Ringelpiez, 2022, by Marlon Wobst I Felted wool, 48 x 39 cm
Photo by def image
We are delighted to welcome Marlon Wobst as our third artist in residence. Marlon is based in Berlin, and is represented by Galerie Maria Lund in Paris and Schwarz Contemporary in Berlin.
Marlon works with painting, felt-making, and clay. His work often depicts simple subjects and situations of everyday life: intimate body representations with an undertone of warmth, desire, and longing, yet soft and fresh in their appearance with pastel colors and muted shades, evoking at the same time a sense of distance and anonymity to these otherwise intimate situations.
Marlon has long worked with painting and clay. Felt making wasn't a medium he was familiar with, until he discovered it by chance five years ago:
"I saw a pillow cover on a sofa at a friend's 'place, made out of felt. I loved how it looked I asked who made the cover. My friend told me it was made by her 4 y o son. At that point I was hooked, and got obsessed with the idea of making a two-dimensional painting out of sheep wool. My mother in law helped me a first, she had felted a lot before, hats and slippers. You need soapy water to make felt, so she took a tray to collect the water and I made my first felt work in an oven tray."
Marlon's first felt work depicted some people in bathing suits in water, standing arm in arm. The images he felts are always very much related to what he would paint.
"I have a very strong connection to bodies. Why? Because I have one myself and am surrounded by them. Also, everyday moments inspire me... like someone putting on their socks. But I want to keep it open. Most people should be able to relate to what I do. I try not to focus on one specific person, but to approach it as a general, relatable situation."
For Marlon, it's not so much about the story, as it is about making an image:
"The image is the most important. It’s about painting, surfaces, colors. I always found drawing complicated, because it's very hard to do it very well. Painting is easier. You just need a big brush and some color. Painting is fun! The criteria of a finished work is when I’m surprised: when it went where I didn’t know it would go. I love being surprised by my own work."
Marlon's relationship with art goes way back. His mother is a painter, and he used to do graffiti.
"I loved making grafitti. There is a big traditon for it in Mainz, but I just figured it out myself as a teenager and it became a thing to do, paint grafitti and listen to hip hop. It felt very free, and very fun."
However, it wasn't always appreciated. In fact, it was when he was caught by police painting graffiti on a public wall in his hometown, Mainz, at the age of 16, that Marlon discovered oil painting:
"As a punishment, I had to do some sort of social work or attend a course. I chose painting classes, and got really hooked on it!"
Eventually Marlon realized that art was the way to go, but the way was not so easy initially.
"I applied 13 times to art school before getting accepted! And finally got into a small art school in Mainz at the age of 24. I did the first three years there and then went to Berlin to study at the Universität der Künste."
Spending time at Ti-Pi residency is an opportunity for Marlon to focus fully on one tecnique.
"As a father and a husband, I normally have limited hours in the art studio. Being here is a fantastic opportunity to have two weeks in a row to be fully focussed on one technique and work 24/7. It's great!"
In the Studio
with Isiah Magsino
"My best writing happens when I'm feeling exhausted, am going through a difficult time, or feeling stupidly sentimental."
Medium: Writing Based: New York City
Artist in Residence: August '22
After several years of writing about art, beauty, and fashion for a variety of titles including Vogue, W, Vanity Fair, Town and Country, and Architectural Digest, Isiah is now embarking on a journey of personal writing. He likes to write about the beautiful things in his life, whether it’s a couture collection or an exciting art exhibition. Having used his writing before to support Ti-Pi's first exhibition, we are excited to work with Isiah again - this time, to support his own creative writing!
At Ti-Pi, Isiah is working on a collection of personal essays exploring the idea of beauty and its underbelly, while reflecting upon his own role as a foreigner in Paris, where he has spent most of 2022.
For this occasion, I have asked Isiah a couple of questions in order to get to know more about what's behind this fascinating, creative, and driven person.
Isiah grew up in a talented family, first in Santiago (Minnesota), and from his 14th in Las Vegas, among painters, designers, musicians, and singers. His grandmother would organize talent shows where Isiah was often the designated singer, but he claims that he wasn't any good at music. In fact, he says he was bad at most crafts, except sometimes painting:
"My best paintings are from when I was high, which I hardly ever am anymore. Actually, I’m awful with crafts. I’m not good with my hands, I can't build or create. And I’m not musically inclined, though I think I have beautiful slender fingers which I wish I could put to use on the piano. "
Isiah discovered that he was good at writing when the Head of the Communications Department at his high school, where he was already the editor of the local school magazine, told him he was very talented and encouraged him to continue in this field.
