EACH WEEK WE ASK A STUDENT TO BE GUEST EDITOR.
THIS WEEK KEN BANKS PUTS BEHIND HIS CAREER IN ENGINEERING TO PURSUE A PRACTICE IN ART AND DESIGN. HIS LATEST PROJECT EXPLORES THE AESTHETICS OF THE MEDICAL X-RAY TO EXPLORE CONTEMPORARY GENDER ROLES THROUGH A COLLECTION OF READYMADES, BASED AROUND THE FORM OF THE MALE AND FEMALE HAND. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HIS WORK AND THE JOURNEY THAT BROUGHT HIM HERE.
In my practice I worked each day developing ideas, discovering new things to investigate, not knowing what the end product will be. The journey is most important with new notions being considered each day. Making is most critical, quoting Grayson Perry “you’ve got to put the hours in”.
Q: What made you decide to study on the art and design course?
A: Was going to Art College in the 1970s, decided to take a trainee position in an advertising agency, “finished artist”, producing line drawings, layouts for newspaper and magazine ads. Retouching of photographs, producing finished artwork for brochures. After 2 years did not see a highly paid career path, artists in the studio lowest paid and the account executives ( non-artists), “suited and booted” the highest paid with expense accounts, flash motors .
Regretted not going to Art College, married at 21, and then crafted a career in engineering. Mortgage, three children , and before long I was earning good money, comfortable , albeit hardworking , but can say I was on the treadmill running at a pace that eventually would catch up with me , and it did. Whatever I achieved, I was not satisfied with it, celebrated for a day or two and got on with the next task of being better and winning more. In hindsight didn’t know what I wanted just wanted to be better, but I didn’t know what better way.
Some 40 years later, after marriage, three children, divorce, another marriage I didn’t want to be better any more, didn’t want to working for anyone else, ( the good guys nor the bad guys ) employers, family , I wanted to do what I regretted not doing when I was 18 and that was to go to art college to become an artist and develop my own practice.
Q: Can you describe what you are working on currently?
A: My investigation into transforming a readymade, a domestic rubber glove, particularly, the space inside, (the void when the glove is not used) and the movement of hands that fit into the glove (in their manufacture and while carrying out domestic chores) is what interested me. My works/practice culminated in the submission of two digital images, a right female hand and a left male hand. Both images are presented as x-rays , representations of cartilage, tendons and muscle. A look in to the unseen, each hand encapsulates a collection of readymades , each individual readymade is appreciated and their collective juxtaposition questions the everyday domestic jobs associated to gender.
My choice of display is to simulate a medical consultants consulting room used for discussing images with patients, peers and students. In a clinical white room on a white wall the readymade digital screen frames the images . The large screen dominates the white wall (white room ) I set out to confuse the viewer by them not fully understanding the images, they are aware that it is a x-ray of the body, seeing something that is not normally seen.Up on closer inspection the viewer becomes aware that it not a x-ray of the body but of a collection of readymades inside a hand form. Each hand is a collection of readymades juxtaposed against each other , making personal associations to the viewer, be it about family members, friends , experiences of domestic chores or the division of labour in their allocation.
Q: Finally, how do you see this course influencing your future ambitions?
A: The course will prepare me for establishing my own practice. This is probably the last chapter in my career, would that I would like to put the last 60 years in to some perspective, make sense of it, to document it, to comment on it. The way I plan to do this is via my Arts Practice.
I’ve listed below some of the major events in my lifetime:
Demise of : the motorcycle industry, the car industry, coal industry, steel industry, manufacturing and machine tools. Increase in student fees, increase in MPs salaries, rise and growth in food banks , increases to bankers bonuses , lack of social housing , selling off of “council houses “ The gap between the rich and the poor bigger. Public utilities sold off, Post office, Telecoms, Water, Electric, Transport.