It’s so great to see the Nous Vous lads continuing with their quest to bring a gentle spark of inspiration to the general public. Their latest venture is an exhibition in the enormous old factory-turned-cultural centre, The Tetley in Leeds. A Watery Line will exhibit “drawings, prints, paintings and objects, producing new artwork in on-site open studios and working with a selection of other artists to deliver a programme of performances and workshops.” Ahead of the opening of this exciting, friendly show, we asked Nicolas Burrows to tell us a little more about the planning of the exhibition and what they hope the public gets out of it.
Tell us about the title of the show
The title started as an anagram of “A New Reality,” which is the programme of exhibitions and projects that A Watery Line falls under. But it also fits in with what we’re thinking about with the show – the porous nature of the different elements of our collective practice and the overlapping of making, working and living.
What’s the most important thing you want people to get out of the exhibition?
We want the space to feel alive, exciting and active, and we want people to feel like they’ve actually been able to engage with lots of different things, over more than one visit. We want the space to feel a bit unpredictable, so people will hopefully want to come back later and see what’s new. We’re exploring and showing things in the gallery that aren’t necessarily “art” as well, like social events, workshops or music-making. Like a wonky art school.
You guys seem to be getting more and more joy out of using other mediums. What kind of things have you been experimenting with lately and has that shaped the show?
Yeah, I think definitely. We’ve always experimented and wanted to work in new ways – it’s nice being new to something because I think that’s when the most creative things happen – when you’re not an expert. So you might use a material in an unusual or incorrect way, but the result is really interesting.
You guys have been Nous Vous for ages now, getting more and more publicity. How do you feel your collective changed over the years?
Nous Vous wasn’t really formed in an official way. We just started working together. Now we’ve managed to make what we do into our living, which is great, but we still want to explore the experimental side to our practice, with shows like this one. We’re working on bigger commissions – hopefully we can continue to do that – and we’re more focused now because we’re all in the same studio again for the first time for about four years.
“Keep on doing what you enjoy. Don’t be afraid what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work.”
Why do you think it’s important to get young people or just members of the general public into “making”?
Personally we all find that making things makes us happy.It’s important to us try to show that this way of living and working is valid and interesting. Maybe it’s to do with our backgrounds, but it often feels like we’re pursuing a way of life that is culturally slightly “different” to the vast majority of people. We don’t revel in that. We’d like people to understand it and not be put off by something being inaccessible or incomprehensible. But a lot of people aren’t interested in “making’” anyway,which is fine – people shouldn’t be cajoled into doing something, it’s just important to show how it can be a really rewarding, do-able and positive thing.
Can you give some advice to someone who may not necessarily think of themselves as an artist but wants to start making work?
People are probably already making something interesting but maybe they don’t see it as art. You don’t need to be labelled an artist; there’s plenty of creativity in everyday life. Keep on doing what you enjoy. Don’t be afraid what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work…