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JASMINE COLLINGS | LIAM COLLINS | AUDREY KAY DOWLING | MARTHA ELLIS | QI FANG SANDRA GEA | ANGELICA GUERRERO | STUART JONES | PATRICIA FIGUEIREDO MARK LLOYD | CARMEL LOUISE | THOMAS PETTIS | BRANDON SAUNDERS BEN SNOWDEN | TANSY TESTER | FRANCES WILLOUGHBY | O. YEMI TUBI

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FEATURED ARTIST: FRANCES WILLOUGHBY

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LIAM (LEE) COLLINS

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TREE TIME

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JASMINE COLLINGS

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AUDREY KAY DOWLING

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MARTHA ELLIS

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QI FANG

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SANDRA GEA

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ANGELICA GUERRERO

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STUART JONES

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PATRICIA FIGUEIREDO

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MARK LLOYD

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CARMEL LOUISE

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THOMAS PETTIS

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BRANDON SAUNDERS

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BEN SNOWDEN

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TANSY TESTER

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FRANCES WILLOUGHBY

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O. YEMI TUBI

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FRANCES WILLOUGHBY FEATURED ARTIST

Frances Willoughby is a British artist born in Bristol in 1996, recently graduated with a First Class BA (hons) in Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth (AUB). She predominately works with sculpture and collage using a mixture of found objects and images. Her work explores themes such as memory, nostalgia and the uncanny.

More at pages: 102-107


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LIAM COLLINS Artist & Sculptor

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I’m a chelsea born, celebrity up-cycler from Discovery channel’s “fix your house for free” with Tommy Walsh and artist made from recycled materials recently displayed at the Lighthouse Gallery in Wolverhampton, the 44AD gallery Bath, the Seas gallery brighton, A and R Gallery Birmingham, crypt gallery Eusten, well space gallery Hackney, all with a view to raising awareness for the preservation of the environment and nature. I display works made from recycled materials, including a sound interactive piece that engages with the audience. Entitled “Cicada Guitar” it is a forest bird song playing guitar that silences itself when approached. This piece is designed to provoke critical thinking around nature’s genius at camouflage in order to survive. This show was curated by J Valentino, the creator of the ‘Millionaires club’.

‘Not my type 1’ is a contemporary form of art that relates

to the demise of the once formidable typewriter. Born in the Victorian era at the end of the industrial revolution paved the way for the fast approaching electric typewriter and the computer age. A homage to Christopher Sholes, It is a series of old rusty typewriters drowning in a sea of fossilized marble. This innovative machine reshaped the way we communicate, from the humble letter into a lightning speed futuristic form of communication. Exciting the Victorian era, this incredible machine was once considered the cutting edge of future technology and greased the cogs for the fast approaching modern computer.

‘Dragonfly’

is a piece made from early cultivating rotor blades mounted on an old Georgian Manhole cover. This piece symbolizes the metamorphosis that takes place during the changes in technology over time. From the Aphid to the dragonfly. Explosive fuels to electricity and renewable energy, that lightbulb moment leaves a lonely space, the old making way for the new, allowing the other threads and links to take place, culminating in the new technological rebirth.

‘Curators Dream’

is one of the most amazing and original art pieces. It truly is an incredible work of originality to emerge. It is a beautiful sublime mechanical device that pays homage to Huygens as the inventor of the gravity pendulum. It is a journey that evokes emotional reflection and thought for the pursuit of perpetual knowledge. The drive block is a replica of Christian Huygens pendulum clock which is bolted to the wall. The beautiful pendulum is attached to it and sways silently in front of the large gold ornate frame where the viewer is hypnotised by its sway. It then draws in the onlooker into the higher self, resonating with the power of the universe. The swaying Pendulum is a thought-provoking sight to the viewer. The experience is engaging and fun. But of course, the piece has been created with very deep meaning and expression. It aims to educate the participant into connecting with the higher fields of energy, that leads us to the universal power that wishes to serve us. As the pendulum moves slowly in front of us, time stands still. No future and no past. Only the present, because reality can only exist in the present moment. 5

The future and past are illusions. This portal, to another dimension, is a gift to all who wish to embark on a sublime journey of self-discovery to a higher level. A place where you may wish to create all things positive in the world. To bypass greed, jealousy and destruction and move us forward through this creative quantum spirit that was passed


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down to us by great knowledgeable people from the past. Quantum power and subconscious thought are forms of energy that communicate freely and are in harmony with each other. This power moves through time and space like dark energy. It also answers many of the complexities and mysteries with regards to the incomprehensibility of the universe. Thinking this way will allow us to evolve intellectually much quicker in understanding the meaning of what it is, on the other side of the universe. Function: It is a clock gear functioning moving pendulum mechanism that swings in front of a large guided ornate frame. The playful twist is, it requires no explanation. It is up to the viewer to make of it what they will upon seeing it. They will be provocatively drawn into it and through their own intellectual curiosity, seek to know what it is about. The Curator will not have to explain this work of art. It’s his ‘Dream piece’.

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My work:

Aims to evoke creative critical thinking through the search of progressive knowledge, emulating the thought processes these people went through. This includes the deep wisdom and insight that led them to become the early inventors and architects of Astrophysics that touched upon the quantum world. Curators Dream is a hypnotic portal that represents change if desired. The hypnotic mechanical swinging Pendulum and clock gears, lend themselves to the powerful changes that take place by way of positive thinking. Thus allowing the imagination to manifest new ideas into reality.

Life Experience:

My creativity is drawn from my unusual life experiences. Raised in children’s homes as an abandoned child, to being kidnapped and spirited abroad where at 12 years old, where I was forced to beg on the streets of Athens. to survive. Smuggled away on a boat to Crete, i lived in the Caves of Minoan Tombs in Matala living off the land. Spending 3 years living amongst wanted people and German Hippies, i found solace in the ancient monuments around him, nature and the sky at night. I eventually hitchhiked back from Greece through communist Yugoslavia all the way to London by myself at 14 years old.

TV:

My work has featured all over Europe and North East USA where he made ice totem sculptures on Native American historical sites. Where I eventually branched out into the media world where and created a Television show for Discovery channel that showcased my skills as a professional recycler, up-cycler with building skills too. I have also worked with Celebrity presenter Dominic Littlewood whose show is dedicated to catching fly tippers and other people who dump waste in the streets. I was called in to help assemble the dumped materials which were up-cycled and sold to the public as part of the show. Amongst many other projects, my recent Cicada Guitar sound piece that has just showcased at the Lighthouse Gallery in Wolverhampton and at the Cotswold Sculpture Park exhibition, UK. I now look to expand my horizons into areas that may reflect the deeper meanings and connectivity between philosophy with nature and the quantum world of expression

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Tree Time Curated by Daniela Berta and Andrea Lerda Museo Nazionale della Montagna - CAI Torino 30.10.2019 - 23.02.2020

Museomontagna is delighted to announce the opening of its Tree Time exhibition at 6 pm on Tuesday 29 October. This project follows on from a process initiated in 2018 to explore the major environmental issues of which the mountain habitat is a protagonist in this early part of the 21st century. The exhibition route focuses on trees, woods and forests, their protective role, their development as they adapt to a constantly changing environment and their growing fragility, caused by direct human actions and the secondary effects of ongoing climate change.

