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Takeover #201 Daisy Madden-Wells

Daisy Madden-Wells: Instagram / Website

#201 (11/04 - 15/04, 2022) written by Esther van Zoelen

Playfulness can be serious. It’s a way to discover, to find things when you are not looking for them. Daisy Madden-Wells graduated from a fine art bachelor in London, and following that did a Master of Artistic Research in The Hague, graduating in 2019. The research aspect in her practice can be seen in her interest in historical and heraldic echoes. Flags, sculptures and patriarchal symbols can be found transformed in her work, which aims to be a more honest portraiture, by exploring the visual methods and metaphors we use to describe ourselves with and relate to.

“I like to bring my references forward in their own independence, making them empathetic with their expressions and physicality. I think art should be both serious and playful.”

Daisy’s work consists of sculptures, paintings, drawings and occasionally texts. She describes how a week after making something new, it already has nothing to do with herself anymore; it has become its own creature, existing in its own logic and reality. Daisy likes to see her artwork as a way to describe both what we are and what we are not, just like we do when relating to animals or machines. The characters she creates are at the same time alienating and inclusive. They can also be depicted as a growing crowd; Daisy sometimes greets them when they seem to be looking at her in her studio.

Her sculptures receive a lot of interaction because of their own little personalities as well as the literal space they take up, becoming an interactive work without physically responding. Comparable with cartoons, but translated back into physicality. The material she works with – paper mache — also seems to be at the dividing line of almost-real; it is stronger than most people think, it functions as a ‘what if’, connoting costumes and theatre. Underneath that glue-paper surface a spirit is seen through the interaction and the mirroring of people’s selves. A symbolic lion stands for something else, but also remains just what they are.

“Some forms and figures in classical iconography like lions or dogs have almost become like wallpaper. I’m interested in them as a linguistic tool or a hieroglyphic, a visual language that we create to describe ourselves.”

New ideas come intuitively, Daisy thinks of something she wants to make and makes it — often seeing it very clearly from the beginning. Later on there is time for reversing; for interviewing herself about the importance of the work, doing self-reflection through rationalizing and describing the art, without gravitating towards always having to rely on its meaning. However, she also likes to be creative when choosing a title; it can be a hint or clue to what it is. Although the work could do without, she loves combining the physical language with vocabulary language. These two languages are fueled by numerous inspirations; from references and images on Instagram, to old churches and architecture, medieval and Celtic references, her friend’s work and the work of Leonora Carrington.

“I really like creating titles of works, but I think it’s because I’m also a writer. I always found words very easy, but as an artist I was never really trained in a specific discipline. To me everything is a constellation of meanings and ideas and often coming up with a name is the cherry on top.”

Portraits of her many lions will be shared when Daisy does her takeover on Rizoom’s Instagram. As well as inspirations – including kitsch and tacky things (her own words) – the progress of current work and different techniques. In short, a peek backstage into her disorganized studio, although it has recently been cleaned, she proudly adds.

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