"At first, I was hesitant, because I almost failed English and just wanted to be drunk and hang out with boys. But, I’ve always found solace in words when I needed them most. As a high schooler who would steal his parent’s cars just for the thrill, or escape on adventures and feel lonely on my journeys, I always found comfort in phrases and stories. So I ended up trusting her encouragement."
From an early age, Isiah felt obsessed with the good and bad sides of glamour and beauty:
"I’ve always loved texts that are very poetic without being overly flowery. To write about something devastating in a very beautiful way, that would be an ideal signature" says Isiah who quickly grew in the field of writing and alrady has an impressive history of articles behind him.
What is for you a good place and time to write?
"I’m a night owl. I am awful in the morning and need 3 hours to wake up and be ready for the world. I'm usually not really awake until noon. This is rather unusual in New York City, but no matter how hard I try to wake up early, I just can’t.
I usually like to sit and write somewhere in the city late at night, when all is dark, yet, in a space that is not confined by walls: along one of the canals in Ghent, or by the Seine River in Paris. I think I’m quite shy when it comes to writing, so I do it best when I’m alone and in silence. At cafes, people are too loud and too fascinating. If I’m around people I tend to start writing because I want to look cool and mysterious. That’s when my worst writing is done. When I’m alone, I’m free of judgment or voices. This is when I’m sure what I’ve written down is truly authentic. That these thoughts are mine, and mine only."
Can you say a bit about the writing you are working on here at Ti-Pi?
"With my primary work in journalism, I’m often writing features and profiles on others. This is wonderful in many ways: spotlighting young creatives, uplifting communities, and, essentially, offering a bit of escapism through beautiful things.
On the other hand, here at the residency, I'm exercising my essay-writing muscles and I hope to connect with readers on a deeper level. This is very much a personal endeavor as the essays are told in the first person and speak on a lot of coming-to-age experiences that are both beautiful and painful. These texts are focused on my own observations and my own emotions, rather than (mostly) objective reporting."
Do you start with a specific theme, or do you discover that as you write? And do you have a form and length in mind, or does the structure evolve during the process of writing?
"I never work with a plan. I hate plans and I’m awful at making them. I just wonder a lot...I always have. Outside of the moments when I socialize with others, I am often alone, thinking about silly things, having endless internal conversations in my head about my interactions with other people.
Oftentimes these thoughts will be forged very randomly into one text: a song lyric, something I’ll hear from a friend, something I’ve seen through a shop window… I don't plan to write about a theme, instead, I write from what feels illustrious in that moment to me.
Also, I’m quite emotional and sensitive which is such a double-edged sword. I can be in a beautiful baroque room or see an old couple and have this urge to cry. In either happiness or sadness, I do not know. But the feelings are quite intense. I used to stray away from them because many people today seem to act blasé about everything because they think it makes them look cool. I don’t think that’s necessarily a lovely way to live. As someone once told me, one may be indifferent to things, but so are rocks!
My best writing happens under two circumstances. The first is when I’m going through a difficult time, or when I'm feeling stupidly sentimental. The second is when I’m exhausted. That being said, some of my most beautiful personal essays that I’ve already self-published have been written at 2 or 3 in the morning. I usually go on a walk and listen to music and then I’ll have this annoying itch to write. In Paris, this happens right after a cigarette. I’ll sit on the sidewalk and stare at the street glow and be like “tonight is the night I head directly to bed” and it never is. It isn't very different here in Ghent!"
What makes writing special and worthwhile?
"Within the collection of my leather journals are numbered phrases from books that resonate with me the most. My favorite is from “At Swim, Two Boys” by Jamie O’Neil.
“In a dreamy way he saw the sea and the way the sea was brighter than the sky when it rained. How the drops leapt on the surface like a myriad hungry fish. And a boy swimming at the Forty Foot, or maybe two boys swimming, the only figures in all the scene while all round the rain fell and the church bells tolled for Mass.”
At the time when I read this, I remembered how beautiful I thought the imagery was and how special the thread of words illustrated this wonderful mysterious story about two young boys and their lives together.
