Sophie Dixon’s work is rooted in extensive historical, social and cultural research. Concerned with the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, she deconstructs and expands narratives to explore the tenuous relationship between ourselves and the environments in which we live. Using personal research and writing as a narrative backbone, her work is less interested in portraying a historic truth than in exploring the connections between events across time - an attempt to open up the spaces between the experience of an event, and our later interpretations of it.
In 2014 she was awarded the CVAN Platform graduate award and has recently undertaken residencies with Mission Louvre-Lens Tourisme in Northern France and the UK based artists group Blast Theory.
Editor and writer, Rachel McDermott spoke to Sophie Dixon on professional practice, networking and her experience to date.
Tell me about your work
I’m currently exhibiting a new body of work stimulated by a recent residency in Lens, Northern France. It’s based on the coal mining industry in Kent and northern France and the impact it’s had on both memory and the landscape.
Since graduating you have taken part in exhibitions, film festivals and undertaken residencies. It seems like a busy year! To what extent have your expectations as an art student met with the reality of working as a professional artist?
I wanted to use this year as a way of exploring possible directions for my future practice, so I’ve approached it as a self initiated year of professional development. It’s been fundamental to work with other people, through residencies and collaborations, as I feel I’ve avoided the sense of isolation which may come after graduating. Overall I’d say it has exceeded any expectations I had and enforced my ambitions as an artist.
Your work seems to play with connection, disconnection and realignment of socio-environmental structures, but looking over your career to date it seems that these concerns could also inform the way that you work. You are, and have been, involved in networks and projects both in the UK and abroad, how connected do you feel to the wider arts sector?
A lot of my work to date is orientated in locations outside of the UK. I spent several years focusing on the Sudeten history of the Czech Republic and a considerable time now focusing on northern France. I’m interested in how the process of memory ties people to events and places, both across time and geographical location; as a result I view my own ability to relocate and work in different locations as fundamental to my practice. With regard to the wider arts sector I actively seek out opportunities to engage and collaborate but I also believe that sometimes it’s important to remain disconnected to pursue ones artistic enquiry without compromise.
You won the CVAN Platform Graduate Award 2014, how important do you think this graduate award is to emerging artists in the South East?
The CVAN Platform Graduate Award has been a great springboard for this year. To be given recognition for your work is an incredibly powerful thing on both a personal and professional level. I think one of the most valuable things to come out of the award has been the opportunity to extend to other artists and organizations, to be part of that greater support network.
What’s next for you?
I have a few solo and group exhibitions coming up now in both Kent and London and then I’m off to the Netherlands Film Academy in Amsterdam. I’ll be spending the next few years developing my filmmaking while exhibiting both abroad and in the UK.
Time Pressure Decay /
La Mort de L'Arbre
August 15th-16th 2015
Turner Contemporary & CRATE, Margate
Inspired by a recent residency in the former mining town of Lens, Northern France, this exhibition explores memories of the coal mining industry and the physical traces left upon the landscape. Working across video, writing and sound, Sophie Dixon draws connections between seemingly disparate fragments of experience to examine the unifying power of memory. Resonating with the story of the Kent coalfield, this two day exhibition takes place between the Turner Contemporary and Crate Project Space in Margate.
La Mort de L’Arbre (running time 15 minutes) will be screened over the weekend at the Turner Contemporary, accompanied by Time Pressure Decay, an exhibition of photography, text and research on display at the Crate Project Space.
Elements of Time Pressure Decay will also be on display at the following group exhibition:
[Dis]place, hARTslane, London
August 22nd-23rd 2015
For more information, visit sophie-dixon.com