Meet Millie Shenton-Jones, Interactive Arts student at Manchester School of Art, mainly working with text and political themes. Millie tells us about her course, her dream job and new projects she is working on.
What techniques/mediums do you mainly work with?
I’m mainly working in text at the moment, also digital illustration and sometimes sound.
Do you focus on any specific themes in your artwork? Any themes you have never tried but plan to?
My work is heavily influenced by the everyday, finding humour and pathos in the things that surround us. Politics is something I have only touched on, and I plan to explore further when I can stomach it.
What is your favourite project or piece of artwork you have ever created?
My obsessive/perfectionist nature means that I won’t do something if I don’t think I will do it well, so every project I’m currently working on becomes my favourite at the time I’m working on it (and also my least favourite depending on which stage I am at).
What inspired you to become an artist?
It just kind of happened naturally, there never seemed to be another option and I never wanted there to be.
Tell us about your course.
Nobody knows what Interactive Arts is, here’s the brief explanation I reel off to anyone that asks: it’s like fine art, but with more emphasis on experimentation and social engagement. It’s very conceptual, we’re encouraged to “ask why”, to question, to examine, to become experts on whatever we might be interested in and use that as a basis for our practice.
What is the most important thing you have learnt whilst doing your degree?
Be in the studio as much as you can, it’s where the good thinking and productivity happens. Also have a day off when you need to.
What is your dream job?
Is “reclusive poet” still a job?
Failing that I would definitely like to work creatively with words, whatever that means. Something that allows me to keep writing and making stuff that people will see and relate to in some way. It’s always lovely when someone really gets what you’re trying to say with your work, especially when it’s a bit niche.
Are you working on any new projects right now?
I’m currently working on a response to self-help/self improvement culture; books, lifestyle magazines, Jehovah’s Witness leaflets handed to you in the street etc, all claiming to right the wrongness in and around you, if you would only heed their words of wisdom. This is following on from my research into politics and projected authority; how and why certain people are held up as experts and thus qualified to tell the rest of us how we should be living our lives. I want to produce a satirical examination of these texts on a micro level, pick them apart until they become ridiculous and nonsensical.
Side note: Ironically the aim of satire is actually to shame the target into improvement… so who am i to criticise.
Who is your phenomenal woman and why?
Is it too lame to say my mum? Sally Shenton is the most badass woman I have ever met. Special mention to Yoko Ono, her book of instructions for music and performance art pieces, Grapefruit (first published in New York, 1964) is something that I am particularly inspired by. The writing is short, poetic, and playful in a way reflects the freedom and optimism of that particular time and place.
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