City Lit Fine Art tutor Monika Kita recently caught up with artist and former student Lito Apostolakou to talk about current art projects and her time as a fine art student at City Lit.
Can you tell us about the art residency, you have just been awarded?
The residency is an initiative of Westminster City Council and Art of London to activate prime located, vacant retail sites in the Piccadilly Circus / Leicester Square footprint with live art whilst supporting emerging artists and encouraging audience engagement. My proposal Clothes You’ll Never Wear has been endorsed by the selection panel which included curators from the National Gallery and Arts Council England and it’s about building a participatory art installation which challenges the function of the retail space as a site of fast fashion consumption and transforms it into an immersive workshop and creative hub. We will be using waste materials to make garment-style sculptures based on personal stories, memory and identity. It is a site responsive installation with a focus on non-commercialised inclusive participation, creative use of waste and production of not-for-sale garments. After about a month the work will be recycled or returned to participants.
How did you come about it? What made you interested in the opportunity?
It was a fellow artist from my art group made me aware of this open call and I dived in and applied. I’m drawn to responding and interacting with spaces as an artist and also have been exploring the idea of inviting participation in my art process as a way of enriching it and disrupting it at the same time. That the Clothes You’ll Never Wear positions itself in an empty prime retail site informs the work on many levels. On one level it can become a critique of the environment it is in by subverting its function. On another level, the openness of the work unsettles the role of the artist as an author in control.
What is the relationship between your recent practice and the collaborative aspects of the residency? Are there any links or parallels you want to explore?
There are strong links between the Clothes and The Archive of Daydreams installation which has been living inside my home studio since March 2020. The Archive is a work that began as an autobiographical exploration of domestic interiors and grew to interact with other people’s narratives. It is in a state of almost constant reconfiguring as it is readjusted within the room and responding to participants’ stories about memories of rooms. The structures that make up the work are made of waste or found materials and look ephemeral. The installation will also be shown in the space it is created supplanting the need for a traditional gallery venue. So, there are common threads between the two works with a large dollop of unknown thrown in.
You did a Fine Art course at City Lit in 2020. How do you remember your time at City Lit?
The City Lit Fine Art course (CLFA) put me firmly on the path of finding my voice as an artist and gave me the space to think what I am about. Most memorable for me will always be my second year, most of which was spent in lockdown, with our classes done online. This has been a hugely creative time with meaningful feedback from tutors and strong connections formed between fellow students. We’ve learned more about each other’s work than we’d ever have done and Chris Hough’s dedication and commitment to the course kept it all together and running. During 2020, my whole front room was turned into an installation which became an ongoing project. CLFA was pivotal not only in my personal artistic development but in meeting a group of artists which became a group of friends and a support network all in one.
How do you feel about the City Lit art community?
I’ll always have a soft spot for City Lit! Through the years, a number of tutors have been instrumental to my development as an artist and they will always be close to my heart. The art community is so inclusive and creative. We’ve got so close during the lockdown and I feel we saw each other through it. At the end of the CLFA course I’ve started hosting an Art Salon which still runs on Zoom every Tuesday to this day and it’s such a supportive virtual space. We’re all different in our approaches to art but we support each other and have great discussions and crits of each other’s work. Collaborations have happened within the group and there is more to come as we are hopefully returning to normality
Thank you for our chat and all the best with the project. Looking forward to hearing more about its progress in the near future.
I am looking forward to my City Lit friends joining me in Clothes You’ll Never Wear in 2-4 Princes Arcade, Piccadilly, just across the road from the Royal Academy, from 7th June to 18th July.