• Top

    Sadie Hennessey: Beyond the Pleasure Beach (detail)

Behind The Scenes

We interview Miriam Elia about new show Pastiche, Parody & Piracy

Posted by Maisie Skidmore,

Opening tomorrow, the Cob Gallery’s new exhibition explores Pastiche, Parody and Piracy in British artwork, exploring the age-old practice of appropriation as a means to explore new ideas. The exhibition has been put together by curator Camilla Ellingsen Webster, satirical cartoonist Jeremy Banx and artist Miriam Elia, partly in response to threats of legal action against Miriam following the realease of her most recent work We Go to the Gallery.

We interviewed Miriam about the reasons for putting the show on, and the importance of appropriation in contemporary art. Read on below!

  • 3

    Hattie Stewart: Gentlewoman Vivienne

What made you decide to put on this exhibition?

This exhibition was conceived as reaction to accusations by Ladybird Books (or Penguin, who owns them) against my latest artwork We Go to the Gallery. It raises questions about the power of corporations and “brand protection” over independent artists, particularly satirists. In the US and most of Europe artists are protected by an amendment in copyright law, which unfortunately has not been passed in Britain, despite the fact that it was supposed to come into effect on 1 June.

I decided to put on this exhibition to proudly show the huge diversity in appropriation as an art form in Britain. Fine artists, print makers and cartoonists have all put forward work to demonstrate how important it is that the law change. 

Why is it so important?

It’s important because the ability to cut, satirise or re-contextualise the modern world is crucial to making art. Artists should not have to deal with companies threatening to destroy their work. Most artists cannot afford the huge legal bills that these companies can, and this factor alone silences them into submission. I do not want to live in a world where I am constantly lead to consume “brands” but I am forbidden to respond to them. 

What do you consider the role of appropriation to be in art?

I think it’s a crucial means of understanding the world we currently live in. I also think there is a huge difference between copyright infringement, which is copying something, not changing it at all, passing it off as your own and selling it back to the same audience, and then copying something, contextualising it to create an entirely different message, and giving it to a completely different audience. Art relies on our freedom and ability to play with the world around us. Brands think they own more than a logo and a typeface nowadays – they seem to think they own an entire value system. 

Why do you think ideas about appropriation in art are so divisive when the notion has been around for centuries?

It varies from person to person, there are always arguments for and against, but I think in a free society one should be able to artistically subvert or satirise anything at all, without fear of a court case.

You mention a new law that you’re hoping will be passed by the government. Can you tell us a bit about it? What will this law mean for artists?

The UK Copyright law amendment, if passed, will allow an exception for “Parody, Pastiche and Satire” under the Fair Use guidelines. It was supposed to be passed on 1 June but it has been delayed again, possibly until October. This law will not only affect satirical artists, but also comedians and comedy writers. It basically means you will be allowed to subvert and parody any target without permission from the copyright holders. 

What’s your favourite example of appropriation in the exhibition?

It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I’m a huge fan of Sadie Hennessey’s work. Her End of the Pier seaside postcards are dark and funny. I also love Neil Fox’s Disney Massacre. 

  • 1

    Miriam Elia: We Go to the Gallery

  • 5

    Mike Turner: Copyright God

  • 7

    Peter Kennard: Haywain with Cruise Missiles

  • 8

    Sadie Hennessey: Beyond the Pleasure Beach

  • 11

    Chris Madden: After Magritte

  • 9

    Neal Fox: Sangre de los Pervertidos

Ms-300

Posted by Maisie Skidmore

Assistant Editor Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 and has stayed with us ever since. She has a particular interest in art, fashion and photography and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast. She also oversees our London listings guide This At There.

Most Recent: Behind The Scenes View Archive

  1. List

    There are equal doses of pleasure and frustration to be had in stumbling across the work of a photographer you’ve never seen before. It’s classic FOMO on a macro scale, coupled with joy at the prospect of showing off the treasure you’ve found. At least that’s what I felt when I discovered that photographer Mark Neville was to be showing two of his photo-series alongside one another in a new show entitled London/Pittsburgh at London’s Alan Cristea Gallery.

  2. List-flyers-for-the-institute-at-sexology.-photography-by-russell-dornan_-design-by-liam-relph-(3)

    London’s Wellcome Collection space always hosts explorations of the things that fascinate us most. It’s covered death, it’s exhaustively explored the human body in all its glory and grotesquery, and now it’s moved on to surely the most fascinating of all – sex, or more precisely, how people have studied it.

