Artist Interviews

  • Harry Freegard

    Harry Freegard

    In-between shooting editorials, tutoring the next generation of fashion designers at Saint Martins, and collaging to his heart's content, featured artist Harry Freegard speaks with co-curator Will Ferreria Dyke to discuss his inclusion in Black White Gallery’s exhibition Edged: An Ode to Mapplethorpe.
  • Good morning, Harry! How are you doing, what has your week been saying?
     Will, it has been gorgeous! I went to see my mum in Wilshire. Got a flat tyre in Devon. Walked a dog. Got back last night. All is well and good on this lovely Tuesday morning. 
    How lovely! So, tell me about yourself.
    I studied Fashion at Central Saint Martins, where I have since been lecturing for the past five years. I actually only completed my bachelors at CSM and didn’t even apply for the masters; I got halfway through the application for the MA and fobbed it off! I was lucky, however, because as soon as I graduated, I got dragged into teaching on the postgraduate courses. At first it was funny being such a baby. That’s all changed now, they act like I'm over fifty and dated - which is great! I also lecture in Fashion in a college in Geneva. Alongside my teaching I shoot editorials, collage pictures and work collaboratively with a lot of brands in a freelance capacity. Currently, it seems that I am selling a lot of my art and drawings which is quite gorgeous.
    How would you describe your artistic style?
    My work is extremely instinctual. A lot of the physical artworks are almost a by-product of a wider pursuit of expression of transformative identities. I kind of live as different personas that I take on for months at a time. Ever since I was a child, I adopted these spectacular identities, I suppose, in order to gain something inside as well as gaining a new artistic experience. I would dress up for months on end, heavily committing to a singular motive. Whether that be dressing up as Elvis for a year or silly shit like that.
    Did you adopt an identity for the works in Edged?
    Many of the works we are showing came from a time when I was living on the side of a mountain. I am a very feminine guy; I’ve pretty much worn dresses for the last ten years with a full face of make-up and heels every day. But then I was put in this remote location, which was extremely religious, in the middle of nowhere, and where no one spoke any English. As a form of assimilation and protection I adopted this more masculine identity: full moustache, wearing men’s clothes, going to a barber, all of it (ignore the fact I’m currently growing a moustache - that’s more just for funsies).
    Why on earth were you on this mountain?
    I wish I had the answer. In James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room there is a line which states that ‘It’s really beautiful but I’m tired of being in places for no reason’, and that’s exactly how I felt. The geography was heavenly but really, I had no reason to be there. It was beautiful and way cheaper than being in London. I was doing nothing other than drawing everyday and living momentarily as this new person. It was weird come to think of it. The cowboy cut out porno works were born there.
    Did this lead to your Flicky Hair Boy series, which are your naïve drawings of male busts?
    Yes, the Flicky Hair Boys came as a spilling over of that experience. The drawings almost come through the strange hetero idealising lens into something more queer, I suppose. I think I am a good litmus test as to what is happening in the zeitgeist or what is to come. Now it’s all about madness, everyone is dressing up crazy, people on TikTok dress insane to get attention - I love swinging the other way, and the mountain was perfect for this. I was looking at the boom in Trumpy twitter porn; the weird right wing, anti-gay, but deeply homoerotic twitter users which post all this insane content of an idealised man. 
    Mapplethrope is a famed flicky hair boy, a Downtown twink if you will, how did you come about his work? 
    I have been aware of Mapplethorpe for a long time, though I don’t think I’ve ever taken him specifically as inspiration. However,  I know that I probably wouldn’t be doing what I am doing without his influence. Fashion loves him. Fashion loves Mapplethorpe!
    Think of Raf Simmons Spring-Summer 2017 – the runway was filled with curly-haired, skinny men wearing distressed clothes printed with Mapplethorpe images.
    Oh, Raf loves that shit. Very Rush music video!
    Troye adjacent indeed! Thoughts and feelings?
    I have many. I thought it was a great video, but I also do think the critique is valid. The interview with Emrata was lol. She is a fantastic interviewer, isn’t she?
    Oh yeah, big Emrata fan me. Beyond twitter porn where else are you looking for reference?
    Naturally, like any good art student, I love Juergen Teller and Woolfgang Tillmans and all their un-doneness. In general, I am a cultural fiend, I drink in everything around me. I think consumption is a huge part of it in my practice. I will watch whatever movie in the cinema, I don’t know if that’s an ADHD trait or not - hot take, I didn’t love Barbie. It is so cliché to say but music and poetry are also a great reference point. I am an extreme audiophile and embarrassingly an absolute Lana fanatic. Born and bred, she is everything to me. Her poetry is really good!
    Yes, honestly it is great! But listen to it, don’t read it.
    Does she read it?
    OMG imagine if it was someone else… Steven Fry?
    Maybe Meryl or Ian McKellen? Going forward, where is Harry headed?
    I am currently cooking up some large-scale collages. I want to have a bigger moment! I always work on things and never put them out. I’m sitting on stacks and stacks of work that I don’t do anything with so who knows when and if these will be out. I quite like when people buy things, so lately I am less into intangible materials. 
    Finally, a hypothetical: who is your dream collaborator, and what would you collaborate on?
    Ugh, I would love to do an album cover for Lana, duh, but you can’t put that in. I think I would just love a really big show. I’m quite good at commanding a big space and getting attention. I’d eat it up. I’m not that bothered about location, I just want a big space, loads of gorgeous lighting and a lot of press.
    Now that’s the soundbite! And scene.
  • Ines Michelotto

