Interview: Zo Gardner

Zo Gardner has just finished her Foundation Diploma in Art course at Petroc and has received a place to study Hair, Make-up, and Prosthetics degree at University College London. Jum Fernandez catches up with her to find out about the concepts behind her amazing final piece and why she has chosen to go into Hair, Make-up, and Prosthetics.

Jum Fernandez: What course have you just completed?
Zo Gardner: Foundation Diploma in Art & Design.

What course have you applied to study at University?
I’ve been accepted onto a Hair, Make-up, and Prosthetics degree run by UAL.

What influenced you to study Hair, Make-Up and Prosthetics?
13240766_10207097388165508_4724607738961448050_nVery honestly, it was mainly out of spite. For Halloween a friend of mine wore this beautiful pair of prosthetic horns, created by a student at the same UAL course that I will go onto study at. They looked great. I was jealous of how well they were made, and felt the need to prove that despite my lack of experience and materials, that I could do the same. So out of spite I crafted a similar pair of horns out of Fimo clay, & gone off liquid latex. They turned out really well, and I’ve not stopped making prosthetics since.

Aside from petty rivalry, the course combines my adoration for film, literature, and art. Which are all mediums that I’ve struggled to choose between when it comes to furthering my education. In doing this course, I no longer have to make that decision. It’s expressive, practical, and a subject that I’m genuinely excited to study.

Your final piece was entitled “Family Values”, could you tell us a little about the concept behind it?
Part of our brief is to create a project to do with our ‘vocational choice’. Since mine is media makeup, I decided to make concept art for a TV series or film. This is when you create the world in which the story is set without yet adding a narrative, as scripting, filming, and post production on top of world building would land me 2 years over my deadline.

The concept initially revolved around a critique of the nuclear family, for its installation of gender roles, an unquestioning respect for authority, and for it’s support of a patriarchal power structure. I linked the concept very heavily to a 50’s era aesthetic to question our lack of social change in the past 70 odd years. This was fuelled by recent events and movements, that still echo the message of social inequality today; such as a new wave of feminism, #blacklivesmatter, and the general everyday micro aggressions that help enforce hetronormity, cissexism, class divides, and everything else. I also made it futuristic, and so crafted alien-like prosthetics to signal this, futurism was important to this idea because doubled with a 50’s appearance, it highlights the fact that not enough social change has happened.

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I had been sitting on this concept for a good few months before I could even start my project, and I was bored of it before I had even begun. After researching different family models, I read about the emergence of a ‘network’ type family. This is where members do not have to be of blood relation, they can be steps, half’s, ex’s, adopted, friends, or sperm donors. Inspired by this I changed my concept to critique our culture through example. The family is fronted by an elderly lesbian couple, and features an adopted child, a single mother, an gender queer character, a polygamous partnership, and mixed relationships. I photographed the ‘network’ family with full alien-like prosthetics, in an old council house, featuring a 70’s aesthetic. The 1970’s was chosen for it’s liberal associations, and the activism that took place within it, while I chose a working class setting to represent our leading role in social change. I kept it futuristic to say the opposite of my initial idea: that we have the opportunity to change the way that we treat one another, and that with time, education, and acceptance, we can deconstruct our patriarchal society into something better -even if we look like aliens by the time we get there. This most importantly starts with changing our family values.

Looking back at the final piece, I can imagine this concept art as being the basis for a hilariously mundane sit-com. Where the fact that they’re aliens is never fully addressed, but played upon as a running joke. Something similar to the Royle Family, but fronted by an elderly lesbian couple.

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