Growing up in Scotland, Gavin Mottram discovered at a young age a talent for drawing as a means of personal expression and as a way of exploring a preoccupation with what he saw on television. A preoccupation that, in a much broader sense, still compels him to this day.
Mottram is an extremely versatile and in-demand multimedia artist, with talent and experience ranging across various disciplines, from the fine arts to filmmaking. He recently had a personal exhibition at the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles, showcasing a collection of experimental works that focus on the relationship between the ‘screen’ and the body/social performance. With an array of pieces that incorporate the use of analogue film, digital video and new media technologies, some of the works were evolutions of things Mottram had been working on for some time, and some were also the beginning of new work that he hopes to develop in the future.
“The opportunity to be involved with the Echo Park Film Center is, to me, a great one, as the center is a hub for experimental filmmaking within the city of LA, dedicated to the practice of analogue filmmaking whilst at the same time is a space that embraces new technologies and interdisciplinary practices. EPFC is an inclusive organization committed to providing access to film and video resources to the local community, with a special focus on ‘at risk’ youth, but the center also has a wider influence and impact amongst communities beyond Los Angeles,” said Mottram.
Another of the highlights of Mottram’s career came just last year, when he worked at the world-renowned Gemini G.E.L. in West Hollywood, an artists’ workshop and publisher of limited-edition prints and sculptures. Gemini is iconic, as a gallery and workshop that has collaborated with and published work by some of the most influential artists of the past 50 years, such as Robert Rauschenberg, Ellsworth Kelly, David Hockney, Vija Celmins, John Baldessari, Anne Hamilton and Tacita Dean to name only a few.
At Gemini, Mottram worked as part of a small group to produce and edition printed works for Richard Serra. These works make use of traditional printmaking techniques of Intaglio, Lithography and Screen Printing, but are utilized in ways that expand how these mediums are traditionally used, augmented by contemporary digital image making techniques, creating unique hybrid works that are not bound by conventions, and that go on to enter prestigious private and public/museum collections internationally.
Mottram’s job was, for the most part, to edition prints that had already been resolved and approved by the artist for publication, as opposed to assisting the artist personally in generating new work. However, due to the experimental nature of the Serra prints, Mottram said that “to have to ‘troubleshoot’ and use ingenuity, both technically and creatively at times is unavoidable whilst working with the processes and materials in the manner that is being explored at Gemini”, which is where Mottram’s creative ability truly shone. “What is most valuable in this setting is to abandon traditional procedures and to try things that might seem crude in the context of classical printmaking approaches”.
Being part of such an esteemed group of artists to have worked at Gemini gives Mottram a unique sense of pride. Having first-hand experience in such a celebrated part of the art world was informative, but also fun for the artist as, he said, “Ultimately, my job consisted of making marks on paper which, alongside constantly seeing works of art being produced and going up on the walls, never fails to ignite my own contemplations and desires to generate something.” Mottram hopes to have more experiences of showing the world his work in the near future, and he knows that a career in fine art can be difficult at times, but, he said, “for the chance to be part of a community of creative individuals, engaging critically with the world around them and contributing to contemporary, forward thinking ideas, it is worth it.”