I first met Cordelia a couple of months ago, after I saw her work featured in an Amelia’s Magazine article and actually screamed because I had done my undergrad dissertation on this very statue of Boadicea, and lo and behold someone was actually using it for a climate action message! It was like all my dreams had come true (I have strange dreams). I then interviewed Cordelia for my own article (to be published soon!) and discovered she was super cool and definitely swoon-worthy.
Name: Cordelia Cembrowicz
1) What do you do and why?
I am an artist, activist and now the Vice President of the Royal College of Art Students Union.
I make art because I love creative freedom. I find modern living fascinating, art gives me the chance to explore and interpret ways of thinking and being. This interest in the long term led me to become increasingly curious about climate change, the effects of our bizarre modern living on the climate and likewise the effects of the changing climate on civilisation. My response is to look at possible solutions to the possible long-term catastrophe we are facing, and to protest against it happening.
I built up my artistic practice making miniature fairies out of human teeth, and drawings and etchings of social and hormonal structures. The recent work I made on my MA is a result of investigating environmental activism, and in particular the group Climate Rush. It’s a kind of celebration of defiance through combining images of the female environmentalist protestors I met protesting, with depictions of environmental threats and places already affected by climate change. And also a print made from a portrait of me protesting on Boadicea’s horse.
Climate Rush is a really interesting direct action group. They take inspiration from the Suffragettes, and the movement one hundred years ago which successfully led to the right to vote being given to women. I’ve been making costumes, banners, stickers and postcards as propaganda for the group, and am speaking about this at the Climate Rendezvous on 13th October at Toynbee Hall.
Working for the RCA Students Union is exciting, as an opportunity to work with all these amazing creative people in so many different ways. I was drawn to the job by the opportunity to feed sustainability into the framework of the college (I really noticed the lack of environmental provision both academically and structurally throughout my time as a student, so formed the student Green RCA group, went and complained at meetings, make stickers for the recycling bins, screened The Age of Stupid etc). I’m organising events, discussions, parties, campaigns, choosing wallpaper for the bar and importantly vocally opposing increases in fees and the like at managerial meetings. Everyone is feeling the financial pinch at the RCA, fees are going up, studio spaces are shrinking so it is really important to provide light relief from all of that in the Student Union.
2) Does being a woman affect your work in any way?
I’d say so, you can never really act outside yourself, your experiences and relationships with the world inform your position in it.
3) Are you a feminist?
Yes, for me it is about equal rights for men and women.
4) What are your future plans?
To structure my life so I can continue making art as independently as possible. Walking on fire for the Nepali Children’s Trust, dance classes and a possible cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
5) Tell us one cool thing we don’t know already:
David Shrigley, Jeremy Deller and Mark Wallinger have set up a campaign to stop the 25% cuts to the arts, and David Shrigley‘s animation is great: