What was your path into the art world? What is your earliest memory of creating and when did you know that art was something you actively wanted to pursue?
As a child, I wanted to be an archaeologist, ideas of excavation and discovery totally enthralled me. I could imagine myself as a modern day Indiana Jones. I think lots of those ideas are still really prevalent in my work – whether that would be translating or digging up the undiscovered. In High School I was really lucky to have an incredible art teacher who demonstrated to me that art was a path that was possible. My family have its roots in Science – my dad and all my brother and sisters followed those paths. So prior to Mr Lloyd’s help I didn’t see that it was viable to follow the creative, it was like it didn't exsit to me. Though I would like to emphasize that I don’t reject Science in my practice – I feel my work reflects a conversation with the scientific – the biological, the chemistry, the physics of it all. As soon as I had started under his study and painting large scale canvases (long abandoned now…) and expressing myself through the arts, I realised there was not much else I wanted to do.
One of my earliest memories of an interest in art was as a child. Myself and my sister Sophie would regularly been tasked with drawing and sketching around our house, essentially to keep us quiet - a tactical pacifying activity from our tired mother. Though Sophie would always struggle to really envisage what she would like to draw – ending in tears and crying when the dog moved, or when she had no ideas etc – I on the other hand was always delighted by the challenge, and excited to see what people understood from my drawings!
Your notebooks and rough sketches are exhibited on your website - isolated as objects rather than part of a wider process, they become things of beauty in and of themselves. How do you look at the ‘process’ of creating? What makes a ‘finished’ work?
During my time at University and studying art, one of my tutors Jane Rushton instilled the idea that whilst some pieces of work can take hours to make, others can be days, months, years. There can be both complete physical labours and also momentary happy accidents that will be almost resolved immediately. It’s an idea that I have always held close to me. I don’t think that labour means the artwork is more valuable or effective and I personally value my drawings, sketches and notes as an integral part of my practice as a whole. This construction sometimes being the most important part.
A huge part of my work is about the investigation of methods and materials – particularly those we think of as painting and bringing some of those hidden techniques and undiscovered ideas of the materiality of painting and sculpture to the forefront, to a new audience and leaving clues about how they were created for people to pick up on. There is often a lot of mystique around art making and I think its important for the public to demonstrate how things are made, and what impact that direct interaction with material has on the work as a whole – for me personally as an artist, for other practitioners and crucially for the audience. My practice is all about those in studio experiments and tests, using historic materials and ideas of craftsmanship, in a mash up of with contemporary techniques.
Opening up my sketchbooks to the world is another way of achieving this goals. You get to see the steps as I take them.
Other artefacts, such as Detritus (2013) which is charcoal and pigment on the floor, seem to have arisen as a by-product of another creation. When do these objects, these processes, take on their own life as pieces of art to you?
Detritus and many of my other works, include pigment on the floor or spilt on a table. As you say, they are indeed artworks that have arisen as a by-product with smudges and drips sitting alongside a more traditional sculptural intervention. Those ‘mistakes’ or ‘accidents’ as others would call them are left in to open up the work, to provide an accessibility to the piece – an entry point, a pulling back of the curtain and even an opportunity to discuss the work. It’s definitively about process – the questions raised about the construction of a piece itself – how is this done, how is this sculpted, how is the pigment used; become more obvious when you leave the physicality of the experiments visible.
An example of this could be the charcoal of a previous drawing, left on the studio floor that then becomes ‘fixed’ by a golf mosaic panel. For me they are all pieces of the puzzle, I work by creating 100’s of pieces and then move them around the studio until they become activated by each other – that’s the moment that I know!
In both your sculpture and your drawing, circles and spheres in black, white and gold abound. What draws you to the way these shapes and colours interact?
A lot of my work is influenced by renaissance painting, where spheres and gold are prevalent. Though my work is not limited to those palettes, I think they are often the ones people remember. I deliberately used these paired down schemes as they are so simple and effective in translating the message!
Since 2014, many of your works are unnamed. What significance do you think naming objects holds in terms of guiding the viewer’s experience with them, or transferring meaning?
I think each work speaks to you specifically. Some works will be named by the nature of them, while other works feel more transient and can’t be shackled as easily as they are constantly moving and adapting. In this respect they remain unnamed.
I wondered if you could talk a little about the We Are Housing Association, and the ideas behind it, this focus on ‘creative homes in both real and virtual spaces for artists everywhere’. More broadly, what does ‘home’ mean to you as an artist? What is the significance of space in both creating and exhibiting?
We Are Housing is built on a simple idea that is so important, inviting audiences and people into everyday spaces to both create and discuss art. Galleries become so exclusive – and not everyone feels comfortable there – or even is welcome.
The home is a much approachable space for people, and it’s where real community is made.
Conversation over food or drink about culture, artwork and life are so so important – and I wanted to create an opportunity for me and my neighbours to do this. So We Are Housing is dedicated to this – bringing art work and culture into the home so we can enjoy them more comfortably within an environment of accessibility, participation and approachability for all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity – whatever it may be. Some of the exhibitions we have put on have been handing leaflets out with information at the tube station, have been Zoom calls with learning how to draw using chalk, as well as dinner and tea on the floor at my house.
Home for me is a practical environment as my studio is based within my house nowadays. But it also means community – whether that is people close to me or those I have met at Housing Association or my life in general. It means family and friends – a safety net of familiarity and comfort – all so important in these times of pandemic.
Having lived and be an artist in London for a long time (I have recently moved to Portsmouth) but I still appreciate that, space is key but also at a premium for most people. We Are Housing always aim to provide a space, a transformative one to express and to speak and to be spoken to. A space that commercial galleries and traditional art spaces do not typically offer.