From Storm Adrian – which tore down entire forests in northern Italy in 2018– to the unprecedented wildfires that have recently devastated the Arctic. From arson at the service of industrial agendas to the deforestation of the Amazon Forest that is wiping out biodiversity and cultural habitats, aggravating the release of CO2 into the atmosphere and accelerating global warming. Drawing on these recent events, Tree Time raises a number of questions on forest management and caring for the mountain environment, on plant health and on communication strategies in the event of parasitic attack. It examines the legacy of global warming and current anthropic dynamics, and their role in accentuating the pathogenic mechanisms that have, for some time, been endangering the integrity of vegetal ecosystems. On a varied and inter-generational route where paintings and photographs dialogue with audio and video works, sound installations and site-specific interventions, Tree Time takes visitors on a journey that begins in the present and looks to the future by drawing on the experience of the past. The whole narration revolves around two occurrences that bring fresh relevance to the concept of caring for trees, forests and the mountain environment as a whole. 10


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Gabriela Albergaria, Luca Andreoni, Paola Angelini, Thomas Berra, Joseph Beuys, Ursula Biemann and Paulo Tavares, Walter Bonatti, Gabriella Ciancimino, Aron Demetz, Hannes Egger, Ilkka Halso, Helen Mayer Harrison & Newton Harrison, Fosco Maraini, Marzia Migliora, Uriel Orlow, Sunmin Park, Giuseppe Penone, Steve Peters, Giusy Pirrotta, Craig Richards, Vittorio Sella, Giorgia Severi, Wolfgang Tillmans and Santeri Tuori

The project casts a bridge back in history to the foundation of the Associazione Pro Montibus per la protezione delle piante e per favorire il rimboschimento (an association championing plant protection and reforestation) established in Turin in 1898 and the first Festa degli Alberi (National Tree Planting Day) celebrated at the Palestra of the Club Alpino Italiano at the Monte dei Cappuccini in Turin on 18 September of the same year. The exhibition emphasises the twofold value of the concept of care in the human/tree relationship at this particular moment in time and allocates space to the extraordinary persona of Ermene-

gildo Zegna, his “eco-mindset” and his impressive achievements in tree planting and the promotion and management of the mountain environment around Trivero (Biella) from the 1930s on.

of the Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab and Adjunct Professor at the Environmental Science, Policy and Management Department of the University of California.

Curated by Daniela Berta and Andrea Lerda, Tree Time presents works by 20 international artists in dialogue with significant photographs and historic documents belonging to the Museomontagna Centro Documentazione and Biblioteca Nazionale del CAI.

The project also avails of the precious collaboration of the Assessorato alle Politiche per l’Ambiente of the Città di Torino, the Centro di Competenza per l’Innovazione in Campo Agro-ambientale Agroinnova of the University of Turin, the Orto Botanico di Torino, the Istituto per le piante da legno e l’ambiente (IPLA) of Turin, Fondazione Zegna and Fondazione Edmund Mach of Trento.

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On the occasion of the Tree Time exhibition, and thanks to the collaboration with L’Artistica Savigliano, the Museomontagna publishes the first catalog of art in Italy made of Stone Paper 100% TreeFree. The highly innovative material consists of 80% stone (calcium carbonate) with a small amount (20%) of high density polyethylene (HDPE) used as a binder. 100% water repellent, durable, does not require chemical treatments to be carried out. Furthermore, the production process of Stone Paper does not use water or polluting materials. Stone Paper’s carbon footprint is 67% lower than that of traditional paper and no tree is cut down to produce this material.

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The exhibition will be accompanied by a Public Programme held throughout the exhibition period. In conjunction with Tree Time, the Museomontagna Cinema is showing Radico Ergo Sum, a special photographic tree project by Tiziano Fratus in which this celebrated writer presents a selection of photographs taken on his many trips worldwide visiting the most fascinating monumental trees. This moving visual narration dialogues with his poems, writings and materials.


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JASMINE COLLINGS

Somerset, UK


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Who or what has had a lasting effect on your practise?

In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture?

On my foundation art course I was introduced to printmaking. I was immediately addicted. I had a very charismatic print teacher and her love of the subject filtered through to me. The sound of the machinery and the smell of the inks is my passion. Since then I went on to study a specialised printmaking course and never looked back! I have been inspired by the velvety black that comes from mezzotint and monoprint. The juxtaposition of lengthy, devised methods and loose experimental ones.

I believe that art has always been a way of expressing emotion. People have used this medium for many years to showcase their political views, their fantasies and their dreams. I think that the difference today is that there is a far wider audience. Everything that gets made can be seen by the masses, it can be used as a tool. For example, I have noticed a surge in feminist and LGBT art. Where people are joining as a community to express the way they feel and share their opinions with each other.

What is the most challenging part of being an artist?

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

For me it is knowing how to push yourself forwards and believing in yourself. Although I have been very proactive lately, directly after university was a different story, I found it a real struggle to make any work. During the first year out, I barely did any artwork and instead whiled away the hours in a hospitality job. Although to begin with I was glad for the break from my creative pursuits I quickly became bored, lacking inspiration and time to make art.

Living in the countryside a lot of the artwork is animal portraiture. However there has been a surge in artists lately. Since the opening of a Hauser and Wirth Gallery in Bruton there has been galleries, pop ups, creative spaces and workshops. Living close to Bristol means that there is a thriving art scene just an hour away. Also, there is a large printmaking community there thanks to Spike Island, the largest open access printmaking studio in the south west.

Three years since having left university, I had been eyeing up a printmaking studio in Brighton. However the application form had scared me off as it had questions about group shows, solo shows and what personal talents you could bring to the studio. At the time I felt that I had nothing to offer, but one of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t have the courage to apply sooner.

Name three artists you admire

A piece of advice that a friend and alumni gave me is ‘ fake it til you make it’ because you don’t get if you don’t ask, and you don’t ask if you have no self-confidence. Realising this was a key factor in my successes post university and moving forward.

