With an approach deliciously described as ‘hedonistic and self-satisfying’, artist Maisie Cousins draws upon emotive personal experiences to explore themes of power, femininity, nature, technology, the body and indulgence in her recognisable compositions. Here, after shooting a conceptual story on cosmetic dermatology for the Wallpaper’s October 2022 issue, she tells us about the importance of being impulsive and the egg cups that made her feel something.
Wallpaper*: Describe your style and process
Maisie Cousins: I used to set out with a little shopping list of ingredients of different textures and colours and then see how it turned out together on my kitchen table. But now I find I’m using things that are already there rather than constructing.
W*: How did you bring your way of working to our October 2022 Issue story on cosmetic dermatology?
MC: It’s always been quite personal the way I work, a bit like a diary. Just collecting photos in no particular order or projects. I’ve always wanted to be a photographer who works in projects – I guess that could be a hangover from university but I could never do it. I need to make images often and not really about anything in particular; [it’s] just a way of decompressing everyday things for me.
If I’ve thought about it too much before I’ve made it, it’s ruined a bit for me. I need it to be more instant and impulsive.
W*: What do you think is the most interesting thing happening within photography now?
MC: You know what I don’t think it’s a photographer’s job to know what’s interesting right now. I’ve always felt out of the loop and relied on gallerists and editors to tell me that. I’m not ashamed! I’ve been so fortunate to have gotten represented by Hannah Watson at TJ Boulting gallery. I just blindly go with what she’s working on really.
W*: What’s on your radar?
MC: There’s an antiques/junk shop near me and I love to browse there. I love tat. I love bits and bobs and collecting useless things. I guess it’s a bit of nostalgia but I like to be transported a bit – not necessarily to another time but just that old feeling of certain plastics and objects. I bought some Bakelite egg cups and they truly made me feel something. I like to overhear conversations and I like gossip. I love hiding in that shop and eavesdropping on conversations between the owner and people coming in with what they think is valuable tat, and she tells them ‘no, it's not’. I really love old plastic. And memorabilia from old resorts or bars. Love a John Hinde postcard too.
W*: What’s next for you this year?
MC: Thinking about scale, bigger scale in the first place. I love to shoot macro and blow it up but I’m feeling quite compelled to go wider and bigger. Maybe it won't work out! I also want to make more physical one-off pieces. I have two solo shows next year so let’s see… I’ve got to get working.
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As Photography Editor at Wallpaper*, Sophie Gladstone commissions across fashion, interiors, architecture, travel, art, entertaining, beauty & grooming, watches & jewellery, transport and technology. Gladstone also writes about and researches contemporary photography. Alongside her creative commissioning process, she continues her art practice as a photographer, for which she was recently nominated for the Foam Paul Huf Award. And in recognition of her work to date, listed by the British Journal of Photography as ‘One to Watch’.
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