Four Artists discuss their techniques and ideas ahead of a joint exhibition, Landscapes, at Boundary Art in Cardiff.
As a nature-lover living with a view of the sea it’s no surprise that I am mostly inspired by the patterns found within these landscapes. The ever changing colours of the sky and sea alone driven by the seasons and lighting conditions are remarkable. The glow of sunset reflecting off buildings to the darkness of nightfall, and all its deepest shades of grey.
The catalyst for continuing this style of work came after showing my work ‘Copper II’ to the award-winning designer Ross Lovegrove, a very dear friend of mine who’s not only become a mentor figure but who’s joy of life rubs off on me each time we meet. With an equal passion for natural forms I regard his opinion very highly so took the plunge.
Whilst looking at the aerial shots of the ocean, it wasn’t long before I stumbled across the incredible photography taken by NASAs Juno Camera – and so my next obsession began – space and the planets.
I begin the process by choosing the best platform and shape – often choosing circles. Maybe this is subconsciously a link to the ‘Planet Earth’ theme and circle of life, but also because it makes a more visually pleasing display on the wall. The mix of colours and how they react with each other is then the most significant decision I make – often mixing them together on a spare canvas first to view the result. This sometimes takes several attempts. Whether I want a matt or most glossy finish usually depends on the subject matter and the overall finished effect I would like – and then I add various additives to the mix to create effects that then take their own course and emerge naturally. Given the extremely fluidity of the paints I use I can only work on 1 painting at a time as I move around the entire canvas which has to remain flat throughout both the application and the very long drying time. In an ideal world I’d love to have a huge studio where I could not only work on much larger pieces but also work on multiple pieces.
If I only make my parents proud I’ll feel like I’m a winner. My Mum is a rock to me and I wouldn’t know what to do without her. She always encouraged me and my sister Kate from a very young age to follow our dreams. From an arty family herself she knew the value of not only spending time using your imagination and not being confined to regular materials, but also made sure she took me to galleries for a more educational approach to art.
Creativity for me is linked to survival in its deepest sense, and is not only sitting down with a box of crayons to make a drawing or building a cow from paper and glue! The importance of why we feel to pick up the crayon or start dancing as infants seems like a response of being who and what we are. There are deeper questions that could be explored as to why we do this, ancestral memories perhaps? For whatever reason, it is inside us!
I met some musicians that wanted to find the origins of music in Belgium many years ago, the sound of rain drops, stones rolling, footsteps, a heart beating. They built such amazing instruments such as stilt-a-phones, a revolving harp, a ping-pong table with notes everywhere on its surface. The music that these people created was incredible. The positive things that can be done are without end.
When looked into in a deeper context, the world of art is fascinating. The achievements made by individuals can be breathtaking, works of art for God or various Gods, people’s beliefs and devotions to something, to someone, just an example of what can draw out greatness in people.
Talent I believe can be hidden away, never used, never nurtured depending on what circumstances a person may find themselves in. Some may never have the chance to use the materials that are on offer, to use a studio to learn dance, to learn to play music, to learn to draw and paint etc. Then there is the other side for teachers to be able to pass on knowledge, another important part of our evolution. I have taught a little in my life, and it’s a great feeling to be able to pass on knowledge. I think that there are those who have that in their blood also, but of course there needs to be somewhere to do these things, a place that people on both sides can go to for the reason of being taught and teaching.
Expressing ourselves is important, to sing, to dance, to create, and with guidance those feelings can be directed towards greatness, things that those people never thought they could do, which in turn is put back into society, into our world. Others can be inspired, given hope and a breath of air that provides enough courage to try it for themselves. There may be a genius sitting right now at home doodling, or strumming on a guitar in their bedroom. Dreams can be fulfilled, dreams give hope and with courage and determination and those behind them giving them confidence and encouragement, who knows what can be achieved.
On another level, it may be enough that someone creates and learns to express themselves just for themselves which is also important too. That person could create something that inspires another. It’s like water trails, pathways…and it doesn’t really matter how, it matters that it does!”
The coastline, the edge of landscape, is a place where perception can be transformed and altered by memory and imagination.it is at a point where the veil between the two worlds of land and sea is the thinnest, exploring both the conscious and unconscious. It is a place where we make the greatest connection.
My creative practice stems from a fascination for this spiritual connection between land and sea, sea and sky, nature and mythology. the edge of landscape The fragile boundary separating figuration and abstraction underlies my work. My paintings are an encounter, an embodiment of a sense of place through a continual dialogue between real and imagined geographies. Ancient and contemporary themes lay traces and layers in the work, fluid yet static changing states, building on the mysterious surfaces beneath.
I am excited by colour combinations as well as texture and mark making. I make drawings and sketches in direct response to the land and seascape, the cliffs and sea caves, the weather, the shifting tidelines. Back in the studio I use this resource instinctively working with the immediacy of paint and colour, absorbing the remembered experience into painting.I sketch with charcoal and retain those initial marks then work mainly with palette knife as I love the immediacy, texture and mutability of thick paint on the surface of the canvas. This is often juxtaposed with leaving parts of the painting untouched. Paint in fact, is a major concern. Process is integral, both in painting terms as well as within the landscape. The performative aspect of painting is as important to me as the outcome. Getting caught up in the physical and mental process of painting, being in the moment, the gesture and reaction to the painted surface, excite me as the space and place are transformed through colour, shape, texture, and line.It’s the journey and experience of painting as well as the destination.
The small world concept derives from the title itself the idea of a “world within a world”. through material exploration and geological inspiration, the fabrication of these otherworldly fictitious landscapes represent the swirling junction of where my imagination, reverie and memories clash and morph to create objects where reality meets fantasy and fiction. The work itself is inspired by existing geographical location such as Penarth beach front and ignore where science, geology and fantasy bridge reality.
Fantasy provides the opportunity to escape into alternate realities, explore unknown, weird and wonderful environments benevolent to the one we inhabit. Fantasy in a sense is an escapism and the value of said escapism is that it provides a platform that extends beyond our reality, of which in turn allows us to reflect and look at our own authenticity and worlds realism better. It allows us to question our assumptions and identify that which prevents us from progressing.