Will Cruickshank has a multidisciplinary practice which includes sculpture, film, photography, and printmaking, alongside machines and participatory works. His recent practice has focused on making objects through the development of experimental machinery, materials, and production methods. This began in three grain silos in Essex, which he converted as studio spaces in 2015. Often repurposing equipment such as cement mixers, bikes, or potters wheels he has devised complex makeshift weaving machines, improvised lathes, printing presses, and water carving techniques.
What does a normal day in the studio look like for you?
There isn’t really a typical day as I have a few different ways of working. Weather can play a part in what happens, and it’s pretty cold now, so I’m trying to do things that keep me moving. Glues and paints don’t work well at these temperatures too, so I’ll be be avoiding using them. There’s tea and biscuits pretty constantly.
You often combine a variety of media for your sculptures, such as plaster and thread, which textures/materials are you most drawn to?
My materials combinations are mostly driven by experimentation, play, and very often accident. Sometimes a type of material can accumulate as a byproduct of another process and it hangs about the studio in piles. The plaster and thread mix is a good example of this. I had loads of tangled thread from failed wall hangings. It was too nice to throw away so I tried it in some concrete, then bit by bit over a year or two it has been refined into the plaster and thread mix I currently use. I’m still learning about the possibilities of how it can be cut, carved, and worked with. As far as textures go, I like my materials to show the marks of the processes they have been through. If something has been turned or carved with a chainsaw I wouldn’t choose to hide that rough surface by sanding it smooth.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Mainly from experimenting in studio. One thing tends to lead to another. The materials I work with and my machines often dictate how the work finishes. Both have their possibilities and I try to make them do what I think they are capable of, but we each take our turn in leading or resisting outcomes. Things rarely go exactly as expected and that is what makes it exciting. However it turns out, you have new information to work with for the next day. For me, this push and pull, is the work.
You built your own machinery to create your artwork, why did you decide to do this and what impact does it have on the pieces you create?
I’ve always enjoyed mechanical processes, and in the past some of my work has involved exhibiting kinetic devices in galleries. The thing that is slightly different now is that this mechanised part of the work exists in the studio and it helps steer the things I make. Many of the machines have evolved over years and now do very different things to what they were initially intended for.