Featured Artist: Ptolemy Erlington
Interview Questions for Ptolemy
Who are you and why do you do what you do?
My name is Ptolemy Elrington and I make sculpture for a living because I would burst if I didn’t.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
Being honest with yourself, not cutting corners, not compromising and remembering to enjoy the journey.
How has your practice changed over time?
I’ve got better as I’ve gone along. Familiarity with the materials helps, but a sustained period of working trains the eye to react quicker and make less mistakes.
What other art form art do you most identify with?
Music. Undoubtedly. If I wasn’t driven to make sculpture I would be a musician simply because I love it so much.
What’s your scariest experience?
Standing up and lecturing to five hundred people without any notes or preparation.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
Seeing people dressed in rags crawling over a pile of waste and salvaging every tiny piece of potentially useful material. That led me to the recycle ethos in my work.
As long as I can remember I’ve had the urge to create and I can’t spend any length of time without doing something. When I’ve gone traveling poems pour out and I have to sketch. I’ve been lucky in that my parents encouraged me to follow my chosen path.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I mostly remember the negative ones. A scornful passing comment “It’s what they call art.” drew from me the haughty retort – “How dare you Madam. It isn’t art – it’s a fish!”
What superpower would you have and why?
I would like to be able to permanently hover one inch off the ground. I like the idea that most people wouldn’t notice and those that did wouldn’t be quite sure….
What is your dream project?
An aerodrome full of discarded airplanes, a giant forklift truck, an aircraft hanger to work in and a limitless budget. Oh – and a twenty year old body that never got tired.
What role does art and the artist have in society?
To remind the world that art is fun and we need a lot of other things in life besides money. The essential nature of art is something we can’t do without because we are nothing without wonder.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to and why.
Helen Denerley, Michihiro Matsuoka and Edouard Martinet. Because their work is sublime and I am always immensely impressed with every piece they produce.
Favourite or most inspirational place and why?
Barcelona. I’ve been there many times and I really like that city. Gaudi is a big part of it of course, but it’s always felt right when I’ve been there.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Pick your battles. Specifically in regards to child rearing but it’s a useful adage to live the rest of my life by.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
To keep on making art and to keep on enjoying myself until I don’t have the strength to pick up a pair of pliers.
What couldn’t you do without?
Sculpting, music, motorcycles and single malt