Exercise Three - Round Two // Denise Zygadlo

May 21 2020

Exercise One

Practice - What is giving your life meaning this week?

 This is an easy one as my daughter gave birth to her first baby 2 days ago – a beautiful wee girl called Bertie; Roberta Sanna Peacock. Bertie short for Roberta after her paternal grandfather Bobby. Her middle name is after Sanna Bay where they spent their honeymoon last May and where in fact there were peacocks! I love patterns in life and these connections gave meaning and immense pleasure this week.


What do you see as the most important and the most overlooked aspect of your work?

The most important aspect I suppose is that the work comes from a very personal place – from inside. The fact that may be overlooked is the use of live photocopies of body parts in a lot of my work i.e I have to arrange myself on the copier – often extremely ungainly and a ridiculously uncomfortable balancing act! There is also a subtlety in the details which needs to be closely examined and probably goes unnoticed in a photograph.


I think my work needs to be seen in the flesh really- ha ha -   it does not always photograph well. But then all work is probably better seen in the flesh!


Do you think your work would be different if you knew no one was ever going to see it except you?

There is something about sharing one’s work, which is essentially an expression of oneself, that feels barren if denied. Every time I think of an answer to this one I find I’m contradicting myself.


Describe your dream studio situation and what is the biggest thing you think you took for granted about working in your studio ?

I’m so very lucky to have a good sized studio in my garden, so lockdown hasn’t made any difference. However it is cold, unless we are in a heatwave, as I don’t have a proper heating system and in the winter it is necessary to wear layers of thermals, body warmers and salopettes- so my dream studio would be the same with free central heating. And actually it would be great to have a sink…. and another plan chest…and better lighting …….and


What is your best time of the day or night to work and why? 

This alters depending on how engaged I am in the piece I’m working on and the time of year – I’d like to say early morning, but I seem to delay starting till I’ve got various tasks out of the way. Ideally before breakfast. But it can be fab to keep working into the night when things are going really well.


What is your studio staple snack?



Tell us about something you saw on your one walk of the day

The other day I came across what looked like an animal skeleton in a field – it was a large branch which, on closer inspection, resembled giant antlers. I made a wee video using it as a kind of antler/mask and put it on Instagram for fun and had more views than anything I’ve ever posted – there you go.


 If you had to live with one vice for the rest of your life what would it be?

Drinking strong coffee


Exercise Two

What is your favourite podcast?

I haven’t got round to doing this properly yet, but I listened to a lovely one of Celia Pym in interview and started to listen to artist to artist which was good too.


What is the best gift you've ever given or been given, vs the worst?

Best: My kids bought me a ticket to see Rosas dance company in Glasgow a few years ago – the four Phases with music by Steve Reich and Anna de Keersmaeker was dancing herself – she was wonderful and we were treated to Q&A with her afterwards and, because I’m so star struck, I spoke to her at the end and shook her hand – what am I like!


Worst: A horrible brooch as a leaving present from a part time job where everyone thought I was ‘arty’ and went to a lot of trouble to find the perfect ‘crafted’ objet d’arte – it was really nasty and such a shame – I guess I was embarrassed to be associated with such a horror – how ungrateful is that!


What is the best film you've ever seen vs the worst?

Sami Blood – a magnificent film about the Same people in Sweden who look after deer in the mountains. The director used non actors – incredibly moving.


Worst – so many to choose from, but one that sticks out is Black Swan, which I thought was so corny it made me choke – but lots of my pals loved it.


What's the most inspirational place you've been?

  Rome was pretty good – I visited 24 years ago and it was magnificent of course and when I came home I started designing again – it only lasted a couple of years, but led to me focusing on my own artwork.


Which era would you like to have experienced /experience again?

The 1940’s immediately comes to mind all the lovely outfits, but then there’s the war, or the Elizabethans, but then there’s beheading, maybe only for a day or two.


What are three trivial things you are missing since lockdown and three things you are enjoying?

 Trivial: I’m not missing anything trivial, but I do miss seeing my family and friends – that’s not trivial.


I am enjoying the lack of interruption, having space to clear sheds, doing classes online and to have developed a more committed daily routine for doing things I feel are important: meditation, walking the fields, keeping in touch, foraging food – which before lockdown were sometimes neglected.


What is your favourite hour of the day now? Are you aware of each hour/time more or less now?

I love early in the morning around 7am preferably with a cloudless blue sky like the ones we’ve been so fortunate to have had these past weeks. I think I am less aware of the time now – ‘the days go by like butterflies’ and I definitely lose track of what day it is.


What have you learnt, what are you consuming, what are you now expert in - since lockdown?

I’m consuming as much sunshine as possible and have trouble weighing up how much time to spend in the studio and how much I am allowed outside gardening. Lots of nettle soup and local cider.


I learnt an animation technique for my husband’s praxinoscope, trying out new ways of life-drawing with @alltheyoungnudes online every Monday night and how to make pyjama bottoms.


Exercise Three

Please pick one of the three following prompts as a starting point to make some work using an A5 piece of paper/cloth/whatever you like. There is no restriction on media and feel free to try something different and new. 


- Draw the last dream that you remember

- Draw a self portrait as a favourite animal doing your favourite daily thing

- Draw the last text you received  


Check out Denise's Exercise Three pieces here!