  3. List

    How’s this for a collaboration? Artist Quentin Jones, who counts photography, animation, painting and filmmaking among the tools of her trade, has teamed up with spatial designer Robert Storey to create the setting for her new exhibition in the The Vinyl Factory Space on London’s Brewer Street, with Robert creating a set for each of Quentin’s works.

  4. List

    There’s a real appetite here on the internet for old black and white photos being presented in colour, but in the main they tend to focus on historic or social themes. It’s less common to see sports photography undergoing this treatment, which is why we were so struck by the work of Gooner Frog when we came across it on Facebook.

  5. List-2

    Marrying a playful typographic approach, sensitive illustrations and deliciously tactile gold foil, the cover of The Recorder is a great indication of its contents: a beautifully designed ode to typography and its omnipresence.

  6. Main

    Music publishing is in a strange place. There are certain places we go to get our fix: Dazed, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME, ’SUP and FACT to name but a few, but the atmosphere of the industry feels slightly scattered. Do people still want their music news in printed form when the internet will always get there first? We were curious to speak to Hanna Hanra who is the editor of BEAT magazine, on how she started, why the hell she’s doing it, and what the publication aims to do. I asked Hanna who the magazine was aimed at and she answered: “Well, myself, primarily.” Here she is…

  7. 4list.-charles-jourdan_-spring-1976-%c2%a9-guy-bourdin

    In the summer of 1979, several legs boarded a ferry travelling from Dieppe to Plymouth. However unlike most other legs making the journey, these didn’t have any feeling in their toes.

  8. Main

    No magazine gets snapped up and devoured like Apartamento when it arrives into the It’s Nice That studio – there’s something about its size, understated beauty and incomparable wit that makes it irresistable. It states that it’s an “everyday life interiors magazine,” but it’s so much more than that, providing in-depth interviews with some of the coolest people who walk on this earth, with snooping photographs of their dwellings to boot. Now on its 14th edition, I wanted to ask Omar Sosa, the magazine’s much-loved founder, a little about this issue, those in the past, and where Apartamento is headed.

  9. Main1

    Embarrassingly, I only recently realised the magic and majesty of The Paris Review. I came across it when a recent issue was illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Chris Ware. Eager to see who was responsible for this decision, I tracked down their art editor and came across Charlotte Strick. Charlotte is a fantastic, intelligent book jacket designer who is utterly seeped in the work that she makes, so much so that she writes about design almost as much as she practices it. I was keen to speak to Charlotte about what she did and what got her there, but I wasn’t prepared for the level of detail she was to go in. – she gives a truly spectacular interview. Here she is…

  10. List

    It’s a well-established fact that even the most conceptually exciting product designs can fall flat on their face if they’re photographed poorly. Imagery can often make or break these projects. And while of course this isn’t the be-all and end-all, it’s worth taking this part of the process seriously to maximise the chances of your work cutting through the noise.

  11. List

    A couple of weeks ago, Channel 4 aired a documentary (below) which saw photographer Giles Duley (himself a triple amputee) meet some of the disabled victims of the war in Syria. It was a difficult watch but an extremely important story to tell, and one that meant a lot to Giles. He got in touch to say that although The Guardian ran an in-depth piece on the same theme, he had some photographs which weren’t used that he was really keen to get out there.

  12. List

    Lawrence Zeegen has never been one to mince his words. The illustrator, writer and dean of design at London College of Communication has recently launched his new book Fifty Years Of Illustration which he co-wrote with Grafik editor Caroline Roberts. It’s an impressively ambitious undertaking with the duo condensing five decades into 1,000 images by 240 illustrators from 30 countries. Lawrence admits it’s a “pretty personal selection” but one that aims to “represent the movers and shakers across each decade according to the work I believe was instrumental in shaping the discipline.”

  13. List

    In December last year we received a zine in the post from Yorkshire-based photographer Christopher Nunn that documented a small selection of images he’d gathered in Ukraine. Kalush offered a unique perspective on a region that was thrust suddenly and violently into the public consciousness, showing us the quiet, everyday side of a place that – from television coverage at least – you’d have been forgiven for assuming was razed to the ground.