Hoskins (b. 1995) is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer from
Cumbria, now based in Liverpool. Her work is diaristic, frank and
funny, combining slapstick millennial nihilism with an immersion in the
rituals and details of everyday working life. OUTPUT is delighted to
welcome Ellie for her first solo presentation Everything! Is! Futile!
for which she is currently working in-situ in the gallery, creating an
installation of text works and sculpture around a family of
Hoskins’ work combines lineages of
contemporary art and culture - sad, lumpy figures reminiscent of Maria
Lassnig or Louise Bourgeois sip cans of lager, while inspirational
Instagram quotes are replaced by seedy confessions or suburban
The artist explains; “I
think what I’m mostly inspired by is content that comes from a very
human place, like proper gut-level feelings expressed successfully
enough to be gut-wrenching when communicated to someone else. And so
when it’s consumed you feel less alone”. Hoskins captures
moments of private absurdity with self-deprecating clarity, emphasising
their universality as she brings them out into the light.
search for communality led Hoskins to create and lead the one-year
unofficial online art school Phlegm, which culminated in an exhibition
at The Royal Standard in 2021. Other recent projects include a text
installation on the exterior of Bluecoat and Broken Little Things, a
collection of short text fragments for Montez Press.
Hoskins - Everything! Is Futile! will have a launch event
from 6pm -
8pm on Thursday, 21st July. The exhibition continues until August 7th.
|Q&A WITH ELLIE HOSKINS
came to Liverpool for University and have stayed on for five years
since graduating - what is it about the city that attracts you?
I wanted to choose somewhere relatively close to my girlfriend at the
time, but she ended up dumping me before I’d even started. So that was
fun. It’s mostly the people that I love here. I stayed for them, but
also because I didn’t want to go back to where I grew up, which is a
small factory town that would have made trying to be an artist or
writer much, much harder.
There is a
thread of consistency running through all of your work, despite the
range of disciplines and materials - a mixture of depressing jokes and
slow-motion slapstick tragedies. Has this always been the case?
I mean, it depends how far back you go. I think I started to find my
voice on my foundation year, but I took everything a lot more seriously
back then. There’s a meme I shared the other day, a pixelated drawing
of someone spewing, and the text reads “remembering when I was serious,
when I could have been silly”, and that’s me when I’m thinking about my
old work that took itself too seriously. I got more playful in uni, but
I think it’s only quite recently that the practice you describe was
properly solidified. I think I realised the world was depressing enough
without my sad, un-redemptive work. And so I forced myself to consider
how I could remain true to my feelings and emotions, whilst conveying
them in a way that offered something more than misery to the people I
mentioned Louise Bourgeois as an influence and lots of writers, but I’m
curious about the look of this exhibition, which seem to owe more to
non-art influences: animation, meme culture etc. Could you explain how
you landed on this aesthetic?
Yeah I love Louise’s aesthetic but that’s not the aspect that
influences me. It’s more her philosophy, her approach to making and
working through feelings. I also admire how she can work across so many
mediums and yet you could still stand in front of any of her works and
know it was made by her just based on her touch, her artistic voice. I
think when it comes to my own aesthetic, which I agree owes to meme
culture and animation, I’m just speaking in the language that I know.
And that I feel other people will enjoy. As much as I wish I could be
like, oh I make art for myself I don’t care about what anyone thinks
about it, it would be a lie. I make art because I feel like there’s
something I need to communicate, and so naturally I find myself
communicating via the most accessible channels I’ve encountered. I grew
up in a household and a town where high-brow, ‘fine’ art basically
didn’t exist. What did exist was television, and the internet.
Your work is
very rooted in the everyday, and it seems appropriate that many of
these sculptures were made in your kitchen. Do you prefer working at
home to using a studio, and if so, why?
Studio. I have absolutely and whole-heartedly hated making these
sculptures in my kitchen. Cos it’s also my living room. And sitting
looking at the mess and smelling the vinegary-floury paste that I used
to make the papier mache with made me want to scream on a daily basis.
But I haven’t felt able to justify renting a studio since graduating (I
decided I hated art and didn’t want to play anymore). Also, like, I
think I’m just greedy. If I have a studio it needs to be huge, because
I’ve watched youtube interviews with rich artists and now I don’t want
to settle for anything less than a warehouse. I just don’t enjoy making
small things. I release a lot of frustration when I’m making sculptures
and I need to use my whole body, not just my fingers. So yeah, if I’m
gonna commit to making more of them I’m gonna need some serious storage.
What is your
biggest fear, as an artist?
Everyone hating me and thinking my work is shit because it has like,
zero production value and doesn’t really ‘mean’ anything. I’m confident
that a lot of people feel this way. But I probably think their work is
too serious and boring, so yeah. Be reet.
text reads: 'WHAT AM I TRYING TO SAY? I'M TRYING TO SAY I'M TIRED! OF
THE HIDEOUS SHITNESS OF EVERYTHING! OF FEELING LIKE A LIFELESS LUMP OF
BEIGE SHIT! I WANNA FEEL UNHINGED! RADGE! I WANNA FEEL LIKE LANA DEL
REY WHEN SHE SAID I AM FUCKING CRAZY, BUT I AM FREE!'