Artists Rob and Nick Carter

Rob and Nick Carter, founders of RN at 5A, have been working together as contemporary artists for the last twenty years in London. We catch up with them about their favourite piece of art, their upcoming projects, how they get their inspiration and their favourite thing about Connaught Village…

1) When did you first realise that you could collaborate together?

The first artworks we created together were made in our dark room one sunny afternoon in 1998. We were stuck in the dark room creating abstract images with light on photographic paper. Once the images were processed Nicky applied paint to the prints. That evening a friend of ours Billy Brannigan came over for tea and bought our first three unique works, RN 1, 2 and 3 whilst they were still wet.

2) Individually, which is your favourite piece that you have created?

For both of us our favourite works are from our Transforming series. The series was initially informed by the knowledge that museum visitors, on average look at a painting for a mere 5 seconds. In an attempt to inspire visitors to look for longer it became our ambition to create a body of work that rewarded viewers for the extra time spent looking, through the introduction of new and interesting elements. We want to slow the viewer down, draw them in, and make them re-examine the work.

The series consits of 12 slow moving, looped films, which take Old Master works as their starting point. At one point each film resembles the original painting, drawing or photograph it is based on.

For me (Nicky) my favourite artwork is the first work from this series, Transforming Still Life Painting, after Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573 – 1621) and for me (Rob) my favourite piece is Transforming Landscape Painting after John Constable (1776-1837). In both works every aspect of the paintings have been brought to life and the seamless loops take the painting scenes from dawn to dusk. In Transforming Still Life Painting each flower has been informed by actual time-lapse footage of real flowers throughout the course of the day, making subtle shifts in bloom and direction as they turn to face the sun. Every few minutes the still life displays real-time activity, such as a caterpillar eating leaves. In Transforming Landscape Painting the landscape displays subtle shifts in colour and light as the clouds pass by, the sun moves in the sky and the stars and the moon emerge. Each blade of corn, each leaf on a tree and each ripple in the water has been informed by actual real time footage. It has been brought to life with over 7000 man- hours of digital animation.

3) Are you often critical of one another’s art?

By working together we are constantly bouncing ideas off each other meaning our ideas are continually being refined. This feels like a very instinctive process for us so any critique or evaluations are integral to the progression of our artworks or concepts.

4) What is your favourite piece of art and do you remember when you first fell in love with it?

My (Rob) favourite artworks are those of James Turrell. I am fascinated by his use of light as a medium and how it manipulates space. I hadn’t seen one of his light works until 2010 at Gagosian Gallery, London. My favourite (Nicky) artworks are Yves Klein’s Blue paintings. I love the unusual appearance of depth and texture.

5) What do you enjoy most about having a gallery in Connaught Village?

Some artists wouldn’t like inviting people into their creatie space but we really enjoy studio visits and creating a platform for our work to be discussed. Our exhibition space, RN at 5A, also allows us to show works that may not have been exhibited before.

6) Can you tell us about any new or upcoming projects that you are most excited about?

We have a couple of projects that we are very excited to be working on. We are currently keeping these under wraps but can share that the works explore the process of painting. We will have more exciting shows at RN at 5A in 2019 and hope this will include an exhibition with works from our Light Painting series’.

7) Do you have any hobbies aside from art?

Yoga is such an important part of Nicky’s life so much so that became the source of inspiration for our Yoga Photogram series. The series began with the desire to create a series with the figure as the subject on the last reams of our photographic paper, Cibachrome.

When initially doing camera-less tests we became fascinated by the un-exposed areas of paper where contact had been made and we could pick out details such as a profile. This led us onto a series where contact was the main focus. With Nicky’s practice of Yoga, Yoga asanas became the perfect source of positions to experiement making direct contact onto the paper.

The completed series of Yoga Photograms have all been made in complete darkness by lying nude in a Yoga position directly onto a large piece of photographic paper. This process is a pure as photography can be, made by a single flash of light onto light sensitive paper. Each work is unique and although photographic there is no camera, lens or negative used in the making of the work. They are all life size.

8) Where do you get your inspiration from for your art?

The inspiration for our work derives from examining the boundaries between the real and the imagined, the analogue and the digital and the traditional and the contemporary. We enjoy studying historical processes and themes and making these subjects relevant to present day.

9) How do you think technology is changing the way in which art is created and viewed?

We feel strongly that technology and its relationship to art is something that should be embraced. It is creating new opportunities for creativity, enabling museums to engage with a wider audience and make artworks more accessible to a younger generation.

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