Joshua Wilson is originally from Alexandria, but is now based in Glasgow after graduating with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee.
In his work, he explores the archival value of sites like Instagram, by inviting people to take the materials he has prepared – including hand-knitted blankets – chop, combine, and scan them, before pinning them to a collage board that he is regularly photographing and uploading online.
Perceptions of the arts within a wider cultural landscape? Well, this is actually something that I have been trying to understand for several years.
Ever since I have come to understand how important the context of an artwork is within a socio-political framework, I have tried to figure out where my own work is positioned and in what way my practice offers relevance. The arts have always been at the forefront of cultural revolutions, often driving change, inspiring progress and challenging the status quo, as well as being just another tool within the great machine of exponential growth.
Locally, art is about expression, regionally art is about history, nationally art is about identity and internationally art is about money.
Like a lot of young artists fresh out of art school. It was a struggle to find the time to be able to work on my art. Art can change the world if it can change just one mind but if nobody wants to pay for grand ideas then it isn’t going to keep the lights on, so I have work for ‘the man’. But that doesn’t mean that my mind isn’t still switched on. I believe that inspiration can be found anywhere. I’m never not thinking about how an idea, material or space can be reinterpreted. But generally, I don’t start by wanting to make some lofty statement on the human condition. I see something that inspires me and I’ll work on it. Often allegory and meaning can emerge.
I’m never trying to make a statement because I’ve found that unless you spell out your intention and kill any other interpretation that is just what’s going to happen. A lot of my work is autobiographical, so when I talk about my ideas, I am always confronted with the all-important issue of context. Who cares?
Once I made a piece that made mention of a past relationship, which was with another man and it got slapped with the very marketable label of ‘queer art’. It had nothing to do with queer issues and in fact was intentionally apolitical, but I didn’t take into account that someone else could have a political reading of it. And I guess that was the more valuable lesson for me as an artist. Not finding my own political insight but just understanding that it’s very easy to ‘trigger’ other people’s.
It’s generally well agreed that the arts play a vital role in culture, mental health and leisure yet consistently it is shown to be devalued, compared to other fields. It is seen as unessential and is treated as such in a crisis.
An Aghaidh na Stainge
The current situation is a very strange thing indeed. I was laid off from a job in hospitality that I absolutely hated with a passion. I was starting to think I should be an actor - my shit-eating grin was getting that good! But it took a global crisis for me to say “fuck it! I want to make art and so that is what I’m going to do”
Stability was a prison that simply evaporated. And I’m glad it gave me the kick that I had been sorely needing. So I have now got a studio and more importantly I’m around other artists - well at least two meters-away.