Who or what is the biggest inspiration for your art?
My practice looks at the contrast between the slow, considered process of painting against the sensory overload of daily life, and how contemporary painting is able to deal with those polarities. For me, the work relates to the body, the physical world, the transient nature of city living, the virtual, and the relationship we have with the spaces we inhabit. I hope to instigate an immediate response in the viewer, whether visual, emotive, or tactile. I’m always searching for a particular feeling and a sense of connection, which can be difficult to articulate. This is why I work with an abstract visual language which is open to interpretation.
Please tell us more about your working process and the way you approach new artworks
When I’m painting, I like to be surprised, to work spontaneously and in response to the paint and other materials and to see what they can generate. The surfaces are often dense and weighty; heavy plywood, panel, and sandpaper. I use them for their textual qualities and their ability to withstand multiple layers of paint. The handling of paint and the interaction between the medium and the raw surface is a primary consideration in my practice.
I tend to begin a piece by making a mark, or laying down a base coat of colour, just so that I have something to initially respond to. Most of the paintings involve multiple layers so I have to get to the point where I feel happy with what’s gone on with this spontaneous element, then I can start to experiment with collage and the geometric element.
What motivates you the most in your artistic journey?
I’m always working towards those moments when everything clicks into place and the painting feels effortless. They are few and far between!
Who or what has recently impressed you?
I recently saw an exhibition of work by Karla Black at Galerie Capitain Petzel here in Berlin. I’ve been thinking about it ever since – there’s a boldness in the way she uses materials which I really admire. The lightness of touch really allows the essence of the materials to come through.
Which artist, dead or alive, would you want to have a beer with?
I think it would have to be Philip Guston.
How do you spend your free time besides artistic work?
I like to read. I got into Jack Kerouac recently, particularly ‘On the Road’ and ‘The Dharma Bums’. I’m also really interested in the idea of dystopias, so ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley, and ‘Oryx and Crake’ by Margaret Atwood are among my favourites. I really like Dave Eggers too.
Do you have any dream projects in mind that you would like to do in the future?
I’d love to have an exhibition in New York. I’ve never been so it would be a great excuse to go! I’d like to see some of the Abstract Expressionist work that’s there.
Why did you decide to only create small format artworks throughout your career?
The choice of materials and the diminutive size of the supports reflects the solidity and objecthood of paintings. It’s what has felt right for the kind of work I’m making now. I actually did make larger work when I first started out – I was making landscape paintings around four foot by six, but since I began making the more abstract work I’ve been working on a much smaller scale. I like the intimacy involved in looking at smaller pieces; you have to get close to them.
I would like to challenge myself to be able to successfully claim an exhibition space with only small work. I see my paintings in the future becoming much more sculptural, and dealing with the line between painting, sculpture and painting in the expanded field. I’m really interested in the dialogue that can happen between wall based work and more sculptural objects.
Does the collage technique have a particular meaning in your art? Is it a conscious creative process or just an efficient way of creating shapes and layers?
I use collage as part of the process of developing the compositions. Simple geometric shapes cut out of paper are tested in variations before the arrangement is set against gestural marks. I look at collage as a way of making a preliminary sketch before committing to a composition as I’m able to test different layouts on the support to find what works best. Then I mask off the areas where I’ve placed the collage and fill them in with paint. Pairing this precise, geometric element with spontaneous brush strokes is a chance to really consider and respond to the previous gestural actions. In my ideal painting I would like to be to say as much as I can with as little as possible happening on the picture plane. This is why I work with what I feel are the elemental aspects of painting; simple geometric shapes such as rectangles, semi circles and triangles, and the gestural mark.
What is the significance of triangles and diagonal lines in your artworks?
I’m interested in the spiritual connotations of the triangle, which may be part of the reason why I gravitate towards it more so than the other shapes in my work. I feel as though its a symbol of mindfulness and contemplation, the antithesis of commercialism and materialism. I was looking recently at Indian Tantric paintings which really made me think about the power of shapes and symbols. I find it interesting to consider this alongside branding and logos used for commercial purposes. I often think of the shapes in my paintings as having their own identities and their own journeys across the picture plane, much like in the novel Flatland.