Annette Messager: I really admire the work of Annette Messager. Her piece My Vows, is a firm favourite of mine. It is a large-scale photomontage comprised of closeups of the body. Her work even though she uses quite graphic imagery doesn’t scream sexual it is a realistic depiction of the human body. A mixture of grotesque, sexual and mundane. She often uses materials that have a female sensibility to challenge the stereotypes of gender. Man Ray: I love his photographs and photograms. His surrealist style is oddly

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beautiful. I think the art that I love is that which mixes beauty and the uncanny, and for me he does this perfectly. I find very interesting the way that he has concealed images inside his photographs, for example the piece Anatomies, which is both a neck and a phallic symbol in one simple photograph. Ivan Bautista: This is a contemporary artist from Mexico. Having travelled there a couple of years ago I was blown away by the printmaking scene in Oaxaca. The people there were using printmaking as a tool to voice their political opinions. There was studio after studio in the town centre, so many in fact that you got given a passport and told to collect a stamp from each one. There was printed posters lining the walls of the town and all of them with a message. This printmaker is slightly more subtle with his message. He creates these astounding images of people that are close to him. I feel as though his work somehow captures the soul of the people he is working on. His use of aquatint is incredible and he is an inspiration to my future works. What are you future plans? I would like to open a printmaking studio that could facilitate my love for printmaking whilst introducing the art to others. The aim is to run a successful studio where I could continue researching new methods, practicing old ones and teaching my favourites. Opening a business is a daunting idea, but one that fills me with joy (even if there is a lot of paperwork!) This is quite a few years off, but for now I am honing my printmaking skills and practising workshops to see what works best. At the same time as this I will be applying to open calls, and working on a variety of new pieces including a larger scale piece.


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instagram.com/jasmine.collings

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AUDREY KAY

DOWLING

Westfield, NY, USA

Artists have always been recorders of the times in which they live and predictors of the future. By looking at the overall art trends you can assess what was going on during the time the artist works. Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? My art practice is driven by several things. They include the ability to work for long periods of time in my studio by myself, the continual lifelong search of the natural environment, travels, and visiting art museums and reading artist biographies.

ture explorations a significant part of my life. While camping in the back country woods and national parks my paints and art materials are carried with me to capture plein air moments. For many years I walked or skied the trails back through our own 20 acres almost daily. I am an observer and a recorder of nature.

Working for long periods of time in my studio spaces is crucial for my art making practice. Because I like solitude when I work, I find my time I spend in the studio as almost meditative. It is important to me to show up to my art making practice almost daily.

My parents moved from our small rural area to New York City when I was in high school. This gave me an opportunity to wander the streets, nip into galleries and museums and pick up the urban vibe which added to who I became. Because of this time, I was able to make the conscious choice to locate into a more rural region where nature was more directly accessible.

As an avid hiker and birdwatcher since childhood I am deeply influenced by the natural environments that I find myself in. Raised on 52 acres of woods that included three creeks, I think I had the most ideal childhood environment to explore. I have continued to make na-

I have found a few artists whose work and art practices I really respect. I am particularly drawn to artists who practice with a sense of authenticity and voice in their work. David Hockney, Lucien Freud, Alice Neel, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo, Emily Carr, the Group of


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In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

Seven painters Tom Thompson and Lauren Harris immediately come to mind, but there are too many painters to mention all whose work speaks to me. Sculptors Andy Goldsworthy, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth come to the top of my list of sculptors whose work inspires and moves me. I also have spent considerable time working in the field of ceramic art and again have several mentor artists in that field. Printmaking also inspires me. I have read many artist’s biographies and find their lives fascinating. I started to notice that many of my favorite painters also explored printmaking and ceramic mediums as part of their life’s work. Knowing this gave me the space I needed to explore art materials freely, which is what I do.

Artists have always been recorders of the times in which they live and predictors of the future. By looking at the overall art trends you can assess what was going on during the time the artist works. Because artists and creatives view the world from a different lens, they have much to share about contemporary culture. Right now some artists are exploring lots of new interactive mediums, creating installations about their view of life and challenging the viewers to question what they thought was truth. Mixed in there are still many artists who are turning to more tradition mediums to express their own voices. Whereas many artists get stuck in a groove that doesn’t involve much self exploration that speaks to contemporary life, the ones whose work interests me are the artists who take my understanding of reality and tweak it in ways I didn’t understand before examining their work. I try to do that also with my own work. Although usually using tradition mediums, it is my goal to wake up my viewers to combinations of the natural world in ways that aren’t just representations of what I see, but more expressive interpretations. My own work is a wake up call to everyone to take care of the natural environment and to see its interactions and inherent beauty. Artists can respond to the times in which they are working and bring attention to the changes needed by the issues of their time.

I am inspired by nature and motivated by the creative challenge of using multiple mediums to convey my message of the joy and beauty of natural environments. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? The most challenging part of being an artist is time management. Given my ideal choice, I would spend every working moment in my clay and 2D studios. But, to be an active artist, I also need to make sure that collectors get the opportunity to see what I am creating and that takes computer time, time preparing for shows, paperwork in applying for grants and other art opportunities, and time I spend running my art gallery. I also spend time developing an ever expanding art vocabulary that stays contemporary and for this I need to participate and attend art shows whenever possible, attend workshops with artists whose work I respect, visit galleries, talk to other artists and read reviews of contemporary artist’s shows. Then, of course there is the challenge of bookkeeping, which, although not difficult, is time consuming.

How do you describe the art scene in your area? The art scene in my area is surprisingly artistically sophisticated for a rural upstate New York area. The artists are connected, especially the female artists of our region. We have several local artist groups and alliances. We have several art galleries in our region. There are are both publicly funded and private art

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galleries, like my own, Portage Hill Art Gallery (www.portagehillgallery.com) which I have run for 37 years. In our region, we also have Chautauqua Institution, which is a world renowned cultural center active with speakers and many arts activities every summer. In addition, we have the State University of New York at Fredonia which specializes in music and the performance arts. The University also has an active gallery and art department. This area is located an hour from Buffalo, which has a very quickly developing international art scene in which I have become quite actively engaged. This region is also

within a few hours drive to Toronto, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Rochester. All these cities have major art galleries and urban experiences that many artists in the local art community explore. So we are beautifully located in a region that has ample opportunities for exploring the arts. In addition, New York City is a quick plane trip as is Boston. When I find myself in need of an urban fix my husband and I head to one of these regional areas. And, of course, many of us go to major art locations outside this region and follow the international art scene via reading and the internet.

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Name three artists you admire: Although, it is difficult for me to narrow the artists I admire down to just three. So I will focus on the art practices of three artists who continue to inspire me. I admire Emily Carr because she was a wanderer through the Canadian Northern lands as she documented and painted the Haida culture as it existed in her time. She was quite fearless in her painting adventures. For example, on her own Emily took a caravan into the back country woods. Also she rode the mailboat into far northern Canada to paint. This fearless attitude infused and informed her art and is very inspiring.

career and after my children grew up into their own lives. I find Lee’s work inspiring because she refused to lock into just one way to convey her artistic message. She moved through different art phases while maintaining a consistent high level of art techniques. This is important to me also. What are you future plans: My plans for the future include increasing international exposure for my work, increasing my collector base and continuing to work daily in my studios. I am blessed with a natural high level of energy and I use it!