    Ines Michelotto

    Ines Michelotto is a multidisciplinary artist from Italy, currently living and working in London. Her artistic pursuits encompass a diverse range of artistic endeavours, spanning from crafting costumes for theatre and film to the intricacies of drawing and her primary medium, painting. Ines dedicates significant attention to her experiences as a transgender woman, a central theme that resonates throughout her work. Ines took the time to chat with Will Ferreira Dyke. 
  • Hi Ines, thank you for taking the time to discuss your artwork with me. We are very excited to exhibit three of your beautiful paintings in Edged. To start off with, how did you come to art?
     Art and drawing have always been a part of my life. No one in my family is involved in the arts, but surprisingly my dad has a hidden drawing talent that he passed down to me. When I was younger, we used to draw a lot together. My interest in sketching persisted throughout my childhood, so I went to a Liceo artistico in my hometown, Padova – this a type of secondary school in Italy especially devoted to the study of art. It was there that I had more formal training in sculpture, life drawing, and Art History. Later, I decided to specialise in architecture, but my interest remained rooted in the more visual aspect of this practice. In London, I chose to study Costume Design for Theatre and Screen at UAL Wimbledon College of Arts. 
    It seems from its very genesis that your work was super interdisciplinary. How would describe your style?
    My artistic style has recently undergone a shift. I used to approach painting more casually, but now I'm putting conscious effort and thought into what I create to further refine my style. However, of course it is ever-changing. Growing up in cities like Padova and Venice introduced me to more classical, traditional art. Moving to London broadened my horizons and introduced me to a community of skilled artists, influencing not only my artistic approach but also shaping me as an individual.
    The power of London! How do you approach your subject matter, are there themes you go back to? 
    Femininity and womanhood overall have always been central to my work. This interest comes from my admiration for beautiful feminine bodies and energies. As a trans woman, I've found a strong connection with the feminine energy in me - it is something I've always aspired to capture. In London especially, I was able to surround myself with super inspiring individuals, talented, beautiful and creative, and enrich my life … Recently they have been becoming some of my subjects.
    One of my favourite works in the show is your self-portrait, do you like painting self-portraits?
    My features have always been my main source of inspiration. Earlier on in my practice, each subject possessed something of me in them, which came naturally, as my traits were the traits I was most used to. Now, I'm more comfortable depicting myself. My image and how I present myself have always been central in my life, and it’s important to document it in my art. My transition was a long process, an ongoing journey of thoughts and acceptance.
    Edged is ‘An Ode to Mapplethorpe’, and your work reminds me of his early photographs of his contemporaries in the Chelsea. How do you think you take inspiration from the artists?
    I came across Mapplethorpe's work through his iconic images of Candy Darling - one of my trans icons - and through learning about his relationship with Patti Smith. The intimate process of portraiture and subject selection in his work touched me deeply, despite the equally intense pornographic themes - I think he manages to translate these in a delicate manner. Mapplethorpe’s works possess the kind of sensibility I want to convey in the eyes of my subjects. Subjects that simultaneously have this compelling softness and incredible strength.
    I also find inspiration in other figures working in New York during that period. Seeing how queer individuals in the seventies and eighties lived I find exceptionally liberating, such as the likes of Peter Hujar and even Alice Neel. Their stories create a strong influence on my art, and also on the way I want to live.
    Going forward where else would you like to push your work; is there any media you’re excited to explore?
    With my background in costume design and fabric manipulation, I want to integrate these disciplines more into my practice – using costumes and fabrics as experimental surfaces for my work.
    Finally, in a hypothetical situation, if you could exhibit anywhere, no budget, no restraints, what would you show?
    I've always been drawn to large-scale pieces, believing they have a unique impact. If I had more resources, I'd definitely expand the size of my work without any budget or space limitations.


