Forest & Found

MAX BAINBRIDGE & ABIGAIL BOOTH

The 645: Where did you grow up?

Max: I was born in Whipps Cross.
Born and raised here my whole life, and I’ve seen it change and transform over the years.

Abi: I was born in Greenwich, South London. So grew up there for a period of time before moving to Kent, then came back to London to study at Chelsea art school, so we have always been in and around London.

The 645: Tell me how the studio got started?

Abi: We graduated in 2013 from Chelsea College of Arts where our practice was driven by materials, by being in touch with materials and sort of experimenting and being playful with them.

When we graduated we basically wanted to earn a living straight off from our practice. It was very easy and tempting to go and get a part-time job to kind of fund a studio and not really make a massive go of it, plus we kind of graduated right into the recession.

So we decided to build a studio in our back garden because at the time we couldn’t afford studio rent anywhere.

We then sort of fell into crafts through seeking out materials such as textiles and wood. I think it was all about the concept and process of building a studio and working with wood. Being in Walthamstow, there is quite a lot of textile history so I think we needed that year to find our focus and find what materials we were really drawn to.

After a long conversation, we decided to take the risk and commit to starting the studio.

So now, two years down the line we sort of have a real sense of identity and voice in the work, but it’s taken all of that time to get to that point. It’s been a very natural progression in how it built up, bit by bit we’ve got to where we are now.
It didn’t just happen overnight. I think these things take time.

Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com
Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com
Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com
Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com
Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com

The-645: Where do you showcase your work?

Max: Now we predominantly showcase our work through galleries and exhibitions. Last year we were awarded funding by Jerwood Arts to produce a brand-new body of work to go into the Jerwood Makers Open which is a biannual exhibition showcasing artists working with craft processes.

The-645: Who are your inspirations?

 Max: In terms of coming from a fine art background, we tend to always reference artists, so Barbara Hepworth has been someone who’s been a massive influence.

Abi: I think the scale of her work is really exciting and I think challenging scale is something we are always working towards.

So yeah she’s been quite a big influence, and so has David Nash. He is someone else who works predominantly in wood, really interesting, thinks about wood in a very different sculptural way.

Max: Also photographers like William Eggleston and Wolfgang Tilmann, just in terms of how they make photographs and how they work with objects and photographs, by just playing with the material.

Abi: Agnes Martin and Robert Ryman in terms of painters, again they have that sense of stillness in their work that is driven through the use and language of the material which I think we look at a lot.

I think all of them are very particular in their mark-making, so there is this real subtlety in their approach to materials, that’s then hugely visually impactful. I think it’s that learning of how to be restrained with your materials that is really important.

Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com

The-645: What makes the studio unique?

Abi: It’s our relationship, I think.

Max: Yeah.

Abi: Not that we are a couple per se, but I think the working relationship is what makes it different. There is a constant dialogue between ourselves and the objects we make and that’s sort of the driving force behind it all.

Max: The conversations we have every day about what we are doing, what’s working and what’s not working helps to shape the work.

Sometimes it stops you from going down an avenue that potentially isn’t working or pushes you to do something different. It makes it interesting.

Abi: We critique each other’s work all the time, and when we show our work to the public they instantly come into those conversations. So I think that’s how it translates. People instantly pick up on the relationship between materials and the objects themselves. That’s always been satisfying, to see the public reaction.

Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com
Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com
Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com
Exploring Forest & Found, the visual arts and contemporary craft designers Max Bainbridge & Abigail Booth. Interview for the-645.com

The-645: Three words that best describe your style.

Max: Minimal and reflective

Abi: Contemplative and quiet. 

Because we are not trying to shout about what we do, we want the work to speak by itself. It’s quiet, but I think quietness doesn’t exist a lot anymore in this world.

The-645: What is your personal style? 

Max: Mine is a mix between hardwearing American workwear brands and durable functional clothes that also look good.  Classical British influence, I suppose.

Abi: There is definitely a sense of the Shaker, I do like that idea of restrained clothing mixed with neutral tones the same as the work. My self-expression comes through my work, my personal style has always been influenced by that.

The-645: Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Both: I think we would really like to be doing bigger exhibitions, where it’s about the curation of objects and the work. I think craft is starting to filter into that fine art world, the two are beginning to merge and there is infinite opportunity to experiment and challenge the conventions within that.

@forestandfound
www.forest-and-found.com

Words: Tatyana Chmaissani
Photo: Ioannis Koussertari