Andy Goldsworthy’s work inspires me because it brings me back to my childhood when strings of floating leaves and hollyhock flowers and towers of rocks and ice patterns on the creeks fascinated me. It would have never occurred to me to think of this in terms of an art practice, but his work is very stimulating to me for just that reason. Although I do not work the same way he does, it reminds me that there are no limits to the definition of art materials and art practices and permanence is not always necessary. His ability to find natural beauty as it exists and to take it further is just wonderful to me. Lee Krasner’s life and way of working also inspires me. I, like her, spent part of my life putting my art practice somewhat on hold as I focused more on the needs of my family members. Although there was never a time I wasn’t a practicing artist, my years as a Mom, a teacher and a gallerist impacted my daily art practice. Like Lee I did move forward in a more deliberate manner with my own work after I finished my teaching

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MARTHA

ELLIS

Edinburgh, Scotland, UK


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? Since my BA in Fine Art I have been obsessed with the work of Michael Craig-Martin, he is an artist I keep revisiting for inspiration time and again. I love the way he reduces complex imagery into simplified shapes and colour, taking out what isn’t needed but still resulting in a punchy bold drawing or sculpture. I particularly like how mundane objects are used, he amplifies their beauty, by placing them out of context and playing with scale he makes you see things in a completely different light. I channel my ‘inner Craig-Martin’ when up against a creative challenge. This concept of simplification is a constant in my work, because I work with the laser technology and cut my drawings from a single piece of MDF, I need to turn extremely complex imagery into a positive/ negative composition. This part of my process takes the most amount of time, working out what stays and what is to be cut away. But revisiting work by

Craig-Martin, I learn how he turns intricate three-dimensional objects into a flat drawing that still gives the illusion of depth. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? I think my biggest challenge so far was making the decision to pursue my art on a more full-time basis. I had worked as a secondary school art teacher in London for ten years, a job which I adored but always felt I needed time for my own practice. During this time in school I was introduced to laser technology and got hooked! I worked part time for a few years, during which time I saved money to set up a studio and worked on refining my skills with the laser. Leaving the comfort and security of steady income (and great holidays!) to set up a studio in Edinburgh was a huge and scary leap. I still find at points it difficult to be self-employed, it is not as easy to switch off from work, there are so many things you must do other than making your art. The admin side of being an artist was a bit of a shock, I think I was naive in many ways to the reality for being a self-employed artist, but its most certainly been worthwhile and I wouldn’t change things at all. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art is integral to contemporary culture, it challenges us, educates us, entertains us and can be a form of escapism from the sometimes-crazy world we are currently living in! Having taught art for so many years, I was disheartened that some schools are having to face horrible choices of which creative subject(s) to axe as they cannot afford to keep them all running. Creativity is the backbone of a happy and successful society and it should be preserved at all cost. I am worried that the next generation of artists are at such a huge disadvantage and I am concerned what the knock-on effect will be. Contemporary culture needs to start at the grass roots, so attitudes in education need to shift for the sake of the artists of the future. I feel we have amazing facilities to view and

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experience art and contemporary culture within our towns and cities, but if children are not confident in viewing art and lack engagement due to reduced art education, then these brilliant galleries and museums will not feel approachable to children. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Edinburgh is a fantastic city for art and culture in general. With a large number of outstanding galleries from the Jupitar Artland, National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, City Art Gallery and Modern One, plus all the independent gallery’s along Dundas Street. Edinburgh and Scotland have a huge creative community, with many different studio complexes which often have open studio days/weekends. I feel my move north from London came at the perfect time to start my art career. Edinburgh feels more like a village compared to the vastness of London but still has the concentration of talent like any other capital city. It has allowed me to meet lots of incredible artist, all of which have been super friendly and helpful. Giving advice and guidance to someone just starting out on their creative journey. Name three artists you admire. Michael Craig-Martin Zadok Ben-David Jenny Smith What are your future plans? I am currently Artist in Residence at Edinburgh Academy, during my time there I have been exploring working at a larger scale and stepping away from using laser technology. I absolutely love the style of my work and the challenge of working in positive/negative space, but I feel when I use the laser to cut out my drawing, I miss the subtle changes which occur when cutting by hand. I am experimenting with new materials and processes to create much larger pieces. My future plan is to create more hand cut work and maybe step away from editioned pieces. I have also been investigating the possibility of making more site-specific large-scale drawings. Whatever I create I want to maintain my signature floating aesthetic, the drawings are hung directly onto the wall where they cast beautiful shadows which vary depending on strength of light, cloud or time of day, a deliberately interactive and living aspect to my art.

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QI FANG

Newcastle, UK / China

Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? My art journey starts with dealing with some conflicts in my life, the need to identify my identity and to search alternative meanings of life beyond the enforced unified social model in my youth. Many of my video installations and drawings have been deeply inspired and fueled by the rapidly transforming but conflicting and problematic social environment in which communities in developing worlds face, resulting in physical and mental challenges and complete disorientation. The forced eviction of my family in North China a couple of years ago is a lasting emotion that inspired my video installation The Outsiders (2016), which can be seen as a summary of my self-conversion attempting to re-locate the disoriented self during this turbulent life change. The Chinese political change of Opening Up in the late 1990s from the ‘planned economy’ to the ‘market economy’ was a significant factor in the collapse of this community culture in North China where I lived. Dramatic economic development brought about a massive city renewal that largely erased these communities from the map. Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes for the reformation of the city and immigrate to unknown destinations. Before being suddenly torn down, my home, like many others, was built in the 1970s and was designed to reflect the ‘planned economic’ and unified collectivist ideology. It used to be a typical collectivist community of flats accommodating thousands of workers of the nearby college. Our life was shaped and structured in a tightly knit community between individuals and generations of families in a small area. These collectivist communities were connected to each other, unified by their workplace and family activities. Every day the residents left home together and worked in the same place close to their accommodation, much like people did in Britain after the industrial revolution. After work, they went home with their workmates who were also their neighbours. Their children went to the same schools and would carry on working in the same place as their parents. Everyone was familiar with their neighbours’ homes as every flat had the same structure. Each person was a cell of the collective and was relatively isolated from the world outside. However, it was not until my family and the many others were given a sudden eviction notice and plans of a new town, we realised how fragile this solid-looking community was. In a couple of months, the seven tower blocks around us were demolished into a pile of bricks under our nose. We cooked, as usual, looking through the window to see how excavators tore down the familiar walls covered by ivies and pulled out the steel spines of the build-


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ings. Our interior life was never so exposed to the public. The urgency forced our neighbours to use handcarts to transport their cherished beds and belongings. Beloved armchairs were thrown out of the window of the 5th floor and shattered on the ground. Workmen were tearing out the metal windows of our neighbour, as we sat down to eat our lunch, whilst clouds of concrete dust fell into our bowls.

Like sand, I have been blown away by a blast. In the reformed city, everyone is an outsider. My city became alien to its local inhabitants, cutting itself off from any visual, audio and physical contact with its recent history. Our past left no trace on this planet and will leave none in the future. Memories die quickly with the disappearing landscapes and the migrating people, which leaves little time to reflect on our living history, which is so crucial in tracing who we are.

Our homes were turned inside out, exposing the most tender parts to the public. The windows became large holes through which we could see people’s bedrooms. My friend’s newly refurnished white walls were doodled with paint without mercy. We had to abandon our belongings behind, and many of the beloved furniture sat helpless in the rain. A hundred doors, window frames and sinks were knocked down with hammers and piled up in a hill of inanimate objects to be shipped to the recycling sites.

