Question, questions – Preparing to exhibit

I’m getting my work together to take part in this years Artists-Connect exhibition. A more compact effort than previous years with 3 artists, its being held at PAPER Arts Gallery right in the middle of Bristol’s Broadmead shopping area. The people running the gallery put in a lot of effort to produce good and interesting social media content and a part of this is a series of questions they’ve sent me, the answers to which will form the basis of the content. Its always good for artists to be questioned and I think it was good for me to have to answer them. I decided to publish the results here. Its seems a more natural way to get some of my ideas across than trying to write a statement from scratch.

3 views posterThe Interview

What is your inspiration behind 3 Views?

I try to organise an exhibition every year for a few of the artists who are part of Artists-Connect. This is a group I’ve brought together whose art is inspired by their views of the environments around them. This year there are 3 of us so the title 3 Views was logical. The term view is also used to describe a landscape so theres a double reference.

What was your goal of 3 Views?

The idea of bringing together a group is to be able to put on an exhibition of a variety of work that will have appeal to a broad spectrum of people. The work is linked by the common thread of expressing attitudes to the environment which, for me, is an important subject encompassing a great number of important and serious issues. Ultimately the goal is to get our work seen and become part of the viewer’s conversation.

Do you have a favourite image? if so, why?

My last image is usually my favourite but only for a while. Not all my paintings or photographs are successful in hindsight but theres often elements that I continue to get satisfaction from. Previous paintings may in turn motivate me to develop a future work.

Where would you say your favourite place was to paint?

Its part of my creative view that I should able to produce a painting that will interest me wherever I set up my kit so I don’t have a favourite place. If I look hard enough there will always be something to surprise and intrigue me and inspire a painting. I’m interested in the small things and the idea is to promote these aspects of the landscape on the principle that everything is important and has its role in the great scheme of the universe. Most of my outdoor paintings are done in the Frome Vale between Snuff Mills and Frenchay near Bristol, a popular area for people to exercise their dogs and children and take in some fresh air.

Is there anything or anyone that you look to for inspiration?

I’ve always found the countryside inspiring because it affects me emotionally. I’m also interested in the way music can get to the emotions. To me this indicates that there is a level of consciousness we don’t control or need to control, just let it be and let it work. I think all the painters I admire tap into this emotional level while being inspired by the real world, mainly David Hockney, Turner and all the Impressionists. The form of my latest studio painting ‘Synapses’ came from doodles I made on my iPad while listening to music by Philip Glass.

You mentioned on your blog that people would stop and comment on your work in progress, what was your best and worst experiences/stories?

People are always intrigued and those who actually approach and talk are complimentary. Of course a lot of people just look and continue on their way so you never know what they’re thinking. I’ve not had any really bad experiences. The worst it gets is when someone evidently has time on their hands and wants a lengthy conversation. The best conversations are when someone wants to know where they can see my finished work. I believe art is a dialogue between the artist and their audience so I think its good to be able to give some background to what you’re doing even if it is one person at a time.

How long does it usually take to paint a 40cm x 40cm painting?

My paintings at this size are the ones I execute outside. That take 3 to 4 hours, any longer than that and the light has changed so radically I might as well start another painting. In the Frome Valley its possible the light might have  gone altogether.

What inspired you to paint?

The act of painting is just interesting. From the youngest age I’ve drawn as part of the way I express myself, it simply seems natural. I gain a great deal of satisfaction from producing an image that is recognisable, whether the place or the person I’m painting. Thats the craft but the inspiration which determines what I paint is an altogether different thing, thats the art. I have a recollection when going through adolescence of a strong desire to share the feeling of places that were affecting me most strongly, wonderful vistas, magnificent trees, dramatic skies. It was a kind of romantic yearning.

How long have you been painting for?

I cant say I’ve painted all my life, but then again I cant specify a year when I started. Creating images has always been part of who and what I am. Drawing has always been important, I’ve taken a lot of photographs and my career has been as a Graphic Designer. I consciously decided to make painting part of my life about 18 years ago.

