Als die irische Waterford Distillery für ihren ersten Standardwhisky, den Waterford’s The Cuvée, für die Gestaltung der Label die Zusammenarbeit mit der irischen Künstlerin Leah Hewson bekanntgab, wollten wir genauer wissen, wie sich so eine Zusammenarbeit gestaltet und haben daher um ein Interview mit der Künstlerin gebeten.
Leah Hewson ist nicht nur in Irland eine Größe: Mit Solo-Ausstellungen, zum Beispiel in der Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin und in der The Hillsboro Fine Art gallery, hat sie ihren Ruf begründet und durch Arbeitsaufenthalte in Berlin oder New York international ausgebaut. Sie gewann zahlreiche Auszeichnungen in Irland und anderen Ländern.
Hier unsere Fragen an Leah Hewson und ihre Antworten, für die wir uns bei ihr herzlich bedanken:
How did the collaboration come along?
I received an email into my inbox one day, and was delighted that work was coming in over the first lockdown. I had a few extensive zoom meetings with the guys and Mark Reynier (CEO & Founder of Waterford) to which I got an in depth description and understanding of the company, as well as a good insight into how they work just through observing the way they interacted with each other. They were all very easy going, respectful of each other, and very excited and proud of the product and process of Waterford Whisky. I instantly got drawn in and was very flattered to be asked to take on such a task! I always enjoy collaborating because I work isolated a lot of the time, so collaboration is an interesting way to explore new challenges and to push myself and my work.
What was your thought process between the briefing and the realization of the artwork? Did you try different approaches or was it intuitive?
I knew pretty early on that I would have to pay close attention to detail within the process and do my best to emulate the attention and care that Waterford Distillery upholds with every aspect of what they produce. The sensual experience of drinking the whisky versus the scientific and progressive nature of the terroir approach was something that resonated with me. I wanted to approach it with not only a multi layered aesthetic, but a multilayered and complex methodology to mirror all of these elements that seem to stand alone but also work in harmony. I wanted to create something that spoke of transformation so I began by creating computer generated images that were created from nothing. I then wanted to bring these technologically formed images back into painting but with a twist. I am always interested in the perception of things so I wanted to think about the sensory overload that you get when tasting the whisky. To create the same effect visually, I spliced up the two images and painted them one on top of the other in strips. The visual brain becomes flooded with information and so can only make sense of some parts at any given time. The red and green transparent stripes that overlay these create vibration while the neon acts as a sharp mischievous rebellion across the plain of the painting.
For you as an artist, is it difficult to have a “client” compared to the way you normally work?
It can be challenging sometimes to engage in a more corporate project, however, with Waterford Distillery I feel that they really understand the creative process and so trusted me and my ability from the start. They explained everything they do and then gave me the space to create something in response. In conversations with Ned, who is the head distiller, we have found crossovers within our processes and methodologies which is really interesting to me. His passion for what he does is infectious and inspiring.
Have you tried The Cuvée before or whilst working on the painting? If so, what are your thoughts about it?
Ned came up to the studio recently to do some painting with me which was a brilliant experience! He really got stuck in! He brought a basket full of different blends and we tried them all as we were painting, it was a lovely experience blending the two together at the same time and just trying to find descriptive enough words for the whisky. He brought a sample of the Cuvée so I was very excited to try that, needless to say it was delicious and I could taste all of the divergent notes from the other whiskeys at different times. Ned taught me a lot on how to really taste whisky properly so I now really understand and appreciate the depth and longevity of the flavour. I think they have created something truly special with this Cuvée, and I’m not just being biased!
Finally, let’s turn things the other way round: If you would have to brief a whiskey maker to produce a whiskey that reflects your art, what would you tell her/him?
Great question! I think it would have to be something which was full of high pitched flavours to begin. Energetic, zingy, popping candy, citrusy with a bit of an edge that drops into deeper sweet flavours and when left on the palate becomes more complex and mysterious at the back of the cheeks making you feel like you’ve just left the planet for a moment. Now there’s a brief for Ned!…