This experience of great physical mental toil settles down deep in my mind with unforgettable visual memories, which became a strong calling for visual representations. Making video installations and drawing gave me a chance to think through this stormy tragic phenomenon. My drawing process is normally very long, which enables me to rethink and re-feel from the imagined perspectives of various people there. It was a mental journey of transformation. The drawings on paper were mostly made randomly, while I did select the most suitable ones for the video installation.

The destination of the people made homeless was unknown. Some squeezed into the home of their friends and families. The others were desperate to rent a new home 100 miles away from the old home.

Many figures or spaces in my drawings are arranged against logic, while to me they look so realistic due to my irrational and chaotic life change. I deeply admire the Chinese Nobel Prize in Literature winner novelist Mo Yan’s hallucinatory realism novels, for example Frog (2009), Republic of Wine (1992) and Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out (2006), as well as British novelist Virginia Woolf ’s short stream of consciousness novel The Mark on the Wall (1919). They all reflect on some truth of our life, a status beyond the control and norms of the ideal orders and disciplines, a fact of the mutual-tangled tasks and desires, where the ridiculous and absurd win over the imagined social doctrines.

The dramatic sudden eviction of the communities over the past 20 years has pushed the highly collective lifestyle to another extreme of disconnection. This city-wide emigration broke down the solid mutual dependence of the people and allowed new blood to mix in. While, it unsettled many from their roots and forced them to redefine and reform their identities, propelling them into the unknown and uncertainty, a promising but remote future without enough financial and mental preparation.

Like many characters and objects created and described by Mo Yan and Woolf, they invite the audience into a role-play, my animations and drawings love to use realistic figures. While they were not keys to a solution, nor an answer to my narrative. They intend to lead the audience into the unknown illogical reality, trap them there and push them to find solutions. My animations and drawings were made to gaze, which attempts to lock the audience in a shared power with the characters stepping out from their stories.

The bonds which linked communities together in their individual districts of the city were significantly challenged when their old homes were torn down and replaced with new buildings. The tight-knit, mutual-dependency between neighbours was deconstructed, forcing them to become isolated individuals trying to adapt to a strange, alien, fast-changing and chaotic environment. Now everyone had to adapt to their new environments, equally being ‘outsiders’ to each other. 34


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I have never found abstract art is suitable to my expression, or maybe I haven’t found a way into it. The figurative elements on the paper and screen make me feel alive, connected with my past, and brave to face the dark side of humanity, while ironically, I do feel powerless in reality. Art is not a cure for real problems. While at least it does remind me to acknowledge the complexity of human society and the smallness of an individual.

I began to be aware of my skill and that art didn’t bring me praise but more reasons for rejections. There were invisible boundaries called authorities and norms standing between me and the others. I still have a fresh memory in which I was made to sit next to a bin at the back of the high-school classroom as the teacher knew that I decided to learn art in the university. I was also set up to fail a ‘creative’ computer test as I made a poster which was slightly different from the others! Walking on the street with school friends, I often met adults with their children who avoided me, simply because they believed doing art would spread ‘not good’ ideas to them. Talking with nephews about art was often stopped with me being told off by the elders and not to ‘disturb them with your strange opinions’.

What is the most challenging part of being an artist? Making fine art is a part of my life, which shapes who I am. Whilst trying to be an artist is always challenging, especially though as a mid-aged female artist in a highly collective cultural environment in an undeveloped area of China. A child may not realise whether they will carry on doing their childhood creative hobbies and turn it to a life-long faith or career. The process of being an artist, identifying and re-defining the boundaries and connections with the public is not an easy job but a life-long exploration. The joy of creation, expression, the knowledge gained from questioning and encountering unexpected discoveries outweighs the stresses and doubts from those who value norms and conventions.

The clear hierarchy of different subjects in schools built a solid, unbreakable impression that art is toxic and negative. Common sense dominated the schools that only mathematics, science and engineering are the useful and powerful ‘high knowledge’, while art and humanity subjects are simply for those who were not intelligent enough to be a scientist. Those who poked a toe in art were seen as being secondary, low ranking and disrespectful. For quite a long period as a student, I was made to believe I was low in intelligence and doomed to have a poor life in the future.

For a contemporary artist, in my mind, needs the enthusiasm to push the boundaries, to question the norms accepted by the most, looking for alternative perspectives on topics which may not seem worthy to many others. Learning art has been a great challenge to me, as I was not privileged to live in an art-friendly environment in my hometown in China. The city dominated by coal mining and steel industry shed little light on my creative pursuits. The highly enclosed, isolated and conservative social atmosphere showed little tolerance on the individual difference. The collective culture attempted to unify everybody and mould them into the right shape for the social structure. Being different was viewed in this society as being a threat, or a criminal who may challenge the norms and disciplines.

Art is my safety rope which I use to climb out of the dark well to explore and begin new adventures. However, I often sink into a self-contradictory mood for the desire to express myself freely whilst at the same time fearing judgement and being seen by the audience. In this sense, I often doubted my identity as an artist, as I was not brave enough to show some of my works in public. Like many of my drawings reflecting many social phenomenons in China, some more political works are locked in my studio sleeping in the darkness. I and my friends could be the only audience. I don’t like this situation, while I still believe one day, I can overcome it to be freer and less hesitant. The audience are crucial to artworks, especially for video installation artists who heavily rely on the audience’s interaction to be accomplished. When I started making video installations

The passion to master artistic skills and the pursuits of art separated and marginalised me from the many. At a very young age, 35


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space due to the isolation of a minority culture of the black diaspora. In the projection of film Ceremony (2018, ibid), British multi-medium artist Phil Collins encourages us to think about how space and distance block and shape people’s impression on the politic faith by documenting the journey to ship Engels’ statue from a Russian village to Manchester. Through the rough or delicate expressions, the audience gains a chance to know the life beyond our reality, and to understand the possibilities of alternative perspectives and the limits of ourselves.

five years ago, I felt the unprecedented challenge. In The Outsiders (2015) where the room was ‘transformed’ to a ‘story’ with characters ‘walking’ out of the screens, the audience has a deep physical immersion into the narratives. In the semi-darkness illuminated by the pale lights of the projections, I could see how the audience moved across the gaps of the screens, looking up and down, searching for their answers. It means to expose more of the artist to the public, as the audience’s unpredictable moves left little space to hide the vulnerable parts of the story. Unlike a narrative drawing/painting which imply the story/stories with gestures and expression of characters in the two-dimensional pictorial space, this installation doesn’t rely on the trained eyes to appreciate it. It gives the viewers a chance of literal sensations. The muscles on the legs work to help the viewer to reach different parts of the space, rather than imagining him/herself going into the landscape of painting. This to some extent requires me to simplify arrangements and contents. Indeed, the pictorial contents in this video installation are much simpler than those in my other drawings, while it may make it more obscure to read.

