A Q&A with… Diana Burton

By November 7, 2016News

Omnibus are currently exhibiting work by Diana Burton, an artist who works with a unique material.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My love of Textiles and making in general came from my Mother, who taught me how to knit and stitch. I recently completed an MA in Textiles at Chelsea College of Arts. The course enabled me to get back in touch with making as an artist. It also expanded my knowledge of sustainability and instilled a responsibility to consider how we can place at the centre of our practice, an ethical and moral approach to producing as artists, designers and makers, so that we can make better choices about our consuming

Why did you choose umbrellas as material for your work?

I think umbrellas chose me! An uncanny encounter with a discarded broken umbrella evoked memories of lived experiences.  A deeply personal project emerged and I began to photograph discarded umbrellas where they lay. The urban site is like a graveyard for broken umbrellas. The detritus of material culture in general, can invade our sense of ‘all is well’ and evoke an element of dystopia. For me, discarded umbrellas represent a sense of ‘all is not well’ and are a metaphor for broken bodies and those who are discarded by society.  After photographing the found umbrellas, I collect and re purpose them into hybrid, bio-mechanical sculptural forms that aim to replicate the disturbing initial encounter.

What are the challenges of working with umbrellas?

One challenge is collecting a greater volume of umbrellas so that I can create sculptures on a larger scale. So it needs to rain much more! I enjoy the practical challenges of working with umbrellas. It has become quite a cathartic process, which enables my relationship to umbrellas to shift and evolve. Sometimes they can look foreboding and repulsive evoking trepidation and at times they are a thing of beauty with their enterprising mechanism and sculptural form.

What’s next for you as an artist?

I have just finished an MA and I am hoping for more opportunities to exhibit my work, so I am engrossed in collecting and making. I am also currently preparing a PHD proposal and looking for a position as artist in residence.

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