Hello, could you tell us a bit about your practice?
Hello! Thank you for the invitation to participate.
As a visual artist I make mainly drawings, paintings and prints although I also use found objects (dedicated skip rat and market shopper) as well as play around with batik, natural dyeing, textiles, waste materials, silversmithing, and fire. Patterns, colour, line, nature, symbolism, metaphor, transformation and visual language all play a part in my work.
Themes of change and transformation, fertility, colour, beauty and the life cycle occupy my practice, often with plants, flowers and the natural world as symbols.
Printed works are often developed from detailed drawings made directly from life, then using experimentation with techniques and materials. I exploit drawing, both observational and abstract, which remains an underpinning medium for its directness, purity and simplicity. Prints can have as many as twenty different layers and I often work in series, rather than making an edition of prints. Approaching printmaking as a painter, I use different colour harmonies and dissonance and manipulate positioning of different images within the composition using screenprint, monoprint and woodcut.
Enjoyment of the making processes and then the enjoyment of the audience is hugely important to what I do.
As well as my studio practice I’m very happy to be a freelance artist educator, working with groups of all ages and backgrounds, in all sorts of places, for over 20 years and counting… I believe art to be a powerful transformative and therapeutic tool, whether through making or as the audience. Most recently I’ve worked for Sunderland University leading drawing sessions, Berwick Visual Arts for the “Create, Aspire, Transform” project, Wild in Art with young patients at the Great North Children’s Hospital at the RVI (painting “Hope” the elephant for Elmer’s Great North Parade) and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (ongoing freelance sessions with schools and public). Variety is the spice of life.
What are you exploring at the moment?
I’m refining some printmaking skills as well as researching colour, flowers, pollination and scent. I’m also looking at the classification and naming of colours in horticultural colour charts and making work onsite in gardens and plant nurseries.
Have you found there’s anything in particular that has influenced you over the years? What inspires you?
Art, and subsequent conversations
about it, but mainly the art. How artists apply paint, ink, charcoal, light
etc. to a surface, how the energy and intention of that movement is embedded in
the artwork, and how they use colour. Patterns, plants, flowers, colour and
seasons are a continual source of inspiration.
I love working in a large studio group where there are makers using
different media and finding how all creative processes overlap.
Where do you work? Could you show us a picture of your working environment?
I work from a large, light studio at 36 Lime Street (Ouseburn Warehouse and Workshops), Newcastle upon Tyne. Working in a nature-rich enclave in the city is a really positive influence on my work and life. I also use Northern Print (open access printmaking studios) nearby for some printmaking.
What’s on your bookshelf/what are you listening to or reading at the moment?
A big pile of books comprising fiction (I am not a completer finisher): Dear Life – Alice Munro, The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood, stories by Tim Winton, Trespass – Rose Tremain; non-fiction: The Sensory Herbal Handbook – The Seed Sistas, Drawing Water – Tania Kovats, Midnight and Noon – Josef Albers, In Real Life – Olafur Eliasson, To Fix the Image in Memory – Vija Celmins. This poem:
The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Listening to Sufjan Stevens, Jon Hopkins, Kate Bush, Terakaft, PJ Harvey, Tariverdiev, FIP radio, Radio 3, the news.
Could you give us between ten and twenty words that define your practice?
Colour, drawing, context, growth, line, layer, simplicity, mark, surface, change, seasons, language, garden, flowers, beauty, transformation, soul, gesture, renewal.
Where can people see your work?
Pineapple Gallery, Bishop Auckland, the occasional art fair, at my studio by appointment or at Open Studio events (next one is 23 and 24 November 2019 at 36 Lime Street then 23 and 24 March 2020).
Our last featured artist, Jenny Purrett asked, “When you find yourself in a creative rut, what strategies do you use to get yourself out of it?
Tidy up, move things around, visit an exhibition, read, learn a new skill, go through old work, throw stuff out, walk on the beach, travel, swim.
My question for the next participant is:
How have you come to choose the media or materials you work with in your practice?