    Matt Macken is a Leicester-based artist who has recently come to know the work of Robert Mapplethorpe. In response, he has crafted a unique artwork tailored for an exhibition which is directly influenced by his newfound appreciation. In conversation with Will Ferreira Dyke, Matt delves into both this Mapplethorpe revelation and his artistic approach.
  • Hi Matt, how are you today? 

    Hello, I am doing well thanks. I dropped off my painting and the watercolour works yesterday for the show. But so far today I have been waiting in for a delivery myself. Very dull.
    Firstly, tell me how you came to practising art?
    I started with music, and for a long time was my obsession. I was in a band where I played both the bass and the rhythm guitar - I can’t sing for shit!  Music was a love hate thing. I would really enjoy the creative process of making the music but when it came to performing and doing gigs, I used to hate it. Over time I started experimenting and gradually got into more visual art through print making. I started with graphic illustrations and then explored linos and silk screens silk screen. Nowadays, painting has become my primary medium, and it's the predominant form of artwork that I showcase.
    Am I right in thinking you recently had your first solo show? Firstly congratulations, please could you tell me a little bit about it.

    You are correct. Pyromania exhibited this July in Paris with Nil Gallery. This came about because last year I did a piece called Es Muss Sein (2022) which was a painting of somebody smoking, setting fire to some flowers. Nil Gallery reached out to see if the piece was available however it had already sold. Off the back off this enquiry they pitched me a show of the similar theme. From what they told me there is this tradition in France where they set fire to crops as some form of ritual. So that’s what we did. I made a tonne of work.
    Es Muss Sein, did you show this with Black White Gallery?
    Yes, that’s the one!
    Do you often use floral iconography?
    Yeah annoyingly. I try not to as it feels often like a cop out. But it is hard not too. Eventually, one day, I will find something to replace them with. Sometimes it feels like I put them in when I don’t know what else to do. Clearly, I don’t know what the fuck I am doing most of the time cause there is flowers in most of my paintings.
    Surpassing les fleurs, where are you excited to explore next?
    I’ve not shared anything online as I am still trying to get my head around it but I am currently working on some sculptural works in clay. I have a mate who has a kiln so I am going to persuade him to let me use it. For the moment I am just using that air dry stuff. I can remember using it at school, and I must have been better at it then because now it is just so fiddly!
    We are so lucky that we have a piece commissioned for this show Imitation of Life (2023), can you talk me through the process?
    I started by looking at his work, trapsing through the books. I was considering whether I ought to re-create one of Mapplethorpe's compositions in the form of a painting, or if I should incorporate similar explicit homoerotic subjects. But Imitation of Life (2023) piece is kind of neither nor! There is this one portrait of Truman Capote (1981) by Mapplethorpe that struck me due to the background being filled by this cropped painting of fish. I started by reimaging this in bright colours and from there it snowballed into its own thing. Throughout the painting there are a heap of references and Mapplethorpe easter eggs. 
    Had you used Mapplethorpe as reference before?
    To be honest I didn’t know much of his work prior to this show. In fact, when I was approach to do this show I couldn’t quite place his name, which is stupid because I’ve seen his work all over. The Tate Modern have one of his Self-Portrait (1988) where he holds his skull topped cane, which seems to stick out which I saw years ago. And then when I realised it was him it all became clearer. He also obviously did the portraits of Patti Smith and I love her music so it was nice to get more familiar with the artist behind them.
    Do you think you’ll take further inspiration from this downtown artist?
    Possibly yeah, I kept some of the references. I used to do quite a lot of homoerotic art, such as Altwinksuboyuk23 (2023) and The Wrestler (2023) However, I had that fear of getting stuck in a category: being a guy who solely makes queer work. I guess Mapplethorpe was doing that sexual work whilst having other subjects say his flowers for example. It has been a short while since I’ve done homoerotic work but I am sure they will creep back in. 
    They always do, and edged is a celebration of such!

