Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I grew up in South London and briefly left for 3 years to go to Brighton University to study Fine Art: Painting. After that I moved back to London where I made work for a few years, I also attended the Royal Drawing School for a short time. I moved to Canada 2 months ago.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I considered it as an option as a child then by about the age of 13 I was pretty certain. It made those years where young people have lots of pressure put on them by adults to decide their future much easier because I already knew what I was going to do.
What do you like most about working where you do?
London was a great place to work because my art is mostly based on observational drawing so there were of course excellent people watching opportunities and I’m not sure what makes Canada a good place to make art-work yet, apart from there is definitely much more space to make it in.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I’ve had the same process for years, but I’ve only recently managed to articulate to myself (with words) what the subject of my work is. My work is generally concerned with the observation of collective groups of people and their emotional and physical experience of their environment. It took me about 3 years to string that sentence together.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
Geographical change is always a benefit to my practice. As I’ve said my work means I spend a lot of time observing people, so moving to a different continent is excellent for the new things I learn about in people. The people in the part of Canada I’m in fits pretty neatly into the stereotypes and portrayals we receive in the rest of the world about North America.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Someone put latex all over me then cut it off with a real scalpel in a pretend operation and filmed it. I also did a drawing whilst in a swimming pool. The lifeguard came over and asked if I was okay and if I had problems with my mental health.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I have had many jobs that I split my time between, jobs in the art world and jobs far away from it. Generally none of them interfere with my practice much. I find it best to work at anti-social times, it’s hard to stay disciplined as an artist but a good way to go about it is to make yourself purposefully unavailable at times that people would like to see you, and have nothing to do in the days when all of your 9-5 friends are working so you can get on with making art uninterrupted. I would definitely say however some of my friendships have suffered as a result.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I had a really great tutorial once with a visiting tutor (artist Anna Ilsley) in my first year at university. I wasn’t sure what I should be doing, because I thought I was supposed to have a clever idea first then visually pursue it. She told me to stop worrying about it and just go hang out at the swimming pool and draw. That’s basically been the basis of my practice ever since.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
I find exercise to be a good antidote to feeling stuck.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
I would say community is a basic necessity for individuals’ well-being in society. I had a similar stance in regards to art, until I realised I couldn’t afford a studio after university and that I would have to make work by myself at home. It’s not preferable though.
What is your studio like?
I’ve just moved country so don’t have one right now. I’ve got a good balcony though which is filling in well in the meantime.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I am most intelligent between 7.30 and 10 in the morning so I try to get any writing based work done then. After that it’s steadily down-hill but I can make art until about 4 or 5, when my brain turns off entirely. I’ve always thought my early disposition is wasted on my career choice as an artist, because literally no one cares what time I get up. This is very boring but I like to listen to the sound of a fan because it drowns everything else out.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
Art School was mostly a process of exploring ways of making art that didn’t work for me. I guess you have to get that out of the way at some point. I haven’t done an MFA because after my undergraduate I didn’t feel too enthused about getting into even more debt to hang around in a studio for 2 more years and be visited once a term by a tutor. I do plan to do one at some point I think, but I’m not there yet.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
The constant feeling that I could be contributing to society in a more effective way. It’s kind of like a Catholic guilt complex mixed with narcissism.
How would you define “success” in art?
Success is pretty slippery. I have a suspicion that it’s a constantly changing set of achievements that you can never catch up with.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I would say something that I have achieved would be determinedly producing a body of work for a solo show despite not having a studio, or bedroom for that matter. Now I have the pleasure of retrospect AND a bedroom, it’s a valuable piece of knowledge to know how badly I want to make art-work.
What are you working on right now?
I finished a few pieces a couple days ago so nothing right now, but I am thinking about branching into ceramic, I’m planning to make tiles with tessellating bodies on them.