splint: thank you so much for being our 3rd interview my love, tell us about you!! How do you fit into the creative world?
Tabitha: So I do a lot of creative work… I feel like if i had too I would describe myself as a Visual Artist. At university, I am currently specialising in photography but I feel like photography is quite confining, so it means a specific thing to specific people, whereas visual art for me encapsulates more of what I do. I do photography, I do film photography, but I also do moving image and digital stuff. I do a lot of production, and some people probably wouldn’t call that photography because it’s not pure, but yes, I think I am a Visual Artist.
splint: that’s so exciting, where do you get the inspiration to do the things you do? I follow your work and it’s just totally unique, and now in Nasty Women’s Empowerment exhibition can we just say???!?!!
(Tabitha screams) (haha)
Tabitha: It’s a combination of so many different things, and that’s definitely something I have just learnt about art – that it doesn’t matter how hard you try to say it’s about something specific, you’ll make something and then realise it has so many influences from things that you didn’t even think about. So I started with only doing film photography at university, and I felt really restricted but then I started thinking about the Digital VS Analogue… classic, everyone’s talking about it. I began looking at the selfie… It was quite a logistical decision to use myself, because it was really hard to find people and it started to become really therapeutic for me.
splint: we just think the work you do is so wonderful, I mean, what was that video I just watched of you walking around in a white space, I think it was your moving image piece?
Tabitha: yeah so, I am really interested in the idea of negative space. So like a big, nothingness that actually has you know, really implicated the work. In a way I have got myself in there but instead of feeling lost in it, I feel quite grounded. It’s meant to be quite fun. It is all about feminism, like it is all about being a women. A lot of people ask me “oh, what character are you playing?” It’s not a character at all, it’s me. It’s about being sexual and being okay with that. The studio space for me is kind of commenting on editorial language in magazines, and taking that, trying to use it on reflection of myself.
splint: amazing! You worked for Noctis Magazine during LFW 17 didn’t you? How was that for you, how did you find the position?
Tabitha: It was so fun. I came to London with all of these ideas about what I wanted to do, so I did things like a PR Marketing internship, which sucked, I did some set designing where I met Sophie, the fashion editor for Noctis. Working for Noctis was a wonderful opportunity but it kind of made me realise that I really didn’t want to work in fashion… It’s difficult because there is definitely an air around fashion week which suggests everything is about the way you look and I really felt that I couldn’t match up to that. Fashion is really exciting, but I have just found recently that I haven’t been as excited about big designers, the models they use are all prominently white skinny girls. There are exceptions and it is being talked about more, but I find it really hard to be involved in.
splint: yeah, I worked at Amy Thomson’s presentation during AW18 LFW and I noticed a refreshing diversity in the models, I do think it’s starting to change, it’s just apparently taking a while…
Tabitha: the smaller designs often feel more diverse, it’s just with more well known you designers you get a kind of token girl or boy that is purposely there to say we’re all about diversity, if that makes sense? There are some really beautiful designers who have hired beautifully diverse people, such as Pam Hogg’s catwalk a couple of years ago…
splint: so, you’re in your third year at Goldsmiths now, currently working on your degree show for the summer, yes?
Tabitha: yeah, it’s coming along really well. I feel lucky because I really know what I am doing. I’m trying to make a Virtual Reality environment. For my degree show I really want to have a physical piece, and make a kind of immersive experience, which will incorporate the pictures that I have had and other things to be revealed.. The show will be in June / July time, so watch out for it.
splint: that’s so great Tabitha. So, let’s PLEASE talk about the fact your work is now going to be featured in Nasty Women’s Empowerment exhibition? How did you even get into that?! What is it about?
Tabitha: Nasty Women started in America after Trump called Hillary Clinton a ‘nasty woman.’ It became this cult of arms for women, and it’s been repurposed in a lot of different areas, the exhibition is on International Women’s Day. It is in collaboration with Nasty Women NYC and many many more that I can’t remember the names of. It’s together with Creative Debuts which is a platform for emerging artists. One of their sayings is ‘buy art from living artists.’ Creative Debuts is actually founded by Goldsmiths Alumni, I literally followed them on instagram and saw this advertised, I applied with the thought of I’m never going to get in, but, somehow I did. So yes, hugely exciting and daunting.
splint: having it on International Women’s Day, running through that weekend is a pretty great time to showcase your work right?
Tabitha: yes, it is, it’s,so great. It’s like the first big exhibition that i am doing and it just feels crazy. Last year it was 3,000 people and they’ve had to extend the days this year so….
splint: how do you motivate yourself to get it all done? I know so many women who really want to do something, but struggle to find the drive or support to make things happen, if you understand what I mean?
Tabitha: good question. I know that I have always found immense joy from making things, photoshop, writing, and I have just always actively done something, it’s kind of been there for me. The best way you can learn, is just by doing. Recently, I have learnt that I am a real perfectionist. It hinders me in all aspects of my life. I have had so many times where I feel like I’ve created shit pieces of work, but the thing is, those pieces are SO important to the final product you are going to release. It just does not matter. If you get the opportunity to do something, just say yes, but also don’t feel pressured to do anything that isn’t right for you, if that makes sense? Also, do not do unpaid internships. Ha. Noctis is a passion product, it doesn’t pay, it is a way in as unpaid experiences often are, and I do find that the fashion industry is really hard to get into without any contacts. I just think there’s nothing cooler than doing your thing… so cliche.
splint: have you ever had any struggles being a woman in the creative industry?
Tabitha: for me, being a woman is what drives my work. That is what my work is about. It’s about being sexual and confident. So, I have these recurring pink boots that I wear, which will be in my degree show, and I am currently working with pink sex toys. Ha. This sounds really corny, but I just want to talk about sex. It was really the most horrific and scary thing for me as I was growing up and I just felt so inexperienced. I always felt that I had to be really ladylike. I was never able to talk really frankly about sex to a women. I then kind of realised that sex is just great. To me, it’s one of the most fascinating things. I have had really tough experiences with it, as have a lot of women, and it is only now that I realise how much those experiences have made me want to say fuck it, and just talk about it, you know? I just really wanted my art to be about whatever I wanted to personally say. I thought it was going to be difficult, but actually I really don’t care.
splint: I think we live in a world where a lot of women find it almost frightening to be sexual, and to talk about sex openly…
Tabitha: yes, they absolutely do. In my work, I can be really sexual. But I do understand being frightened, I notice a huge difference in going out with my partner and when I am out alone, or with a group of girls.
Tabitha: I love my partner. He is fucking great. If I am with him, I don’t get cat called, which really just says everything. They respect him more than me. When I went out last week, for the first time in ages, I wore a really tight, short skirt because I was feeling really fucking sexy, and I am not joking, I had been out for 2 minutes and some guy wolf whistled at me. I think that we still have a really long way to go, but I do think this is a profound moment for women’s equality. I try really hard to speak up about stuff and I really think my course has been so great for that. We are always looking at female artists as well as male artists. However, he studies literature and he often looks back at all of his reading and finds that 90% of the novels are written by white men. It is just so upsetting. What has happened to women, what has happened to all of the marginalised black women in literature?
It is also so important not to be antagonistic, we really need to stop saying all men are shit. I really do feel that men are suffering from that stigma as well. We’re going for equality you know? Some men are really great, I have one, he’s a good egg.
splint: Tabitha, this has been a bloody pleasure. Thank you so much for this.
Tabitha: wouldn’t it be really funny if in two years time there was something that read ‘Tabitha Carver, not an artist, not a woman, not interested in solving inequality!’