Two Eggs Are Better Than One
4.12.12

Two Eggs Are Better Than One

Written by Hynam Kendall

Too many cooks can spoil the broth, but Julie Verhoeven and Anthea Hamilton cook up a right royal treat with their utterly bonkers new film "Daisy: Manwatching".

Julie Verhoeven drew princess Diana. She drew her many times, in many guises. The lady in recline. In black. A black silk dress, immortalised with that royal head of lego hair. The Lady With the Ermine, sullen and lost in her role as British Princess, flushed cheeks and pretty eyes. Julie drew Diana standing at the window with bright Fair Isle knit and polarised arms, she looked soft and scared. Julie drew Princess Diana in her fateful tiara. Holding her baby, dressed in shoulder-padded blazer and matching silk tie. “Why not let the dear precious lady rest in peace!” the readers of the Daily Mail heralded. [We all find this rather hilarious when we recall it eight months later at our Ponystep interview]. Of course they had missed the point. Princess Diana’s life had been immortalised in print by Julie – fashion illustrator and artist extraordinaire whose collaboration list, to name but a few, includes Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Versace and Peter Jensen - for the newly refurbished Kensington Palace. The walls of the Princess’ former home were decorated with a sprinkle of her best life and life in fashion moments. Diana’s engagement. Her wedding to Prince Charles. The birth of Prince William. Her famed portrait session with Mario Testino. The scene was gorgeous, pretty, watery, and somewhat uplifting – not unlike the gorgeous slick of a woman Julie is herself. Daily Mail aside, the Palace overhaul was a great success.

Do you think artists are able to critique their own work fairly?
JULIE VERHOEVEN: I think it is for self-infatuated time wasters.

Anthea Hamilton – no stranger to the Saatchi gallery – erected a large version of John Travolta’s sweatband-clad head. Bust-like, ‘Portrait of John’ dominated her gallery space for Sorry I’m Late. One image of him smouldered like the cover of an erotic novel, his two eyes burnt into the canvas, the second, elated, was of him looking to the sky with a pallid complexion and sunken cheeks. In another corner, Anthea blows up a huge black and white image of a young Karl Lagerfeld. No high white collar, trademark shades or gloves. No, he is gym beefcake queen with a counter of chest meat and furry 80s chest rug. A tight leotard and swishing ponytail. “Its like a film set without a script” says The Independent. Dead celebrity bodies everywhere!

These are two pivotal moments by two great artists.

I have known Julie a while. It is hard not to enter the same room as her and not gravitate towards her. She is effervescent. Hilarious. Raucous. Brilliant. A length of woman with the most fantastic shock of police-tape yellow hair, she is, by all accounts, a DJing, drinking, dancing ball of energy. And she bellows with laughter. Literally bellows. She is fun with a capital F.

Judging by the work that I’ve seen exhibited throughout London – her Leg Chair, built from Perspex cut-outs of her own flexed legs, with a rice cake at the crotch is a personal favourite – I imagine Anthea to similarly be a lot of fun.

“How did we meet?” wonders Anthea, chewing the question… “It was a case of mistaken identity, I remember -  I was dressed as a shrimp and thought Julie was a squid, but she was in fact a Fresian Cow.”

They buckle with laughter.

“What was my first impression?” laughs Julie. “I was struck by Anthea’s pale pink origami foam head!!!”

It’s easy to see why these women adore each other.

We meet to discuss their new project, one they are working on together; a film called “Daisy: Manwatching”. It is a fantastically indulgent and absolutely bonkers short ‘mockumentary’ following the artist ‘Daisy’ as he prepares for the opening of his retrospective at The Royal Academy. He is, by turn, assisted by his 2 eggy foot soldiers and a random man-prop.

Hynam Kendall: Was it love at first sight between you two?
Anthea Howard – I was a fan of Julie’s work from before, but at the beginning I was playing it cool.

And it’s a friendship that lasted. This film isn’t your first joint venture…
AH: We made Fruity Seating as our first collaborative work for part of my solo exhibition Sorry I’m Late at Firstsite in Essex.  In addition to a limited Fruity Apron which is sold exclusively through Firstsite.

When were you aware of each others work?
Julie Verhoeven: Always. And I’m like a tragic super fan.
AH: Ditto!

How is the work dynamic between the two of you?
AH: Pretty chilled with moments of quiet production and bat and ball creativity.
JV: Plenty of tea break interludes with Greggs the bakers accompaniments.

Has it been easy to work together?
JV: Lots of things are unspoken between us. A mutual love of John Travolta has helped…
AH: And we’ve a mutual trust in each other’s way of working and the things that are made and so that gives a wonderful freedom - it always does doesn’t it? We share a lot of references in our work (and life).

What qualities do you both bring to the table?
JV: Anthea has a knowing calmness that I aspire to and respect .
AH: Julie’s inexhaustible knowledge is shared at turbo speed.

What do you contribute that the other cant?
JV: That’s best left unspoken.
AH: I’m good at Photoshop.

The film is pretty strange, what was the original concept?
AH: It’s a long story – we originally wanted to make a record with the sound of someone frying an egg – or boiling one. It would be 3mins – the length of the perfect pop song. Also the same amount of time as it takes to perfectly soft boil an egg.  It was meant to be a reference to Jack Goldstein.
JV: And we were thinking who could we get to fry the egg?  A superstar, the rest took care of itself….

Whose idea was it?
JV: Both!

Has it been easy to work together?
JULIE VERHOEVEN: Lots of things are unspoken between us. A mutual love of John Travolta has helped…

From the conversations we’ve had before about the project, it seems to have had many changes, different incarnations. How long did it take to get to this final concept?
AH: A year’s gestation period.

What’s the story behind the name ‘Daisy: Manwatching’?
AH: Its because it is an observational ‘faux’ study of an iconic male artist in his natural habitat in preparation for his right royal day ahead. Its all about graphic iconography and student mischief .

It’s a 2 part show that continues in Cluji in Romanian in January. Whats the second part, how will that work?
JV: Part 2 is now in the later part of spring and the show takes a more scrambled, eggy direction.  In Cluji things are hotting up.
AH: Human sized toast racks and a ski-wear range: salopettes, puffa jackets, moon boots – sweatbands? A capsule collection. I’m still a bit obsessed with doing the 3-minute record.

Do you think artists are able to critique their own work fairly?
JV: I think it is for self-infatuated time wasters.

So I won’t ask you for your critique of the finished product…
AH: Oh, I’ve no issues with procrastination…

Then how would you critique this piece?
AH: “Two  eggs are better than one”.

Daisy: Manwatching

Anthea Hamilton and Julie Verhoeven

Until 16/01/2013

PELES EMPIRE

25F Belfast Road

London

N16 6UN

United Kingdom