The One Where We Wonder What Friends Did

Oliver Braid1

Autumn 2015 saw the abstract sculpture of Oliver Braid fill Wasps’ Hanson Studios. As Braid’s show, The One Where We Wonder What Friends Did, drew to a close he explained the inspiration behind it.

He said: “As a project this new sculpture was inspired by relationships in late 20th century culture; collaborative and curatorial practices across early 21st century culture; as well as distortion and medieval mereological thought.

He added: “As an object the sculpture was developed with two questions in mind; what is the use of artistic embroidery atop philosophical carpentry; and what is the relationship between use and not-use?”

Braid’s exhibition uses papier-mache, embroidery, architecture, optical illusions, and semiotic art; encompassed in sculpture. His work forms a hut, the outside of which is covered salmon coloured foam, and adorned with the bust of Margaret Beaufort.

On the side of the hut is a peep -hole, through which the viewer can see a reimagining of the Friend’s set for Monica’s apartment. It has a checked floor, purple wall, sculptures, and gold -framed impressions of other artists’ work.

Braid explained: “Inside the room you can take a closer look at the display of five objects, which I made based on existent artworks produced by friends of mine. Over the past fifteen years these friends have influenced my own thinking about art.”

 He continued: “When someone moves into this room space and walks across it they grow in size, and it becomes clear the space and the objects have been distorted to create an optical illusion.”

 The challenging of perspective is central to Braid’s work ethos; as he explained: “Throughout my work I wish to maintain a critical perspective on local and global contemporary art.”

He added: “By the time I am designing a work it’s sort of chosen itself, there doesn’t appear to be any other way to respond to the world at that time.”

Braid explained that he was first drawn to art at the age of thirteen, upon seeing the exhibition Sensation (in 1997). He then went on to study at the Falmouth College of Arts, before Glasgow School of Art.

Now an established artist, Braid lives in the Glasgow and works from Wasps Hanson Studios. He uses the studios to develop a cultural space he calls Phew.

He said: “The exhibition that I have at Wasps right now is also an off-site project for Phew’s first season Tell Me Less & Tell Me More, which explores practice of over-relating and withdrawing.”

Withdrawal from expectation is a method Braid uses to avoid cliché; as he explained he no longer courts exhibition opportunities or popular approval.

Braid briefed: “I’m bored of the arts trying to persuade people to come to something, it seems self-defeating all this begging. My vibe is like, I’m doing this thing that I am focused on and that I believe in and think is valuable.

“In an ideal world art will be allowed to become as hermetic as science, and also be given equal respect.” 

Looking to the future, Braid is developing the first season of Phew (running September 2015 until March 2016).

He will also bring a solo exhibition to Vane, Newcastle, in January 2016.