Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your practice?
I started out as a painter, but in recent years have developed a multiform practice to articulate my work on the themes of material memory (object work) and displacement. I work mainly with objects, paint and video, but have also branched out into performance. All of the forms that I work with feel interrelated and I tend to use what feels right in the moment. More recent developments are to combine these elements and extend my assemblages into installations.
I work with a family history that connects me to the Spanish Civil War in particular and this is my springboard into considering parallels in the contemporary world.
All of my work is research based.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on an Arts Council funded project called Through An Artist’s Eye, about a British artist called Felicia Browne who volunteered in the Spanish Civil War and tragically lost her life in action. I’m working closely with an archive of her drawings and letters, in collaboration with a poet called Jenny Rivarola, who also has a personal connection to this history. I’m close to completing a cycle of paintings marking the defining stages of her political awakening and her fateful journey to Spain. We have been working closely with Professor Tom Buchanan of Oxford University and Tate Britain.
The work will be exhibited in Felicia Browne’s birthplace (Thames Ditton) in the Autumn. This will mark the 80th anniversary of her death.
How do you spend your time when you are at the studios?
Studio time is precious. It can feel a little like spinning plates. Sometimes research goes on alongside making the work and it’s important to be able to connect instantly to the internet to source texts, images or even look for the objects I need for my assemblages.
For the Artist’s Eye painting cycle - and this happens more when I’m working on a series - I switched off my laptop and threw myself into the work. Time works differently in this state. I spent 11 hours in my studio one day towards the end of this work period, but it felt like nothing at the time. Afterwards you feel it. It can be very draining but I find total concentration is the only way to resolve a painting sometimes. I walked home in a daze.
I like to inhabit the period I’m working on and even take on the character of my subjects at times. One the research is inside my head I can connect to it while I’m working and this probably best describes my method - it’s totally intuitive but informed.
What are your other (work) commitments if any?
I’m developing a larger project which will involve a group showing of artists working with material memory. It’s early days but I’m excited. I combine my practice with being a carer.
How does having a studio at Magdalen road support your work?
The studios is great place to work. It’s essential for me to be able to come away from a domestic landscape. Previously I worked from a studio in my garden and I found the separation of work and home life difficult. My studio has a very particular atmosphere - a little like going back in time and this is really conducive to working as I do.
Of course talking to other artists is enjoyable and beneficial to my practice, and there are great opportunities like the recent DisLocate group exhibition at the VW Garage on Iffley Rd.
I enjoy being an artist trustee. It’s changed my thinking about the place. I don’t just think about it as a rented space, but more as a body of people all moving towards greater professional development. It’s exciting to play a part in this.
What are you hoping to achieve over the next year?
One goal is to transport the Artist’s Eye project to other venues in 2017 to reach more audiences.
I have been incredibly stimulated by working with another artist’s history, but especially with her creative material. It’s certainly taken the painting side of my practice into new places considering Felicia Browne’s sketches and finding new ways of incorporating line into my work. I would like the opportunity to extend this kind of exploration.
Working with Arts Council funding raises the game. More such spurs to my bow would be amazing.
Seeing the group project I’m developing come into fruition is another major aim for next year.