  • Verde


    Verde’s paintings mirror Mapplethorpe’s playful expressions of sexualities and intimacies. The use of the tightly cropped frame creates an extreme closeness resulting in an uninterrupted picture frame saturated with flesh and flirty frivolity. Verde speaks with Will Ferreira Dyke to discuss her practice and her inclusion in the show.
  • Hello Verde, how has your week been thus far?
    It has been good, thank you. I have just been readjusting to my studio routine following a few weeks in Italy.
    Verde take me back, how did you come to art?
    I think I initially approached art with complete naivety, I was driven by the need to immerse myself in something during my challenges of adolescent. Over time, I recognised its potential in helping me understand the world, leading me to study History of Art for my BA at the Accademia di Brera in Milan. While painting remained a priority, I also sought a broader understanding of art theory. I then pursued my MAFA at the City and Guilds of London Art School, which was a transformative moment in my practice. Since graduating, I've worked as an artist, occasionally taking on part-time art technician roles that allowed me to hang out with crazy masterpieces. 
    I fell in love with your beautiful intimacies and cropped portraits, please could elaborate on your style a little?
    I deliberately avoid confining myself to a specific style, as I can't pinpoint one that if fully representative. I see my paintings as windows revealing our interconnectedness through shared experiences. Human experience and interpersonal dynamism are reoccurring themes in my work. Unpacking these dynamics makes me understand more about myself as well as society and culture. Addressing social intimacy offers catharsis by revealing previously unknown aspects of ourselves, unveiling new possibilities.
    What will you be exhibiting in Edged?
    The works I am presenting in this show are part of a series I made in 2022, inspired by photos of people in their homes. The paintings highlight the subtlety of intimate moments using a blurred effect, reminiscent of how the passage of time can reshape memories, giving rise to evolving imagery that is rooted in emotions. ‘Always Loved and Never Forgotten' depicts an intimate couple, one tenderly kissing the other's leg in bed. 'I Promise I Won't Promise a Promise I Won't Promise' portrays my partner sleeping. I love stealing these fleeting moments from the ones around me.
    In terms of Mapplethorpean influence, how did you come to know the artist?
    I became more familiar with Mapplethorpe's work through Patti Smith's 'Just Kids’. I can remember reading this some ten years ago. While I had seen some of his images in museums before, the book gave me an emotional insight that deeply resonated. His representations of people, whether nudes or portraits, are profoundly inspiring. He captures subjects' identities and emotions through their eyes and gestures, creating an almost tangible connection with the audience.
    Just Kids is a primary reason behind my personal love for Mapplethorpe and this show. Where else do you take inspiration from?
    My inspiration comes from various sources: movies, books, every-day scenes. I mentally collage this information, comparing them with classical references like Renaissance Art—an enduring inspiration despite its initial pressure on my artistic expression. Growing up in Florence I was immersed in it, and now I use it to question its narrative against our contemporary society.
    Finally, whats in the future for Verde, what are you excited about creating?
    In the past year, I've delved into video-making experimentation, and I would like to invest more time in it. The camera processes information faster than painting and enables me to craft interactive atmospheres. In 2022, I launched a food project called Eccoci Kitchen. I organise supper clubs and collaborate with galleries and brands which fostering intimacy and partnerships. This project has offered me unexpected freedom for experimentation. My next aspiration is an immersive exhibition blending all my mediums, allowing them to inform one another. I am also intrigued by the idea of a public endeavour, like a mural in a residential area, where the work can be integrated into daily life for those living nearby.
  • Amir Chasson