I find reading and writing to have this very unique power that makes us feel so special while also making us feel like our experiences are not unique to this world."
How do you hope to develop further as a writer in the future?
"I just want to be a beautiful writer that may speak on universal experiences from a unique perspective. I hope people can relate to it in some capacity. Many of our experiences are not special. But, I hope that my writing can perhaps offer solace, just like other writing has done for me."
In the Studio
with Sara Kelly
Weaver Sara Kelly Finds a home in
Color and Community
Medium: Weaving Based: South East London
Artist in Residence: April '22
In the Studio
with Marlon Wobst
"The image is the most important.
It’s about painting, surfaces, colors..."
Medium: Felt making Based: Berlin
Artist in Residence: September '22
It all starts with a color palette; A combination of colors that corresponds with the brief Sara Kelly drafts for herself before embarking on a new design. The chosen colors can be picked from anything, but the weaver finds a particular fascination with the link between colors and emotions. “Recently, I did a piece whose color was based on traumatic events that I can’t process in my brain,” Kelly explains to Ti-Pi Exhibition Space. “It’s sort of like channeling emotions into a piece of design, and converting emotion into color.”
She then moves on to the actual design of the patterns that will soon manifest into her woven pieces which emerge shortly after a few painting sessions. “I go through iterations of painting to see what flows and what happens without really thinking about it. I often chop things up and mix things together. It is a long process and the hardest part, but also the most fun, I think.”
This ritualistic and meditative process manifests itself into a plethora of tapestries and rugs designed and handwoven by Kelly. Made out of a long Rolodex of fabrics (wools, cotton, and more), these woven creations often boast geometrical designs that feel both controlled and spontaneous. Though she mentions perhaps a somber example of how her colors are chosen, one may never really tell. The colors within her work are often vibrant and striking and elicit warmth and comfort. At least, from one perspective. And, perhaps, that’s the point.
“Color is such a powerful thing. Or even the lack of color,” she says. “A lot of my work explores blending different colors and seeing how many iterations can come about. It’s fascinating really– how your eyes perceive color differently than how others do, and how they change with angle. And also fabrics! The same color can look totally different on linen than it will on wool.”
“With architecture, you might not see a completed project for years. Whereas weaving, it’s often shorter. I think it’s better for my mental health, honestly. I need constant change.”
While her curiosity continued to bubble, Kelly took baby steps by enrolling in her first weaving class. Then, she’d come across a weaver based in London that further exposed her to the practice. But, it was a four-month excursion to Mexico that would finally push her over the edge and pursue weaving full time.
“I witnessed the culture of crafting and their use of natural colors, and was in awe. Seeing weaving outside of the UK was enough for me to realize that it was something that I wanted to pursue.”
Originally trained in architecture and working in the field for nearly seven years, Sara Kelly’s fascination with tapestries began “four or five” years ago when her fixation with the craft led to a bit of research. “I found it all extremely interesting. I had gone my whole life not knowing or even considering how so many things around us were made such as rugs and clothes.” Architecture, though alluring in its own ways, was never truly fulfilling for her. See, Kelly craved using her hands to create, something that weaving certainly offered. Plus, the creation process is much quicker.
Now well into her trade, Kelly cites Celia Pym, another textile artist, as one of her inspirations. “One of her works, in particular, was crafted throughout her trip to Japan. She went without anything and collected yarn as she traveled. The end result was sort of results of her journey.”
But, her inspiration expands more than just the aesthetics. In fact, it lies primarily behind an underlying factor in weaving: community.
“When I went to Mexico and Guatemala, I was really inspired by the weavers there because I never considered how community plays a role in weaving,” she begins. “Before, it felt like I just needed a loom and the space. It felt like a very solitary craft. But, I saw the weavers there working outside of their homes and in their communities; bouncing off ideas, relying on each other for help, and, simply, socializing.”
Now, as the first artist residency at the Ti-Pi Exhibition Space, Kelly hopes to continue experimenting with different materials and different techniques while researching what these practices looked like traditionally in Belgium.
“This morning, I walked around feeling a bit anxious. Just because it’s my first time here and I wasn’t really sure of where to go, what to do,” she says. “I kind of just walked around and enjoyed the environment. Ghent has this special feeling. I feel like if I were to start working outside, people would stop and engage with me. It’s all about that: bridging art and community.”