How did you get started doing what you do?
I left school and did a BTEC in Art and Design, went straight on to a BA degree and then a Masters. This was all quite a long time ago now, I graduated in 1997. It took awhile to find my feet, though- it was only when I moved to Portugal for 5 years that I was really able to apply myself, and this was mainly because I could afford a studio space there and not, at that time, in London.
How would you describe your creative style?
Well, luckily you can usually avoid having to describe your work by getting your phone out and showing someone images. It’s really hard (and fairly pointless) trying to explain to someone what your work looks like and the list of adjectives I might come up with could conjure up ‘Hawaiian Shirt’ in somebody’s mind, how do I know what they’ll be envisioning?
What does your typical day look like?
I get to my studio at 10am everyday, I try to get my admin-type work done in the morning and then switch everything off and concentrate on painting, leaving at around 7pm most days. That’s the theory anyway, I often feel that I don’t have enough time in the day and would probably work later at night if I could.
How do you keep motivated?
I make sure that I come to my studio every day even if things aren’t going well. It’s good to work through rough patches and, if I’m really trashing everything I touch, then there are always computer-based things that need to be done! I find clearing out and tidying up my studio is a practical way of re-motivating myself. Getting out to see exhibitions and meeting up with other artists is pretty essential too.
How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
I think my surroundings have a fundamental impact on my work. My studio is on a big industrial estate in West London, it’s a very built up, busy area; there’s constant noise and building work going on, you never forget the city outside your door. Although my paintings are not about escapism as such – there’s an element of that. I think I’m more attuned, because of where I’m based, to the otherworldliness that I’m trying to represent in my work.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I hope to make paintings that are beautiful but that also offer a narrative that can be interpreted in different ways, whether it’s personal, or more broadly connected to, for example, environmental concerns.
How have others reacted to your work?
People see lightness and darkness, sometimes lightness, sometimes both – depends on who’s looking. I guess as the artist who made the work you aren’t going to hear too many negative comments; people are overtly respectful in that sense. I try to exploit beauty and colour in my work – it’s my hook to bring people in and engage further. Generally I’ve found people respond really well and have some personal connection, idea or memory sparked by it.
What do you want others to take away from your work?
I’m quite open to what people take from my work; the variation of how people interpret my paintings often surprises me (in a good way) and that’s actually something I try to encourage by not being prescriptive about my intended meaning. It depends what the viewer brings to it as much as what I’ve been thinking about when I make the work. It’s a two-way street.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Pursue your work as YOU want to and keep trying new things.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
More common sense than words of wisdom – work with people you like personally and talk to other artists- support from your peers is invaluable
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
I’m looking into residencies with an interest in environmental issues. My landscape paintings depict places that are uninhabited, wild and lost. There’s a celebratory appreciation of nature in my work but it’s tinged with a sadness that these places don’t really exist and/or will be corrupted.
What’s your process like?
I have two bodies of work that I have found really compliment each other in their process and my approach to them. My landscapes are very densely layered and a built up through lengthy over-painting and using a lot of different application techniques. My abstract paintings are made without any tools or brushes so I have less control over the medium and this is quite a freeing way of working. In general, it’s very important to see a progression over time; changing themes, influences and approaches that will mark out work from particular periods of time, and not feeling somehow stuck.