Based in the southside of Glasgow, Tess Glen is an alumni of the Edinburgh College of Art, and the Royal Drawing School.  She happened to be familiar with our name sake street and even knows a Mr. Butterbiggens.  Recently showing work at Salt Space in Glasgow and online as part of the Curated for Covid festival, Tess has an upcoming show at Six Foot Gallery in Glasgow, ‘Worship in the Neighbour’s House’. (May 7th-25th ’21) We spoke about the narrative elements of her work and the technical overlap between different mediums. Please click through for a short profile.

Butterbiggens 

is there Really a  “Mr Butterbiggens”

Tess Glen

Haha, well he’s just a friend of a friend ,lives around the corner from me. I am interested in why the prize is named Butterbiggins though? it’s a great word

Tess Glenn's Portrait of Mr Butterbiggens
Mr Butterbiggens

BB

After the hospital, but no real reason, I was told it was an old Scottish word for a dairy.  Daisy and Allison  streets are named after the daughters of the man who owned most of the land in Govanhill

Tess

I love these Glasgow street names, I’ve stolen the name Ardbeg for one of my characters in a comic I’m doing

 

BB 

 I wanted to ask you about comics ,the prints on your website have this very narrative quality, and even the paintings, look very intimate in scale ,like “New Yorker” comics almost

 

T

Oh well that is a big compliment thank you, I’ve always loved New Yorker cartoons, I used to have this great book of James Thurber cartoons that I loved but unfortunately the library asked for it back after 3 years

I think they influenced me a lot because they are very funny and you can’t quite put your finger on why, I aspire to that quality!

I was doing a lot of etching when I was at the drawing school, I always thought I was too impatient and slapdash for printmaking but actually I found etching to open up lots of new ideas for me. It forces you to slow down and really think about what you want to contain in a plate. It also makes you expect disappointment and work with it. I naturally work quite small and get lost in detail and pattern, because they are so time consuming you naturally begin to construct more of a narrative about what’s going on in the drawing

 

 

BB: What about the installation, where the plant is in relief on the wall?

T: That was a really big painting I was doing for a long time on a big sheet. I couldn’t make it work so I just cut out the individual elements and stuck them up. I  had totally forgotten about that installation, it’s good to be reminded because that often happens with a painting, I get to a point where just want to cut it up

BB 

 I wonder how you’ve been showing, and viewing work, if your consumption changed (with the various UK lockdowns)

T

It’s been hard i’ve really missed seeing physical work. I really enjoyed an exhibition put on by Mostyn Gallery called ‘My Online Bedroom’ ,it was this very cool and kitsch interior online that you could wander about in and view the work, it looked like you could see the sea in the distance behind the walls. The last irl exhibition i saw was John Byrne at the Glasgow printmakers, i was quite amazed by that and just how good he is at drawing, and funny too

BB: Is there anyone, a painter, or other artist, who you like who you think is kind of due for a critical revival?

 

T:I think it would be Hokusai’s for me. He’s not underrated but lots of people just look at his very famous prints like the wave. He did these catalogues where he tried to draw everything from species of birds to eating utensils, I really love the ones of figures stretching and fightingin terms of contemporary artists I would say an irish painter Eoin Mcevoy and Lana Svirezheva who lives in Hawaii.

BB 

you must have spent a lot of time in Museums, i saw these drawings you did of African masks

T

I find drawing from them is the only way i can really properly look at them because they are so mythologized and when you go to museums it can be very overwhelming to be surrounded by these objects you don’t know the context of, i think drawing from them is a way to learn and listen

BB:  Aside from artists who you think should be reconsidered, do you have any guilty pleasures?

 

T : Well, something that’s not really art but i think must have some influence on the characters i make up is watching a lot of obscure documentaries about ego maniac celebs

Madonna, Marco-Pierre White

BB

 Marco Pierre-White, the chief?

Tess:

He’s a very very complex man

 

 

 

to see more work: https://cargocollective.com/tessglen or on Instagram at @teddglen.

Interview April 21, by Ben Duax

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