Pandora’s 7 Secrets to Creative Harmony

I became intrigued by Pandora’s work after seeing her embroidering while at a conference! Her work is richly diverse and a great example of how an artist can develop their practice over time and by using different materials for expression and collaborating.

I wanted to interview her to find out a bit more about her process as inspiration for my new project collaboration, as well as inspire those of you interested in diversifying and expanding how you make work in the new economy. What Pandora has managed to do is combine a quality of life as a thinking, ideas based artist who makes work that generates an income. She continues to explore her fascination with dark and difficult issues and this manifests as evocative embroideries, sculptures and works on paper.

Pandora Vaughan was born in London 1970 and is a UK/Canadian artist combining a studio art practice with public commissions and landscape design. Her work is focused on spatial experience and social history, often with themes of imposed confinement. Trained in metalwork and painting, she flips between two dimensional and three dimensional regularly. She is particularly interested in the social significance attached to different media and will use whatever suits a project.

Pandora studied in Nova Scotia and London, gaining a BA in Fine Art, MA Art in Architecture and MA Landscape Architecture. She regularly exhibits in the UK and has built installations extending from Snowdonia to Devon. For the past ten years she has also collaborated with the Welsh architect Huw Meredydd Owen under the name V&O – working across an area encompassing art and architecture, buildings and landscape, ideas and action, and between the community and its potential.

Where do you seek your inspiration?

– looking at crumbled abandoned places

– standing in the woods

– painting exhibitions

– flicking through sculpture books

Nova Scotian architecture

– in conversation with Huw when we are melding our thoughts on a project and something starts to make sense

What really excites you and gets your ideas flowing at the moment?

– Two different strands really.

The first is re-inventing a space which is neglected and how to bring other people into a community project around that which is not patronising but fun. I’m working with Huw and Ellis Williams Architects on the design for a sailing centre in Pwllheli right now. The site is a rough industrial seascape with lovely dunes, lousy soil and too much parking. Our (Huw & I) task is to help create a sustainable and interesting landscape and to involve the local community in a creative way, the challenge is very exciting and the attitude towards inventiveness on this project makes a nice change.

The second thing is a much more personal, visual art related pre-occupation which is the notion of how to interpret beauty and creative expression which is confined or hidden by our inhibitions or fears. I’m looking at this in a sculptural way now after trying with two dimensions for awhile.

Do you still use paper sketchbooks and notebooks? 

– yes, lots. For sketches of ideas and lists of all the things I want to make something out of and why. Also for scanning and adding to proposals. It is much more immediate than opening a program, typing and trying to draw freely with a trackpad badly. I do use ‘notes’ on my phone though, for ideas which catch me without a book. I love looking at old sketch books and finding a beautiful sketch of an idea, it reminds me that I had one, or that some things have stayed with me for 20 yrs and not yet found a form.

Why does MyIdeasBook help the development of your work?

– particularly the storage of images and being able to come back to them and see the connections between them and evaluate why they mean something to me or what they have in common. Then the categorisation of them. It is comforting to know that this method of sorting out inspiration is a creative tool that others use also and not a flattener of ideas.

How has the internet changed the way you work? Has it opened possibilities and how do you embrace these?

– exposure to other projects and exhibitions which I would not have heard about or sought out mainly. I don’t use social media very much because I don’t have time and I want to be in contact with the world physically as much as possible. I am on an un-manageable number of mailing lists so I do a lot of deleting and rarely visit even the interesting ones. The whole system is just too overwhelming. No one has that much free time.

Do you intend to use the internet to market and sell your work?

– most of my work is project based and there are several places where opportunities are posted so I do use those. In terms of saleable work, no. Past experience has had people find old work online, want to purchase it only to have to tell them its long gone, or else scams from fake buyers. I welcome enquiries but I don’t have a place set up for selling individual works. I might like to have a website of my own for doing that rather than relying on management by others.

Why did you choose to use MyIdeasBook?

– I think it is really helpful. Its a place separate from my laptop storage system which I have to seek out when I am in the mood and I make it a part of my studio practice to review it and add things and see a continuum. I also wanted to help Binita get the project seen by more people because I think it was brave of her to set it up.

Where can we see or read about your work online? 

Axis The Online Resource for Contemporary Art

www.vaughan-owen.org

 This embroidery is a plan of Brixton prison in London. 

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