The ambiguity of the installation is a great treasure to me, as it guarantees the discursive expression and keeps the moderate distance between me and the audience. It helped me to find a proper balance between communication and security, between the self and the public. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art is relative to the individual and their culture, circumstance, identity and history. Sometimes it a joyful decoration, a way of leisure. Sometimes it’s witty and playful. Sometimes it is a brave test and interpretation into the most forbidden and disputable matters. It’s material or non-material medium standing between two sides, a carrier shifting between the maker and the audience, the private and the public. It can spread knowledge, and it is the knowledge itself. It joins the West and East, the central and the remote. It communicates the most hidden, forgotten and disputable matters with the audience through the very language and grammar of the artist. For example, John Akomfrah uses three screens in the video installation Ballasts of Memory (2019, Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art, Gateshead) to show the audience the discontinuity of time and 36

Artists filter through the messy layering history, digging out devalued archives and arrange them into new configurations. They keep making art so that our knowledge is renewed, and associated, transforming the old knowledge with our time and contexts, reminding us as beings of the irresistible rush for progress. It is privileged to unveil those pushed to the margin of our society and provide platforms for conversations. Without it, our sensory is not fulfilled, and our culture is only partly seen and sensed. How would you describe the art scene in your area? I came to the UK five years ago to do my PhD in video installation at Newcastle University. Newcastle, along with Gateshead is at the heart of contemporary art in the North East. Newcastle is a great city for contemporary art with its rich Avant-garde practice of Kurt Schwitter, Richard Hamilton and Roy Lichtenstein, along with the wonderful galleries and art communities in various scale and orientations. The diversity and modernity of art may attribute a lot to the many Avant-garde artists who spread their impact across the North East. The art education from 1948 to 1968 of Fine Art at the Art Department of Newcastle University is among the pioneering of art reformation. It was led by Lawrence Gowing, Richard Hamilton, Rita Donagh, etc. greatly challenged and converted the traditional academic art principles to the spirit of experimentation. We can still see the trace of early installation/collage from Kurt Schwitter’s Merz Barn Wall and Roy Lichenstein’s Pop prints in Hatton Gallery. Walking in the city centre we can see Sean Henry’s outdoor sculpture Man with Potential Selves, Geoffrey


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Clarke’s Spiral Nebula and David Hamilton’s Parson’s Polygon. The city’s support of art, along with the university-based art departments make it a place worth staying. Making a choice to see art in Newcastle needs time, as it shows a wide range of arts that broaden my interests and triggers my curiosity. Fine Art Galleries, for example, Laing Gallery provides me with a view of collections of traditional works of Daniel Maclise and Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s paintings alongside contemporary art displaying Claire Morgan’s monumental installation Go with the Wind and Paul Nobel’s wallsize tapestry Villa Joe. The largest art organisation Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art is a Tate Modern like gallery holding exhibitions, artists’ talks and workshops. It is also where I met my husband for the first time and where he proposed to me! What also impresses me is how art organisations re-define the city and its culture. Artists are resident in large art zones that have transformed old industrial buildings, especially around the old biscuit factory, in Ouseburn and along the Quay of the Tyne river. Office buildings in the city centre are a paradise of many small/medium scale galleries and studios. There are always open studio events, regular gallery-based exhibitions and the Great North Exhibition was a wonderful all year-long celebration of creativity. Some heritage sites such as Victoria Tunnel also welcome contemporary artists to make site-specific installations. Another pleasant feature to me is its sensitive awareness of the needs of diversity, the welcoming, open mind to be adventurous and the reaction to globalization. Art organization/groups which aim to enhance the diversity of contemporary art are rising, which is encouraging support for the international artist like me. For example, the Breeze Creatives along with its Abject Gallery where I held my second installation The Reversible Future (2016). It embraces the most talented and adventurous artists nationally and internationally, inviting new blood to share ideas and culture and create a bridge between local artists and the world stage. Another example is the artist-curatorial contemporary art magazine The Lungs which raises awareness of cultural and regional diversity. It is among the pioneers providing a wonderful plat-

form for conversations between cultures, regions, races, genders, art-forms etc. I do feel very fortunate to be part of it, to have exhibitions, be published and interact with such a welcoming and vibrant art scene. It has shaped my practice by showing me various alternative ways of existing as an artist and engaging with the public. And I believe in the future we can have deeper connections and conversations. Name three artists you admire. There are so many artists across mediums who have inspired and affected my works in various senses technically and ideally. For example, the ‘outsider’ artist, Henry Darger, (video) installation artists William Kentridge, Shahzia Sikander, Jim Shaw, and Lubaina Himid, multi-medium artist Song Yongping, Grayson Perry and Kiki Smith, painter Jakub Julian Ziolkowski and Raqib Shaw etc. Song Yongping Song Yongping is a Chinese contemporary artist who deeply inspired and directed my art journey. He is a lighthouse to me, who led me out of the darkest time of my youth. He is a part of the ‘85’ art movement, one of the pioneers of Chinese contemporary art. His paintings, performance and installation works showed me the strong alternative definition of art, for example his painting Human’s Landscape (painting, 1992), Congratulations, Congratulations (1996), Happy Moments (1997) and Money (2007), performance The Crushed Bicycles (1992) and photograph My Father and Mother (2001). These works fell as bombs into the mainstream art scene in late 20th century China, questioning the dominant propaganda influenced art scene. The use of sharp colours, chaotic compositions, distorted faces and the absurd plots harbour infinite energy declaring the individual’s power in the collectivist culture. It is a kind of energy or even violence I needed to carry on understanding and digest the struggling of life, to live through the inescapable conflicting drama happening every day in my country. The bold political metaphors reflecting on the social problems deeply encouraged me to think what an artist does and what my art could be. The heavy, obscure, sharp, spicy and ironic atmosphere called up my emotional resonance, which was hard to be seen anywhere else. 37

Shahzia Sikander Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander is among the few artists who successfully joins two heterogeneous factors: the western and Asian, ancient heritage and contemporary art, static and kinetic, and two-dimensional and spatial. Her roots in the rich heritage of Indo-Persian miniature paintings bear fruits of video installations, which shows me the fascinating transformation between two unique art mediums. For example, in the cinematic video installations, Parallax (2013) and Ecstasy as Sublime, Heart as Vector (2016), she deconstructed her watercolour, abstracted elements and activated them as parts of the new narrative discourse. In the animation, they were layered up, faded in and out, configured with each other to metaphors. I am fascinated with her great abilities to create a united, a vessel in which we are made free to face the hidden, forgotten and conflicting cultural facts associated with who we are and where we originate. It seems extra hard to keep our cultural identities in the western context, and even harder to discuss and analyse it. The balance between literal, surface-touching description using common cultural symbols and elements and the sophisticated implications is not easy to find. One simple visual expression of an exotic culture suitable to the western audiences could be superficial to the eyes of the other side. And many knowledge and discussions lose their values in the translation when they are inevitably simplified to fit the alternative context. A Chinese landscape painting may lead the western viewers to different feelings, which could never be expected by the artist living on the other side of the world. Sikander’s works, especially her animation installations are more than pictures, but real space in which audience from multiple cultural backgrounds could find ways into the narrative from their own needs. The cinematic scale of the projections envelops the audience, making them to make a choice to locate their eyes on the enlarged fragmented cultural paintings. The giant scale enables them to construct their own definitions of the cultural reference they are watching. The ambiguous configurations of the shapes, floating elements and floating layers cancel out


