Philippa Kuligowski: Absolut Originality Commission Winner

The Glasgow-based artist goes home with this year's blue ribbon for her film, Darn that Blue: blue being the theme for this year's competition.

Tell us about Darn that Blue, how did you arrive at the concept?

The initial response to the brief was quite basic – just as a starting point I listed everything I associated with the colour blue and there spawned this notion that blue actually circulates amongst much of our collective and subjective experience. The work became almost homage to the colour blue, particularly in relation to Britain where I tried to create a sense of fragmented or distorted nostalgia through domestic sounds, illusionistic imagery and found footage.

How did you make the film? What was the process?

My approach to filmmaking begins with a hand drawn storyboard although it’s normally a feat if I ever stick to it. I prefer to collect all my footage, photographs and audio recordings beforehand so I can begin deconstructing and reconstructing them cumulatively in Adobe After Effects. But I worked quite instinctually on this project, with a lot of ideas coming later on so there was constant reworking and reordering of each scene right up until the very end.

You seem to muddle the lines between fine art and film, was this an organic progression?

Yeah, I’d say I was trying to create something that is just as cinematic as it is experimental art. I use the amalgamation of these as a way of showing clear indication of the artist’s hand by the gradual breakdown of the layers to expose the more makeshift secrets of its making. Although I have found that the very nature of cinematic film to be more inclusive to its audience, the manipulation of imagery to confuse or complicate the process of perception are important properties in the work and this lends itself to distorting the reality of what could be perceived as art and what could be perceived as film.

Why do you choose to work across such a wide variety of mediums?

I find my practice to be more successful when the subject matter dictates the medium. It’s important not to be too prophetic when approaching a new project because there can be a capacity for me to get caught up in what I envisage the piece to look like in spite of how the development of the work has motivated something entirely different. So I have learnt not to be too precious about where I end up going. I do however feel I may always think of myself as a painter. I confront my practice from a painterly perspective so maybe it’s painting that comes most naturally, it’s hard to say.

What artists inspire your work?

Bill Viola and Sam Taylor-Wood’s slow motion films with their allusion to traditional oil painting communicate the tensions I am trying to explore in my own film practice. Surrealist filmmakers were a starting point for my first films and I am still drawn to artists working with fantasy and illusion across a range of media – David Lynch, Peter Campus, Berndnaut Smilde and John Stezaker.

How important are initiatives like the Absolut Originality Commission for emerging artists in the UK? How did it feel to win?

I think it’s really hard to get a leg up in the art world. The opportunities that Absolut and other initiatives can offer is exactly what young, emerging artists need to move forward so I was ecstatic when I was told I had won. It’s an exciting thought to be involved in something so high profile and with a space to produce more work, hopefully things will keep happening!

What's the plan now?

The plan is to look into trying out some collaborative work. There is a theatrical side to my films; they are almost performance based so getting in touch with theatre, performance artists and musicians are my intentions at the moment. I’m based in Glasgow which is a dynamic city to be a part of and it will open doors to work with some creative people.