Outer Spaces

Artist Profile: Josie KO

Josie KO, Big Lady, 2024. Displayed as part of Monument to fir gorma, 2024, Glasgow International 

Josie KO is a Glasgow based artist who graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2021. For more than a year, Josie has used Outer Spaces properties to store work. We caught up with her after visiting fir gorma, a collaborative exhibition of work by Josie and Kialy Tihngang, part of last month's Glasgow International

Could you describe your practice and what you've been working on lately?

My current practice purposefully uses non-traditional methods and mediums such as paper mâché, glitter and found objects which are seen to have a relegated status in the arts, to present a new reimagined depiction of the Black female body. Bringing together a kitsch DIY aesthetic full of colour and humour, my work glorifies the manmade and drifts from the norms of Western art ideals.

The scale of my works makes them unavoidably noticeable, counteracting the erasure of Black women in art history and Black female artists. Playfully, I present narratives which speak towards the Black British experience in a white dominated environment. Focusing on the white gaze on the Black body, the visibility of the Black body and decolonising art institutions, I hope to present an underrepresented perspective investigating intersectionality and revealing narratives of Black British and Scottish people through an investigation of hidden histories.

Josie KO, Silly lady, 2024. Displayed as part of Monument to fir gorma, 2024,

Glasgow International 

Has the ability to store work, to come back to it months later, and potentially show at a later stage, brought about any unexpected reflections or new perspectives on a specific piece or your wider practice?

The ability to store my work has been hugely impactful for my artistic practice because it has allowed me to develop, re-contextualise and re-show my work in a different setting. This was especially the case with my papier mache big lady which I initially made for the RSA New Contemporaries 2023 group exhibition. I knew that I wanted to add to the work and show it again but had no idea where I was going to store it in the meantime. Here, I got in touch with Outer Spaces and with their help, I was able to store my big lady in the former M&S, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow which allowed me to re-show it for my recent Glasgow International exhibition. I would have never been able to create the piece for this show without Outer Spaces help with storage. Given the nature of papier mache, I won’t be able to keep this work forever, but I’ve now taken the big lady to Outer Spaces new studios in Maxim Park, Motherwell and I can’t wait to show it one more time in the future.

Josie KO, Big Lady, 2024, in storage at Outer Spaces, Maxim Park, Motherwell. Photo, courtesy of the artist.

Josie KO, Let’s Get Lost Tonight, You Can Be My Black Kate Moss Tonight, exhibited as part of Poor Things, Fruitmarket, Edinburgh. In storage at Outer Spaces, Sauchihall Street, Glasgow

How does the knowledge that storage is available influence your mindset when making new work?

A significant part of my current work is that it is often big. This decision in the scale is very intentional as I aim to make my figures unavoidably noticeable, counteracting the erasure of Black women in art history and Black female artists.

Initially I was hesitant on making big work because of the massive difficulties big work produce. The issue of transporting work and storing it being the biggest. However, knowing that whatever I make will have a place to go afterwards has liberated me to work freely, in my ambitious manner without being too restricted or compromising too much to the detriment of my work.

Josie KO is currently preparing for her first solo exhibition this summer at Govan Project Space, Glasgow. Stay up to date with with her news here.

Thanks so much to Josie for sharing her experience of using our spaces. Artists need space to make work in, show work to others in and to store work in. It’s vital we can support artists in our network to access the spaces they need at pivotal moments in their careers.