A few days ago I had the chance to see the works of Marion Piper for the first time.
Facing her work I had different reactions, or to put it better, I had two different reactions in two different moments.
Actually, my interest hasn’t been immediate but the memory of that first view has never totally faded; I guess I needed to think about it so that after my initial scepticism, curiosity won over.
And I could discover some imprints. Maybe they were imprints of some kind of pathway that had left its shadow on the paper like a sort of message or language to codify.
As soon as I realised I could have been wrong to just stop at my first impression, I decided I had to go and see her in the studio which is not too far from London.
Marion has told me the story of her life and works and I am really grateful for her kind availability.
I use two different kinds of paper: one is of poor quality, while the other of a much finer quality.
My idea of movement comes from the different way the paper absorbs the colour and its shades. As in my life, movements in my works are rapid and steady at times, and they can also be very deep. I have been working as an artist since 2012 after being a designer first. I decided to go to university and graduate in fine arts.
Why have you decided to change career?
I really liked being a designer but at some point I realised I wanted to do something just for myself. I have always felt I was an artist deep inside and it is only now I can really express myself.
Where did you research start from?
Papers allow me to work quickly. But most importantly, as I started working with papers my childhood suddenly popped up into my mind. The books I use are kids books. When I was a kid I used to take my mum’s books coloured the pages. I have simply evolved now from then.
I have just started a new work where I redesign in artists books with my own language. I want to create a type of reading where you don’t just read through words, but through drawings as well. It’s like a contrast and you need to interpretate it according to the drawing.
What I feel when I do these works is that I am drawing and writing at the same time. It is all connected to who I was as a child. It is like I could see Marion when she was five. My work marks my growth path as an artist.
Anything I am up to during the day, I see forms that inspire me and then I represent them. My work represents who I am. It is what I carry with me, the places I have been, or what happened to me during the day. Even time can inspire me.
What kind of child was Marion?
I was a child, a thinker and designer. I loved to feel different materials and grab the sensations. I represent all my memories in the works I do.
What did you draw on your first artist book?
I made an abstact collage of what I felt. It was like mirroring my thoughts. At university my favourite book was “Invisible cities” (Città invisibili) by Italo Calvino. I loved that book so much that I transposed the same message in my work. Words and imagination worked together like if they were two parallel worlds. You can interpretate my work as you want. To me this is a written language, while to others it is a reading language.
How much older does Marion feel than that child?
I am always the same!
When was your first and latest exhibition?
Right after my graduation I had an exhibition which put me in a shortlist from the university as best display artist. I also made some works live in front of the people. Two weeks ago I took part to a collective exhibition called “Drawbridge“.
I will exhibit in Paris in October. I would like to have a show where I could post my work in all its variations and set it up with the same logic there is when writing a book. When you write a book you can experience different sensations and that is what I would like to provide to the end-viewer. It would be as if anyone could take its own journey with their sensations. I have always titled every one of my works as if they were a chapter of a book but I didn’t know I was doing it. I just know this idea will slowly take me to a complete final work. What I want is that people in the show can experience an individual journey.
Marion’s words reminded me of another writer I read in school in a wonderful book on the role of memories and art:
“In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust
No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was ME. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? I drink a second mouthful, in which I find nothing more than in the first, then a third, which gives me rather less than the second. It is time to stop; the potion is losing it magic. It is plain that the truth I am seeking lies not in the cup but in myself