Billingham largely works with oil, mostly on linen but sometimes on primed polyester for its smooth surface. Yet he also explores other mediums. He translates watercolors into tapestries displayed on the floor, which he makes in Belgium just outside of Ghent. He’s made sculptural pieces before, including painted screens and a table, which sits in his studio, with a painting embedded in it. His new body of work involves further sculptural elements. He is currently working with casts made from saxophones purchased on Ebay.
“To me, they are the best instrument visually to sum up improvisation,” he notes. “I’ve been crushing them. There’s a building across the road where they have hydraulic presses. The company’s been going since the 1880s and it’s been there since the 1930s. The company is becoming obsolete. It can put 100 tons of pressure onto a relatively small object.” Billingham has been pressing his saxophones down until they are almost flat, at 6-10mm (less than half an inch) and casting them, experimenting in materials. “I’m still in the process, but they should hopefully look exactly like paintings. Then I’ll use the panels as painting supports.”