Oliver Braid Portrait

Oliver Braid is an artist living in Glasgow. He studied at Falmouth College of Arts and Glasgow School of Art. He has recently exhibited I’ll Look Forward To It at Collective, Edinburgh as part of their New Work Scotland Programme (2011) and My Five New Friends, his first large scale solo exhibition, at The Royal Standard, Liverpool (2012). Throughout 2012 he co-hosted the weekly pop-philosophy radio show with the artist Ellie Harrison, the Ellie & Oliver Show, through CultureLab Radio, Newcastle. As part of the Ellie & Oliver Show in 2012 he co-presented five special radio shows for Edinburgh Art Festival and co-curated a special radio show festival for Glasgay. He was a founding member of the therapy group for artists, Artists Anonymous. In January 2013 he will present a new solo exhibition, Snorlax Beanbag, for the Intermedia Gallery at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow and embark on a four-month long production residency at Triangle, Marseille, sponsored by Patricia Fleming Projects and Creative Scotland.

In the lead up to his new exhibition Oliver has been reflecting on his last fifteen years of making artwork and how his theory of art and human relationships developed synchronically between the ages of 13 to 28. For the past ten weeks Oliver has been presenting short weekly essays through his Tumblr that examine the ‘Top Ten’ most important artworks that he produced between 1997 and 2012, their impact on his studio work and their influence on his life. For Central Station, Oliver has selected an edited version of these texts and images, presenting an overview of his process to date of ‘becoming an artist’.

Full copies of these essays, along with regular updates on Oliver’s other work, are available through his Tumblr, whilst a more studio-centric overview of his current practice can be found on his website.

Extracts from Oliver Braid’s Top Ten (1997-2012)

Hot Dogs by Oliver Braid

Number 10. Hot Dogs. 1998. Oil on canvas board.
“In order to correctly capture the forms of the women featured in this painting my mother and I undertook a life model field trip (a package holiday to Spain) where she took photographs of me on the beach, slyly positioned in front of larger ladies enjoying the hot weather… Around the time that I was making this painting I had an argument with one of my best friends over a piece of fried chicken. I had been at my friend’s house for dinner and her mother had served an unequal portion of chicken wings.  As I was the guest it was decided by my friend’s mother that I should receive the additional wing. Arriving at school the next day I discovered my friend was no longer speaking to me, leaving me to speculate that the harsh treatment had its roots in my unquestioning chicken consumption. Upon recounting this event to my mother that evening she decided a just retribution must occur, suggesting I should take a bag of frozen chicken wings into school the following day to throw at my friend. She may even have gone specifically to Co-op that evening to purchase the reprimanding wings required for the action.  The next day, as instructed, I left the house with a bag of frozen chicken wings, but en-route to school I ‘chickened’ out (or arrived at a saner solution) and threw the wings away in a dustbin.”

Fake Tattoo Drawings by Oliver Braid

Number 8. Fake Tattoo Drawings. 2004. Felt-tip pen on skin.
“At this stage in my life I was still quite scared of men. One of the reasons I never made larger or more solid artwork was that I was trying to avoid the workshop, where I would have to explain my ideas to (and maybe work with) a male technician. It wasn’t really until late 2006 that I developed ‘strategies’ to enable me to cope with and talk to men without feeling scared or needy… One evening, when I must have been drinking, I persuaded a couple of my male friends to allow me to draw tattoos on their bodies in felt-tip. I have tried to obscure their identities in the images. One of them allowed me to go as far as drawing on his chest and I even seem to have a vague memory of him wearing only his boxer shorts. This was part of another very elongated period of my life during which I was catastrophically bad at distinguishing between acts of male friendship and inclinations towards homo-romanticism… These difficulties with relating to other men and my occasionally unethical attempts to combat this came to greatly motivate several of my more recent works between 2009 and 2012. As I move towards 2013, where I hope to replace pre-determined rational ‘strategies’ with more intuitive and passionate approaches to experience, it seems appropriate to mark this earlier work; a small, drunken gesture that was the butterfly to the hurricane.”

Second Year Studio by Oliver Braid

Number 7. Second Year Studio. 2005. Studio.
“Quite early on into the first term I began to notice that neither of the other two students that were allocated this studio seemed to use the space. After becoming accustomed enough to the spacious settings, I quickly began to display work and build experiments over every surface available in the room, every desk, every wall; I built an installation on the ceiling and moved a large blue paddling pool into the centre of the floor space.

Occasionally I would come into the studio and find one of the other students in there. I would find him sitting amongst all of my things and I would always apologise for how outrageously I had advanced over the space. He would always tell me it was fine and things would carry on as normal.  This relationship was working out perfectly until one day, without my knowledge, this other student had a tutorial in the space with the head of third year. Afterwards the tutor came to find me to say that he wanted to talk to me about the studio. I was flattered to hear he had been admiring my ambitions until I quickly realised that he was actually very angry with me. Apparently I had dominated the space to such an extent that other students felt they could no longer work in there. I tried to reason with him, explaining my theory that allowance of space should really be relative to the amount of time spent in the space. As Cher from Clueless would say, I was ‘brutally rebuffed’.”

Jamie Radcliffe by Oliver Braid

Number 3. Jamie Radcliffe: The Exhibition. 2009. Ultimate Romantic Gesture.
“Continuing to respond to Quentin Crisp’s provocation that art did not help people to express themselves I wanted to try and find a way that ‘being an artist’ could help me better improve my own relationships with other people. I had probably also been watching the film Never Been Kissed and was inspired by the closing scene where Reese Witherspoon waits for the man of her dreams to rescue her from a baseball pitch. So, yes, when the exhibition came out I described it as an ‘Ultimate Romantic Gesture’. Despite this, I can’t pretend that I went into Jamie Radcliffe: The Exhibition completely innocently. At 24, how could I ever have thought that sending a PowerPoint of Jamie’s photographs and personal information (secretly downloaded from Facebook) to 100 artists and asking them to make a work in response to him was going to go down well? My only defence is optimism – but I was not unaware of the ‘naughtier’ side to this work.

It’s important for me to admit that, because after this exhibition I began to use words such as ‘naughty’ and the excuse of ‘misguided optimism’ and ‘failed seriousness’ as a way to behave exactly how I wanted. Over the last year I have been trying to face up to this lapse of responsibility and address it seriously, before this approach to working ruins my personal life completely.

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