoke a feeling whatever that may be negative or positive. The important thing is that it doesn’t leave you cold.
When did you decide to go into curation and what is it that interests you?
I think I never really decided to go into curating; rather it became a logical and inevitable step in my development as an art dealer and artist manager. I first became interested in the prospect of becoming involved in the arts at the age of 11 while at Frieze art fair. At the time my dad was photographing people of note who had attended, and I was interested in drawing Manga. I began to hang my drawings around our booth at the fair and put labels with prices. I made around £100 that day and for the first time in my life understood the abstract concept of an idea purely useless other than its intrinsic beauty or meaning could be sold or bought.
Tell us how this exhibition came about – where did the concept come from?
My first exhibition was entitled “Human Relations” which featured work by both Fenton and Mairi-Luise and explored the relationships around us, be they of friendship or romance. Over the years since this exhibition I have met many artists all with their own unique style for capturing the beauty of the feminine form, and so given the opportunity to show at this years Maverick Expo I just felt that this show would be a perfect fit as it has been a project that I have wanted to do for a very long time.
How did you bring the exhibition to life?
Immersion, it is my goal to totally absorb you into the artist’s life, feelings and reasons for creating the art in style, which they do. This is to provide the viewer with a true, honest and provocative narrative of the artist’s life and struggle.
How did you select the work that’s shown at the exhibition? Are there any over-arching themes or ideas?
For this exhibition, we are focusing on the beauty and power of the female form we have four artists all with very distinctive and unique styles and perspectives. Both from the male and female points of view.
Why do you feel it’s important to support up and coming artists?
It’s not only important, it is necessary. No high street galleries will take a risk on an artist that they don’t know for a fact sells. However, in the long run, this is there down fall, a company must produce an original product if they are to survive this is a constant truth of any industry. The sad state of affairs is that most galleries simply show the same artists like the one down the road there are a few exceptions to this rule as with all things. Aside from the cold business side I think that if no one provides a platform for new artist to help them to develop, we will see a big drop in creativity and people will only produce “Mcdonald’s art” quick easy to understand meaningless art.