BH: What led you to become an Artist?
I have an inherent curiosity for art and creativity. I know it's a cliché, but I believe I was born an artist. As a child, I spent countless hours in my bedroom, making collages and drawing self-portraits - creating was how I liked to spend my time, and it made me happy. I didn't doubt that creativity, of some kind, was going to be my career.
After studying Graphic Design and Photography at College, I went on to study Graphic Design and Illustration at Bath Spa University. I loved the university experience of being surrounded by like-minded people and living in a creative atmosphere. However, by the end of my degree, I knew I didn't want to be a Graphic Designer. I wasn't inspired to fulfil other peoples' briefs - I was more interested in artwork and artists than fonts and concepts - I wanted to pursue my visions and ideas.
I moved back to Devon and started work as a Visual Merchandiser (Window Dresser), and to explore my interest in art, I enrolled on an Art A-level evening class. During this phase of my life, I travelled a lot. One of my most precious possessions is a sketchbook I kept whilst travelling through America. In every city we went to, I would head to the public galleries. Seeing so many inspirational artworks highlighted how important art was to me.
After my travelling phase, I settled back into life in Devon and got a job where I worked four long days and so I could have a day off in the week to paint. At this time, I joined Patrick Jones's abstract painting classes. Patrick is one of England's foremost and respected abstract painters, and his teachings were inspirational and had a profound effect on the direction of my work.
BH: Were there any pivotal moments in your education or experience when you were growing up that inspired you to become an artist? Perhaps you had a tutor or friend or parent who encouraged you? Or perhaps discovering the life and work of another artist inspired you in some way?
A couple of pivotal moments led me back to being a practising artist after taking a few years away to raise my family.Firstly, in 2016 I became poorly. It took nearly two years to diagnose and begin to treat my condition called PoTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome). During this period, I spent a lot of time in bed. Being poorly gave me time to think, dream and evaluate life. When I started getting better, I knew how I wanted to spend my time - painting and hiking! Over the last few years, as my health has slowly improved, I have been putting my energy into doing precisely those things!
BH: Are you on Instagram? Do you enjoy using the platform? Has it changed the way you interact with an audience, and do you find yourself tempted to produce work especially for an Instagram audience?
Yes, I'm on Instagram - I usually post a couple of times a week. I enjoy sharing my latest paintings on there. As I find people are interested in my practice as well as my artwork, I also share bits of my life, process and progress. Different stages and curiosities from my previous paintings typically inspire my next painting, so I also use my Instagram feed as a visual diary.
I don't do artwork, especially for Instagram. However, I have discovered that work that translates well into a thumbnail-sized image usually gets a better reaction. Instagram can't ever replace seeing work in person, but it is a great communication tool.
BH: Now that the Lockdown restrictions are lifting – if you could be in London for a day, what would your day look like? Where would you go?
Straight away, I would go to some galleries - which ones would depend on their current exhibitions. I love walking, so I'd happily walk around, stopping at little cafes. I'd also watch a show - I love musicals!
I live in Exeter, in Devon, so the journey to London is quite long. Before Covid, I had planned to make an effort to visit every few months to see more exhibitions as I find seeing art in person highly valuable. I always come away with a creative buzz and renewed artistic energy. Hopefully, I can do that this year.
Besides art exhibitions, I'd also like to visit The V&A as I've never been, and I am curious to see what may inspire me there. Also, I'd like to go to the Design Museum. The last time I went was on a college trip when I was 17, so it was a long time since I've been there.
Before I got PoTS, I would go to London for one or two days, and I would rush all over the place, trying to see and do as much as possible. PoTS has taught me to slow down and enjoy the moment. Now when I visit, I do less but absorb more. When I visit London again, I will be really excited and will genuinely appreciate seeing art in person.
BH: Were you able to get to the studio during the Lockdowns, or did you commandeered a room in the house as your Lockdown studio
I am fortunate to have a small home studio, a godsend during the lockdowns. During the first lockdown, I would paint every afternoon and evening after we had finished home-schooling. During the second lockdown, the school work was more time consuming, and the kids needed more support, so I took over a corner of the dining room where I'd paint sporadically in-between helping them. It was not the most inspirational of environments (or times), and when the schools went back, I was raring to paint. I have been in the studio, pretty much, every day since!
BH: What is your favourite work of art in a public collection? Why?
It is a tricky question with many answers, but Matisse's 'L'Escargot' at Tate Modern is a favourite. I enjoy the colours, shapes, movement and scale of the work - I'll happily sit in awe of this work for ages. During my university years, I had Matisse and Miro's prints covering my room walls - my tastes haven't changed much in the last twenty years!
Another pivotal moment was becoming part of a creative community again. Painting can be very insular, and as much as I love that, I also need, and enjoy, the energy and conversations from other creative people. I re-joined Patrick's abstract painting class, and I also joined Instagram. Connecting with other artists makes me feel part of something bigger than my practice.