The walls of Enter Gallery are brighter this week as we welcome the work of contemporary artistic duo, The Cameron Twins. The pair have made a big impression on the art world with their colourful and almost garish pop-art influenced pieces, that mix nods to childhood with darker motifs with eerily sinister effect.
In today’s blog, we’re daring to step into the bright-yet-twisted world of these identical twin sisters to discover how being twins influences their artistic practice, and to discover the fascinating themes of childhood play and duality that infuse their work.
Abigail and Phebe are The Cameron Twins - identical sisters who have been creating art together since they were first able to pick up their paintbrushes.
Inspired by artistic teams like Gilbert and George and Jeff Koons and Mike Kelley, it was during their last term of university studying Fine Art that they decided that it was time to make their artistic collaboration official.
Since then, the duo have created a vast oeuvre of work, consisting of hand-pulled silkscreen prints, digital montage, sculptures, photography and installation.
Blast from the Past
Much of the twins’ work focuses on memories and memorabilia from their shared childhoods. Alongside beloved toys that we all recognise from Trolls and Teletubbies to Furbys, many of their pieces feature their own childhood drawings and toys, lending their works an autobiographical slant, or as Abigail puts it:
“We’re not only collaborating with each other, we’re collaborating with our past selves too. We want people to see their childhoods in our work, but also want to write ours in.”
Fortunately for the twins, the treasure trove of childhood ephemera seems to be plentiful. Phebe reveals:
“We hoard things! Luckily our Mum kept everything so we have a lot to draw from and we just got a load more from our Grandma the other day, so we need to look through them. Hopefully there will be some good stuff in there.”
One of the most powerful things about art is its capacity to make you feel something. It has the ability to whisk you away to days gone by and to remind you of people, places and special moments. This sense of nostalgia is something the twins love to explore. Phebe tells us:
“We want people to recognise icons from their childhood so that we can evoke nostalgia – we love seeing people get excited when they recognise or remember a favourite character or toy that they might have forgotten. It’s fun. It also helps people of all ages to connect with our work.”
Nostalgia is also entirely personal – something that means something to one person could completely pass by the person standing beside them. Abigail reveals:
“The whole idea is about how nostalgia can affect your memories of things. Phebe might remember something as a positive memory and I might have experienced the same event and think of it negatively, or not have a memory of it at all. That exploration of memory is a really important theme in our work.”
A Darker Turn
The twins’ work is characterised by their unique use of colour. All of their paints, whether fluorescent or UV, are mixed by hand, and are designed to emulate the sickly sweet, over-saturated colours that we saw on childhood TV shows, books and toy packaging.
While this gives each piece a chaotic and naïve quality, the works are juxtaposed with creepier elements to explore the darker side of the things you remember, and those you might prefer to forget. Phebe explains:
“From the outside, our works look colourful and cute, but we love inserting hidden, sinister elements in too. It helps us get across the point that we’re inviting the viewer to question the effects of nostalgia and their own memories. To ask themselves, ‘was that actually how I remember it or was it actually a bit dark, or weird. Or have I over the years shaped the memory into something it wasn’t?’”
Spot the Difference
Many of The Cameron Twins pieces that are available at Enter Gallery now are hand-pulled silkscreen prints. This repetitive medium allows the twins to dive into another area of interest – mirroring and repetition. Abigail explains:
“Printing is all about repetition, layering and creating lots of multiples, so we relate to that as multiples ourselves. Although each print is meant to be identical, there will obviously be the tiniest differences. Again, this interests us because being twins, we’re the same, but also a little bit different.
“Also, nostalgia is basically repeated memories of the past, so that theme links nicely to the printing process where we create multiples of the same thing.”
Given their experience of being identical is so central to their work, we couldn’t resist asking whether they have any kind of sixth sense when it comes to working together. Abigail tells us:
“When it comes to actually physically making the work, we’re really in sync, it’s unspoken. It’s also fun and playful to create these artworks together, which is great as it’s an extension of the theme of childhood play that’s seen across our work.”
“It’s really easy for us to get what each other mean without having to explain it loads. It makes the collaboration easier because we understand each other’s wave lengths. We do argue though, but a little bit of conflict is part of the process and can help to make the work better. You can often see those conflicts in the piece. If we come up with an artwork that’s really violent and sinister, then you know we’ve had a bad week!”
The Cameron Twins’ work is available now at Enter Gallery. Explore the collection here.