Artwork’s Title: ’Un-touched’
Materials Used: Acrylic paint on plastic
Studio Based: Brixton, London
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Initially, I research through source material such as books, the internet and visit certain sites of interest. When approaching making new work, I put great importance in the sketchbook for drawing around the subject matter I am dealing with at that moment in time. I don’t allow myself to dwell on whether a certain drawing will become a painting or not – it’s all very organic and intuitive.
When it comes to painting, I work on several different pieces at the same time, normally working on the wall. This helps illuminate the edge of a painting. After a work is completed I will then stretch and layer materials, usually plastic, muslin or calico. This is the most exciting part of the process, the act of cutting or editing large paintings down to smaller paintings excites me – this offers an uncertain ending to the process of working.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Experimental, Inquisitive, Free
How did you come up with this painting idea?Is there any story behind this painting?
The work that I am currently creating derives from traditional tapestries. Using elements or sections of the tapestry as my source, I then simplify and reinterpret them with paint and layering of material. The subject matter stems from a residency completed in Dumfries House (Scotland), where they have a collection of original Flemish tapestries. When drawing from them I kept having the urge to break down what I saw in front of me. ‘Un-touched’ is just another work in that ongoing series.
Using plastic was a conscious choice – it provides a great surface for the paint to be applied to and offers a print type quality once dried. The transparency of the material allows for background detail of the space to be read along with the work – a relationship is forged. I want to break the conventional practice of having an edge of a painting, hence why I paint on the wall first and then stretch the work so the strokes run over the side of the stretcher.
What colour is used the most in this painting?
What would be the best way to exhibit your work?
There is no preference for the way my work should be shown at the moment. The more shows I am involved in the more understanding I gain – seeing the work in a gallery setting always informs the practice. I enjoy showing work that challenges the relationship between painting and sculpture.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
Howard Hodgkin, Gerda Scheepers, John Hoyland, Betty Woodman, Phyllida Barlow, and Daniel Sinsel are constant references. There are many other artists past and present that I look to for inspiration. It’s important to understand your work and it’s place in the field – to always look at the bigger picture.
How do you know when this painting was finished?
With all my paintings, not just ‘Un-touched’, you have a feeling when the work is finished through experience and instinct – you just know when to stop. ‘Un-touched’ was actually made from offcuts of other paintings, so it had to be finished once I had no more offcuts left around my studio.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
I currently work in my studio in Brixton – a converted office block. It is quite small so a bit of a squeeze! It has very dated ceiling light fittings that give off a yellow tinge that isn’t great. As colour is important in my work I need to find a more neutral lighting source for evening working and dark winter days. The window offers good daylight so the majority of the time the light is fairly good – the heating gets a thumbs up!
In the studio, work is always constantly rotating on the walls. I enjoy surrounding myself with previous works – work made a year ago alongside works on paper that I might have made a week ago. There is a constant pile of sourced information – sketchbooks and works on paper that are scattered across the studio floor. I always have a main sketchbook on the go. This forms the pallet for recording certain colours I have mixed, or shapes that I have found successful. I also use the sketchbook as my logbook and a source that I continually reference from.
Overall, the studio is a bit of a mess, but that’s how a studio should be! An organised mess, but in my case, not so organised.
Is there any particular message that you wish your viewers to take from this painting?
No, there isn’t any particular message I’m trying to convey, however, I want to create paintings that give the viewer a composition to explore, to create work that holds the attention of the viewer and rewards them, despite the fact that it might not give too much away contextually. Challenging the perception of the viewer is also an important aspect.
I am currently looking at abstracting figurative shapes. It is important for me to know where these shapes have come from but less important for the viewer to understand the source. Again, it goes back to this idea of the visual experience – encouraging the viewer to interpret and find meaning.
The beauty of painting, especially in the field I work in, individuals invariably take away their own personal message. When discussing my work with others the response is so varied, which I find greatly important.
What does your mum think about your art?
Yes, she’s a fan; she started putting them up in the house without asking.
Which exhibition did you visit last?
Louise Bourgeois at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge.
What are your plans for the near future?
I am involved in a show happening in Birmingham in a couple of weeks, and then a small group show in Brixton soon. Other than that the plan is to progress my practice – to keep experimenting and to continue to develop ideas and techniques.
© All images are courtesy of the artist