Simon, who studied BA (Hons) Photography at the AUB, was announced as one of four winners of the Beck’s Canvas Competition 2008. His winning design, ‘Duckrabbit’, was printed on to the bottles completing a unique set of limited edition labels. His label explores ideas of perception – do you see a duck or a rabbit? Here Simon tells us a little about his time at the AUB, what it was that inspired him to create the ‘Duckrabbit’ and how it felt to have his work mass-produced on a beer bottle…
“The BA (Hons) Photography course at the Arts University provided a solid foundation to my developing practice; introducing me to the necessary interplay between theory and practice; thinking photography and its role in contemporary practice. I graduated from the AUB in 2004, my undergraduate photographs were published in Source magazine and my moving image work shown at the Open Eye gallery in Liverpool. I also applied to the Royal College of Art and subsequently began my MA in 2005.
In the second year of the MA I was awarded a three-month studio residency at Cite des Arts in Paris and this gave me the time and perspective to reflect on what I had learned and space to wrestle with concerns central to my practice in preparation for my final show. Since graduating from the RCA last year it’s been hectic; I’ve participated in 13 group shows in Europe and the US leaving me a little exhausted but able to live off my work for the first time.
I only heard about the Beck’s canvas submission the night before the deadline, I liked the context so I put in the work. I knew plenty would apply in light of Beck’s history of working with artists such as Gilbert and George, Richard Long and Damien Hirst so I didn’t hold my breath, but I thought the work right for the bottle. I thought it would be interesting to ask a taxidermist to build the ‘Duckrabbit’ as they perceived it; hoping they would be caught in a perpetual state of building one, and in the process destroying the other, and that the end result would be a bit of a mess but might reveal something of the mental ‘activity’ between the duck and the rabbit that philosophers had talked about.
I decided to start by making my own version, a mock up of what I perceived when looking at the illustration and trying to see both animals simultaneously. I Googled a picture of a duck, and then a rabbit, stuck the ducks beak on the rabbits’ head and that’s the picture on the Beck’s label.
I hadn’t realised Beck’s intended to mass-produce the labels at the factory so when I was told they wanted to use the work on 6.5million labels it took a while to sink in. Having any art on a beer bottle is the perfect private view; two birds with one stone.
It’s been a strange experience, the work going out to mass production and then filtering back in often unexpected places; magazines, TV adverts, internet blogs, supermarket shelves, bars etc. Stranger still is the experience of attending a private view – to encounter the beer bottles en masse is slightly surreal!”
Simon is currently working as an artist in residence in Vienna.