Phaedra, 153 x 178 cm,acrylic gouache,
spray paint & household laquers on canvas, 2010
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I am returning to a larger format landscape canvas which I am trying out some new ideas on. I have just completed a small work for a show called 100 Mothers curated by Harry Pye and am battling with some canvases that have been challenging me for a while. I am playing with Helen Frankenthaler inspired wet in wet washes and being more free than normal with formats and outcomes.
Can you describe your working routine?
I don’t have a particular routine although in quite a Gilbert and George fashion the things I do before and after I leave the studio are quite ritualised (usually in terms of food and hot drinks). I think this helps one deal with the intensity and the unknown that the studio holds. I start to work as soon as I get in there either with the mundane aspects of the stretching and priming or the projecting and drawing up of the pixels. When I am in the midst of a painting it can be very fast and frenetic. As they progress and resolving them becomes more elusive, time is spent just sitting and looking. Paintings are faced against the wall when they feel unresolvable. The studio is very sparse in terms of home comforts just a kettle and little else.
work in progress
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
My studio is an Acme space in an old factory building in Deptford (a former ships' propeller foundry), its wonderful there because where it is is pretty desolate so in that way it is quite a haven. Its rough and ready with patched up broken windows and a very distressed floor. I can make as much mess as I like which is important to me. It is in what I consider to be a brutal yet beautiful urban environment and this informs my work to a degree. Although I love it for the solitude I have also been fortunate enough to meet some very interesting other artists there who have been very supportive and inspiring.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc
I start my paintings on an antiquated computer drawing program. The pixelated lines are carefully edited, projected and drawn with pencil onto the canvas creating a grid or skeleton. This drawing creates a structure that can be disrupted using analogue gesture such as choreographed drips and sprayed marks. The mark making explores the intersection of something that is visceral with something that is controlled and designed. I use metallic sprays, garage door paint, Japlac high gloss enamels, Hammerite, Japanese acrylic gouache and oil paint. In some parts the paintings are flat, stark and graphic. In other parts paint drips voluptuously over the drawn lines, breaking the spacial arrangement and reopening the composition. I imagine the structures are taken to a point of collapse hanging by their own pixelated threads.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
Pretty much everything! it’s mentally all consuming at the moment. I feel like my brain is racing ahead and I am trying to catch up with the progress in my thoughts in formal terms. There is a shift in the work, I am interested in making the work more spare and reductive and focusing more on the romantic element to the paintings. I am experimenting with new materials and palettes and creating unexplored compositions in terms of the original drawings.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I always clung to familiar parameters in terms of materials and was very rigorous about this. I worked always with Japanese Acrylic Gouache, household paints (B&Q garage door paint being a favourite) and montana sprays. Of late however I have opened up to new ways of working and new materials. I have been working with oil paints for the first time, although I still work with the gouache for wet in wet “grounds”. I am working with new palettes and have just discovered white gloss paint as opposed to my traditional black. It feels uneasy to veer away from the familiar but necessary also.
What does the future hold for this work?
I have a sense that it is on the edge of something new, it is unknown but open and full of possibilities.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you so much for asking me to do this interview.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
260 x 169cm, acrylic gouache, spray paint
& household laquers on canvas, 2010