Do you plan your trips out to paint or are they spontaneous? If you do plan how do you come about it?

I have to plan my trips because I need to put aside the time and make sure I have the time to put aside. Fortunately the locations I use are not far from home so I don’t waste time travelling.

Some of your work is rather abstract, especially your studio paintings – where does your inspiration come from?

The inspiration for my more abstract paintings are my location paintings. They reflect some of the thoughts I have when I’m out and about and sitting studying a subject while I’m painting it. I get angry about a few things and upset or frustrated about others and file these thoughts away. The larger work comes about when a concern has been niggling away in the back of my mind and I find I can marry these with colours and forms that I’ve recorded on location. I let a painting grow as I work at it, with no definite plan as to how the final work will appear. I don’t really think of these paintings as abstract, they’re actually stories set within their own environment and governed by their own rules.

Landscape often seems to be one of your primary subjects – what draws you to nature and the environment?

I think my response to landscape is a primitive force in my mind. I know my mood changes when I walk in the woods or ramble a fell. Therefore I value the natural world. I have this desire to share my experience which I find rather wonderful.

I spotted a quote on your website ”The term global warming was first mentioned in 1975, what’s taking so long” is the Environment something you take concern in?

Overlaid with what I mention above is the frustration, like an unrequited love, that many people don’t appear to share this sensibility or have any interest in understanding or valuing the world around them. This is manifested in many ways at many levels, from the walkers who never look up or around but must have that mobile phone conversation, to the representatives of vested interests and those in thrall to them who deny that human activity is having a detrimental affect on the environment. It doesn’t seem to matter what evidence is laid in from of them, if it affects their ability to make profit they will claim the contrary and they have the money to be able pay people to present counter arguments. Ultimately, the simplest point in my mind is that we need the air we breath to be free of pollution. Going back to the point about even the smallest things playing a role in the universe; the drivers of large vehicles who believe that their adopting more efficient, smaller vehicles wont benefit the environment need to develop a broader, more collective view of their lives and their individual roles in a greater system of cause effect.

You use photography and see many Photographs of events around Bristol and Photos from your trip to Tanzania on your Facebook page, is photography a medium that you have always been interested in?

Photography is an interesting medium that enables an inveterate observer like myself to grab a record of fleeting moments. My Tanzania trip was a great experience, very inspiring and not at all what I had expected, but thats another, longer story.

What is the story behind the name, 3 Views?

Theres 3 of us exhibiting work on a similar theme. The theme being, in the broadest sense, landscape a subject on which we have different views.

Why should people come and see your show?

I think the exhibition should be interesting and stimulating because the work will be varied.

Could you tell me a bit more about you guys, as a collective for this exhibition?

Artists-Connect is a very loose coalition. We’re only really represented by the website and get to meet when we organise an exhibition. Graham Williams is one of the earliest members of the group who I met when we took part in art fairs and markets. We’ve shown our work in Millennium Square at all times of the year, both sunbathing and wrapped in many layers of jackets coats and scarves.

Kate Leney is a relative newcomer to Bristol who I met last year. We exhibited in the crypt of St John’s in the wall. We share an enthusiasm for exhibiting in unusual venues and we are both inspired by trees.

The great thing about being part of a group is the sharing of responsibility for undertaking activities like exhibiting and the sense of common purpose.

Why is art so important?

Art is about ideas, whether painting, music, sculpture or poetry. Artists use their chosen medium to develop a story through which they share their ideas. Distributing and sharing ideas is a valuable thing to do. We can all benefit by exposure to alternative views and ideas that can stimulate and refresh our own.

What do you want to say with your work?

I want to make the point that nothing is so small that its unimportant.

Paintings ready for 3 views exhibition at PAPER Arts Gallery, Bristol

New paintings wrapped and ready to go to the 3 Views exhibition.

PAPER Arts Gallery – www.papercic.org.uk

Graham Williams

Kate Leney

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