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the sharp conflicts and disagreement and melt them into one aura, a bodily and mental immersion into the shared and transforming. This integrity is powerful and peaceful while sophisticated. Henry Darger American artist Henry Darger is among a few spiritual artists who fuel my practice. His stunning epic illustrated 15,145-page, 30 feet wide watercolour scroll Realms of the Unreal (The Story of the Vivian Girls) and along with his mass production of handwritten novels touched me with the great energy of expression, and the courage to portrait the humanity and humanity from the dark corner. The pictures made across his adulthood are hidden treasures kept to himself in shadows, which were not seen by the public until his death. This made me inquire: why do the artist make works if they are not to be seen by anybody else? What is art if it is made to not be seen by the public? If these watercolours were made for himself alone, are we as an audience the intruders? The collaged and painted ‘Vivan girls’ in the scrolls fight the anti-child slavery wars and expose me to the inescapable

violence. His great imaginations create the odd creatures bringing me to the ambiguity of the intelligible pains and suffers. They trace his conversations with himself through all kinds of miserable challenges in his life: defined as feeble-minded, lived in the orphanage and Asylum, struggled with sexuality, endured isolation in adulthood and faced death alone. All the suffering beyond someone’s choice need a remedy which gives the life a meaning. His art is not a delightful decoration, but salvation which sustains all the burden and duties providing the artist with an alternative reality to survive. I have great empathy with the art, as they show the capability of art as a remedy, a cure and a space in which the artist could re-design the life beyond the reality of powerless. Darger’s works and his intention to make art makes me think if I were the characters living in the war that I created, I can win it and make a better world. Through them, I see how art can connect the two realities, fix up the gap which separates the subject and environment, and re-identify my validity to be there. 38

What are your future plans? Goals always swing as there are rich expressive temptations via the alternative mediums. At present I am enjoying making engraved/painted ceramic pots and sometimes do some printmaking for fun. While my obsession of video installation and drawings is always the fundamental passion to fuel my long-term research and practice. Art always roots me in life and reality in my sense. Over the past five years, I have stuck with the theme of social transformation and observed how Chinese people deal with flux, whilst also expanding my paradigm to peep into those in the western context. Drawing is always the best medium which allows me to capture the immediate, transient and rough response to my reality. My works such as The Parallel Universe: Tale of Genji (2011), Frog (2013-4), Giving Feed the Tiger (2015) are made using an automatic drawing method, which allows me to trace the everyday dynamics and configure the fragments of the chaotic social environment. The pen and pencil moving on the paper help me to think, re-define and shape what I have seen and heard.


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I encounter new forms and compositions which are foundations for any further practice of video installation. I am also revisiting my approach to drawing and scale. My earlier works using pencils and pens were on small-scale paper (normal around A4 to B5), which limited my ability to express my narratives fully. It progressed to a bottleneck a couple of years ago due to the limits of medium and scale, which gives me the goal to involve multiple mediums to fuel my practice in the future. As a beginning of the new journey, my recent works The Shoal (2019), The Conflux (2019) and The Waddle (2019) are much bigger in size, which gives me a chance to explore my motions, the gestures of the hands and the real sense of distance between the pictorial elements. Using soft pencils help to create unexpected ambiguities. Future larger works will also combine collages and invite colours, along with the experiments with alternative drawing surfaces. For example, I began to move my drawings onto ceramic sculptures. The engraved and glazed surface helps me to explore power of transformation of the medium, which opens up possibilities to

renew my passion for the theme. Video installation carries on as my main medium of expression while also using drawings to explore the transformation between ideas and image. Previously works made during my PhD study for example By No Definition (2015), The Reversible Future (2016) and The Outsiders (2017) are limited in size due to the restriction of exhibition space. A standard studio or gallery may compromise the ambition to make monumental large-scale works which could realise my goal to create a ‘full immersion’ of pictures. It is always challenging technically, mentally, and financially to create large-scale drawing-based video installations. I would love to find alternative spaces big enough for future experiments. Making site-specific video installations is always a dream. Finding a suitable venue for the exhibition is the beginning of the new practice. A large old barn or an abandoned industrial site with the trace of life and history is ideal. The uncommon shapes and characteristics of the space also contribute to enriching the contents and capabilities of my future works. 39

My practice always needs a base of research into reality. Over the past 10 years of practice, I have developed a set of archives using sketchbooks, videos and photographs, while it needs to grow and update as many of my sources are from life events, news and reports in China. A lot more interviews and documentary videos will be made, and stories will be collected. Living in the UK is a great change of life, a challenge to keep connected with the previous context, while also a unique chance to give me an international view. The experience of the local history and culture helps me to understand and navigate through the gap between cultures, which will gradually be reflected in my works. It is a nice thing to meet the group of international artists who reside in the North East, as well as local researchers who witnessed the great social change in the 1950s and 1908s in the North East. The communication and bond with them is a new energy to me, which helps to build the conversation between my narrative roots in Chinese society to my western life, find a bond through similar shared experiences and merge our cultural differences to question together the challenges of humanity.


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SANDRA GEA Dijon, France / Athens, Greece


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? My art practice revolves about resilience, memory and identity as themes for exploration and transcendence. I find my materia prima in the emotional and physical experiences of the “here and now� using my body and personal story as a clay that is continuously shaped into a new form. Art and Life are to me intimately connected; the interactions with my immediate environment, the sensory impulses and stimulations whether in harmony or friction with my being are my primary source of influence and inspiration. The experience of the present moment, the field of consciousness within space-time, obliges me to be grounded in my body, aware of my emotions and to move, (re)/(inter)-act and create by instinct. The birth of a piece is sometimes soft and flowing, other times visceral and violent but always through me and out of me in the ongoing rhythm and flow of existence. This organic process continuously challenges me to go within and extract from the layers the substance that will be transmuted onto pictures either on a collage or in a performance. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? The most challenging part is to accept the pauses and silences between projects specially when there has been an intense physical and emotional involvement. During these transitions, I experience a feeling of emptiness and sadness similar to postpartum

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as well as a sense of loss and frustration. Yet, if I allow myself to surrender gently to the process of integrating and embodying the experience soon enough a new ground to create from will emerge. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I believe that the meaning of Art as a reflection of the beauty and tragedies of our humanity, as a language to bridge the invisible and the visible, the conscious and the unconscious remains in essence the same throughout time. Our contemporary culture of the digital and internet provides the artists with more tools to communicate and disseminate their message but also to interact and connect with the public. The artist in the socio-political and environmental context of today’s world is an activist, a humanist, a philosopher, a healer, an educator. Art in contemporary culture occupies the streets, the local communities, it creates a dialogue between the artist and the public by engaging it actively in the creative process.