    Amir Chasson

    Amir Chasson is a berlin-based artist who employs a photomontage style in his practice, reappropriating homoerotic imagery into intricate, visually deceptive, collages. Within Chasson's work, there is an element of the uncanny, leaving viewers uncertain about the true nature of what they are witnessing. He speaks with Will Ferreira Dyke to discuss all things, queer, cut outs and Mapplethorpe.
  • Hi Amir, thank you for taking my call, how has your day been so far? 
    It’s good, it’s been very focused actually. I have a few shows coming up, so I am a little bit stressed. I have an exhibition in Paris and another in Norwich, alongside Black White Gallery’s Edged.
    London, Paris, Norwich! Have you shown in London before?
    Of course, I studied in London. I did my MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths where I primarily worked on videos and paintings. These paintings were half figurative, half abstract and got me some attention … and a few sales which is always nice. However, I have veered away from that now. When you observe the progression of my work, it might seem like it takes on different forms, but it consistently relies on the same methods. I have and will continue to utilise the logics of appropriation and found imagery in my practice.
    How do you approach a new body of work?
    Usually, I work in series and have a restricted medium or theme that I wish to explore. Currently, I’m doing a lot of the homoerotic cut outs. The fun part of a project lies within the creative expansion and exploration. The not so fun part is in between stages, coming up with a new idea. Often, that is a real struggle. But my work is always introspectively connected. You’ll notice I always confront themes of masculinity and men. In all fairness, it is gay men hold a significant position as the primary focal point in my practice. I just can’t get away from them, despite trying many times! My work is very queer, very sexual and very visceral.
    Were you taught about queer theory when you were studying?
    Yes, Goldsmiths is very queer! At first, I almost rejected it as English is my second language and reading the theory was difficult. I can remember my thesis was about psychoanalysis, as I was exploring the visceral effect of making art. Perhaps nowadays psychoanalysis is a clique, questions of sublimation and existentialism are overdone. Though at the time I was graduating, just after the financial crisis, things were looking bad - real shitty – for us artists emerging from art school. 
    Our exhibition features your collages, such as Pickup (2023) and Young Elvis (2023), which primarily use vintage pornographic iconography. Where do you find these images? 
    I have collected these images online for years; I have a huge collection of references. I was a graphic designer for years, in the booming era of print, so I hold a lot of importance to celluloid imagery and its aesthetics.  I draw inspiration from the seventies, a time that is distant enough for me not to have experienced it first-hand, yet close enough for me to retain memories of it. I was a child in the seventies, so my aspiration is to emulate the art from that world. But of course, it is just a matter of taste. I can remember younger peers at Goldsmith who would look to the eighties for inspiration. But I thought the eighties was shit because that’s when I was a teenager. Besides maybe the Smiths, it was so naff. What is your process like creating your collages? These collages start digitally, on photoshop, where I come up with an idea that will be possible to create physically with a sharp knife. In the end, the work is produced by hand, as I print out these images and manually cut and paste them. Beyond gallery exhibitions, I have used these images in printed poetry publications so sometimes they can appear digitally. Every now and then I write silly poetry just so that my images can have accompanying text. However, do not read the poetry too closely. I write it in English and then run it through translation into German—neither of which are my native languages. 
    Your work reminds me of Mapplethorpe’s Gay Power cover (1970) and his early collages. Do you often draw inspiration from him? 
    Being a gay person, being a gay artist, of course Mapplethorpe is in the deepest layers of your psyche. I must say, I didn’t look at him for a long time. With these collages there was no conscious reference of Mapplethorpe … but I’m sure he’s in there somewhere. The idea of these collages is actually very old, I started this a long time ago but never really developed it. But you know, one day you have the right image and the right frame of mind and then something happens and you start a whole new thing. And here I am.  Here you are indeed, and we are very grateful for your inclusion in our show.
    Thank you, the pleasure is all mine. See you in London for the opening!