Maddie Tait-Jamieson is a Wellington artist and illustrator. Here, she answers a few questions about life, art, and menstrual cup sculpture dreams.
Who are your biggest influences?
No one can be the biggest but I have to mention the creator of the Moomins, Tove Jansson. Her universe is incredibly quirky and poetic. I remember being added on Skype when I was younger by someone under the name ‘Jove Tansson’. It was eerie and I had to block them but I definitely felt she was trying to tell me something.
I’ve also always admired my mother’s sense of curiosity, and passion for a good story. I’m drawn to art that prioritises narrative.
What role does art have in society?
I get very confused about the role of politics in art. While it’s inescapable that all art is inherently political, I find there’s a blurred line between ‘art’ and ‘activism’. I don’t think all art should be activist art, however I don’t think it should have the privilege of remaining in its own art world. It should be about connecting and challenging people and society.
What’s the most memorable response you’ve had to your work?
‘It’s funny, your drawings look so good far away but when you get up close, you can see they’re actually kind of bad,’ a friend of mine told me. You get a lot of non comments about your work, like ‘hey that’s cool’, and 'this was a beautifully gutsy thing to say.'
What research do you do?
I am the type to experiment physically and play with ideas before I start to build a concept to work around. I can get quite obsessed with objects and fairy tales, and I like to trace their mythology through to contemporary settings. I also find art theory really necessary for grounding young artists and their artwork in this place in history. Whilst it’s not ‘topical research’, it’s pretty essential in creating awareness about the cultural/social/economic setting, and the environment the work interacts with.
What is your dream project?
I had recently discovered Paul McCarthy’s giant inflatable butt plug sculpture in Paris, which reminded me of the big plans a friend from art school and I had to create a live-in sized upside down menstrual cup. Our menstrual cup was to be of that same latex see-through material, solid enough to stand wind, and large enough to fit a couple of people inside. We could about attach a satellite dish to the top of it so you could watch TV inside of it too, and we would hire it out to music festivals, but this was back when menstrual cups were a novel object; I’m not sure it would have the same effect today.
What’s something your brain tries to make you do and you have to will yourself not to do it?
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?
How much good feedback the internet (and Wellington) is giving the Netflix show Sex Education. It’s so formulaic but trying so hard to be profound, also it’s got that classic slapstick ‘my butt is covered in dirt and it looks like poo’ thing happening.
Money is no object. Which priceless artwork do you buy?
The large plastic tuatara sculpture from the Cuba street playground. OR the two distressed Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck sculptures on the Picton waterfront. Those things have been there since probably the 60’s.