Karolina Glusiec was born in Lublin in Poland in 1986 and studied Audiovisual Communication at The Academy of Humanity and Economics in Lodz. In 2009 she moved to London and has just completed an MA in animation at The Royal College of Art. She is the winner of this year’s Jerwood Drawing Prize.
What was the inspiration behind your animated film Velocity that won the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2012?
I think it was all about going to places and seeing different things and then coming back to where you are from, and realizing that your life there had been really fascinating. I wanted to make a film about my memories of Siennica Nadoina. I moved there when I was seven and a half, and left when I was 19. I didn’t go back very often and have never felt homesick or nostalgic about it. But I would talk to my friends and family on the phone and ask; “how is it now? Who moved out? Who moved in?” So last summer I started to draw things that I remembered and it transpired that this is the only proof I have that some places, people and things ever existed.
But I did not want to make a film about Siennica Nadoina, I wanted to make one about memory, drawing and drawings. So it looks like the main inspiration behind the film is…drawing.
Who narrated the film, and why did you think it necessary?
Dougie Hastings, who is an actor and lives in London. I wrote the script myself. It was just a collection of words that recalled my village, but I hope the words are familiar to the viewer as well, that they might recognize in them images from their own memories. I did not want to use my own voice and I did not want the voice to sound dramatic or sentimental. I wanted it to sound distant and unemotional.
What do you like to draw with?
I have no preferred tool or method, although I feel most comfortable when the work is monochromatic. I think my works are mostly grey or black and white.
What is the best thing about drawing?
That you don’t have to pretend, and you can be as sincere as you want to be. It is a primary art medium for us. When we are children we draw with crayons on paper, with a stick on sand, with felt tips on walls. I love it because you can be spontaneous and free. I’m shy and awkward and I don’t really talk much. So when I draw I feel like I can be myself and do what I really want.
If you hadn’t been an artist, what would you have been?
I don’t know. I’ve had many odd jobs, just like everyone I guess but drawing is the best thing I’ve ever done. Not that long ago I was afraid that I would never be able to draw, because of my health (I have a problem with my eyes.) So, drawing is the best thing ever. But if I had to choose, I would like to work on radio and play records, preferably between 2 and 4 am, when it’s not necessary to talk much, so I could just play the music.
Is there a dream place you would like to see your work exhibited?
Not really. I like the idea of moving drawings, not an animation, but physically moving them, like throwing them out of a speeding train, or sending them across the water. And I wish I could be brave enough just to approach someone and say, “can I give you a drawing?” Yes I think that would be something.
How many hours a day do you draw?
It depends. It can be 15 minutes or 14 hours. But I don’t really count time when I’m drawing. Drawing is like a holiday, although you have to work at it too. After several years of non art-related jobs I threw myself into drawing again when I got a place in the Royal College of Art. I wanted to draw as much as I could. And I still want to draw as much as I can now.
What is the strangest object in your studio?
I’m staying with my mum at the moment, so I don’t have a studio. But when I was sharing a studio space at the RCA, I kept on labeling everything, including messy bits of paper. So there were all these Post it notes about with “this is really a drawing. Please don’t throw it away.”
What is the oddest art experience you have ever had?
I was at the Off Music Festival in Myslowice in Poland, in 2008. There was a performance by Joanna Rajkowska that was on some sort of viaduct; you could see the cars going underneath when you looked down. There was a long table covered in a white tablecloth with platters of oysters on it and she invited everyone to take part and eat, but it looked too luxurious in this industrial environment. When I see an exhibition I often feel a bit odd when I leave, as if everything outdoors now looks different, like it’s a different world. I think that Rajkowska’s performance was like that, but inverted. Like we are all in a big gallery and it only takes a couple of steps to experience the art… like the big elegant table with platters of oysters. Incidentally, approached the table but then I turned around and went away. I was too shy.