This week we talk to Beth Ross, an interdisciplinary visual artist who works on the themes of memory, motherhood, home and shared histories. Her work starts with a concept, which is revisited many times, before becoming a physical work that references the original idea through the title. She is part of the Collective Studio at The Newbridge Project, and is currently exploring memory through painting.
Hello, could you tell us a bit about your practice?
My practice has always appeared to be quite random. I have used photography, light, sculpture, paint, fabric and text. Themes have included motherhood, place, displacement, memory, feminism, home and loss. Looking back over the last 10 years, the thing that seems to connect it all is the way I develop an idea. There is often a small catalyst event e.g. hearing a snippet of a radio programme, something one of my children has done, some information found on the internet, and then it slowly grows as I return to it again and again. I sometimes even dream about it, and lots of thinking happens in the’ hour of the wolf’, that time between 2am and 3am when you’re awake and lying in bed. If I come back to it enough times then I go with it. The work then manifests itself into a physical form, which is often prescribed by the time and space I have available.
Remember what is lost
What are you exploring at the moment?
I’m particularly interested in memory; how we remember events, places, people and how recurring memories are made. I started making abstract paintings in September and I’m using those to explore different aspects of this. One series I am working on is based on Freud’s work on memory and emotion, and the places he and I spent time in, in Vienna (where I lived for 3 and a half years). Another, is an ongoing series of paintings which is called ‘The Colours That I Saw Today’ in which I concentrate on memorising 4 colours that I notice on one day and then I try to paint them a few days later. It’s been a really interesting process, and I am now starting to be interested in why I choose to remember specific colours, and how my perception of those colours affects the final painting.
The Colours That I Saw Today
Have you found there’s anything in particular that has influenced you over the years?
My children play a large part in my art, sometimes just practically, as in how I work and when I work, but also by providing endless inspiration, the reminder that it is fine to make mistakes and that one should constantly experiment.
What inspires you?
It can be anything. A sentence in a book, seeing something, a conversation, a radio programme, my children, a sunrise, something found…pretty much anything.
Where do you work? Could you show us a picture of your working environment?
I do a lot of work in my head, lying awake at night, washing up, watching television, driving etc but I physically work in a studio in The NewBridge Project, Gateshead.
Studio, Newbridge Project, Gateshead
What’s on your bookshelf/what are you listening to or reading at the moment?
City of Lies – Ramita Navai
A Handbook on Witches- Gillian Tindall
The Interpretation of Dreams- Sigmund Freud
Looking at the pictures:
Hilde und Gretl- Tarek Leitner and Peter Coeln
Susan Hiller- Edited by Ann Gallagher
Working from Memory- William Christenberry
The Art of Now
Could you give us between ten and twenty words that define your practice?
Colour. Thoughtful. Geometric. Bright. Sad. Reminiscent. Controlled. Random. Place. Memory. Accessible. Muted.
I haven’t changed my mind in a thousand years
Where can people see your work?
At the moment, on instagram @bethjross
Our last featured artist, Helen Pailing, asked, “What are the ingredients you need for optimum creativity?” Could you answer Helen’s question please and think of a new one for our next artist?
Time and space. Easy to say…harder to find.
My question is… “What job would you do if you couldn’t be an artist?”