Name three artists you admire. Frida Kahlo, passionate and fierce, an inspiration of resilience and transcendence of pain through art. I connect with her symbolism and humour. Louise Bourgeois, raw and straightforward, an inspiration of dedication to art until the last breath, a stubborn and whimsical old lady that reminds me of my paternal grandmother and gives me hope for the future! The anonymous sculptors of the Cycladic art, a connection to the past and the mystery, a purity and a modernity in the lines that transcend time, a connection in spirit. What are your future plans? During the month of November, I will be presenting “Hearth_gaia� a performance-workshop at PS.y. Art Therapy Gallery in Athens. I plan to continue collaging and facilitating workshops. Athens inspires me to experiment more with movement, to push the boundaries of my relationship with my body as a tool and container for my art practice. I am longing to grow as an individual and an artist so I will be certainly taking new challenges and exploring new forms of artistic expression. I look forward to collaborating with local artists and communities and see how our worlds converse.

How would you describe the art scene in your area? I have recently moved back to Athens so I am getting my bearings in small steps! The city of Athens is in itself a large canvas with a very active street art scene and obviously a wide range of art events and festivals in all the artistic disciplines. Over the last ten years, Greece has been going through an economic recession yet, simultaneously, new cultural centres and art foundations have seen the day. They offer residency programmes to local and foreign artists and some even free cultural programmes and activities for the public. Independent spaces and platforms run by artists have bloomed in many areas of the city and offer a space of dialogue and interaction between the artists and the local community through the organisation of cultural events and workshops.

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ANGELICA GUERRERO Chihuahua, Mexico / Leeds, UK


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?

made from contemporary artists, such as “everybody is an artist” by Beuys, have increased the ambiguity of what it means to be an artist. This is equivalent to saying that we are all filmmakers or we are all astronauts, nonetheless, as I already said, being an artist is not easy peasy. Under this premise literally everything can be art, for which there is confusion and fear of feeling that if you do not like it, it means you do not understand it. But once again, this same ambiguity leads to the contradiction that everyone is an artist, and yet it is very difficult for some people or “artists” to understand and appreciate art. In my opinion, art should be a reflection of human intelligence, talent, and sensitivity, and not just a product of marketing, at the service of capitalism and the consumerism as a fundamental driver, which in my opinion does not enrich culture.

All the elements, interactions, and dynamics that constantly shape ourselves are also influencing us as artists, playing a major role in our art practice. In this sense, as I am a Mexican artist, my artwork has a great influence on Mexican culture, with all its folklore, colours, naif and magical elements. Also, my career as a graphic designer has been a big influence on my work. This has helped me to improve my approach with colours. Moreover, it has helped me in my artwork design before its materialisation on the canvas, through the use of software such as Photoshop or Illustrator. For example, I have used this software to visualise glazes, for doing sketches or maps of future paintings, as well as planning and scaling some of my geometric compositions.

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

What is the most challenging part of being an artist?

I am from Chihuahua, Mexico, but these last three years I have been living in Leeds, UK. The art scene in these two areas is quite different. In Chihuahua, the art scene has improved in the last few years. Nowadays, there are more art events, such as art trails, workshops, and exhibitions, which is the result of the work of some young artists who have been working on increasing and improving the presence of art in the city. However, I believe there is still a long way to go. We still need more

In many cases, especially in a developing country, art is still thought to be just a hobby; this is a great disincentive to pursue an art career. I grew up in a social structure embedded with this vision, so it has been quite challenging to make my way in the art world. All my childhood and youth I always heard comments like “You can’t make a living of art”, that’s why I decided to study graphic design instead. I thought that while working as a graphic designer I would have the opportunity to also be an artist, nevertheless, this moved me further away from art for many years. Pursuing a career in art requires determination, work, and sacrifice. In this sense, doing an MA on art, have taken several art courses and exhibiting in different places, has allowed me to start profiting from my work and establish my career as an artist. Accordingly, the most challenging part of being an artist was believing that it was possible. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? I believe art is a reflection of culture. My viewpoint of current culture is that there is a great lack of clarity on so many issues. There is fear to deal with sensitivities and to be impolite when it comes to setting limits for achieving the needed objectivity, on which quality can be measured. The same can be said about art. Since the first ready-mades of Duchamp a century ago, art has been experimenting very interesting changes. Nevertheless, I think that some statements

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investment since there are not very good art exhibitions in local museums, which showcase mainly Mexican art. On the other hand, in Leeds, there is access to museums and cultural events that showcase artworks by a wider range of artists and art movements. There are places such as Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is a great source of inspiration to all artists and art lovers. Likewise, London is just two hours away on the train, where you can find some of the best museums and art galleries in the world, a great variety of art events and exhibitions all year round. Yet, I can say that that I found the same challenges in both places for emerging artists, which are trying to develop a successful art career. Name three artists you admire. It is hard for me to mention just three. There are so many artists from very different backgrounds and epochs that I admire. Diego Velรกzquez is one of them because his work made me admire painting since my childhood. His great capacity to create space within a flat surface and his chiaroscuros always had a great impact on me. Remedios Varo is another one. Her paintings are executed with a beautiful technic, full of little details and magical creatures, influenced by Hieronymus Bosch. Thirdly there is Bridget Riley; I admire her paintings full of vibrant patterns, which produces visual experiences that make us aware of the act of observing. What are your future plans? I recently became a mother, so I would like to continue producing as much art as motherhood allows me, as well as keep looking for opportunities to show it. One of my plans is to exhibit in other countries besides Mexico and the United Kingdom, to expand my career as an artist.

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STUART JONES

Hertfordshire, UK


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? The landscape has had a lasting influence on my art practice. It has always been the main influence on my practice and chosen subject matter. It is either where I start in the form of a sketch or an image, or even when I am working in a more abstract manner it is where I end up. The abstract image can become a landscape of sorts or elements of the urban environment are then added to the painting. I spend a lot of time walking, and all that I observe and experience informs my work, both on a conscious and subconscious level. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? Keeping going can be a challenging aspect of being an artist. Even though this is what I have always wanted to do, and will always do, sustaining an art practice definitely requires tenacity and can be hard at times. Obviously elements of this challenge are making a living versus finding space and time to make artwork and dealing with life in general whilst trying to make and show art. You have to consistently ‘show up for the work’ and keep going even when things are not going your way. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art can be escapism, therapy and enjoyable but above all it is a way of questioning things and how we live in order to think differently and question the norm or status quo. Without art or creativity the world would be a greyer, less rich place. We need it in order to be innovative, radical and live better. Especially in the turbulent times we live in now with the political unrest, climate crises and increasing demands on us as human beings through the rapid developments within digital technology. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The art scene in my area is thriving and seems to be getting stronger as people are pushed out of London due to increased housing and studio rent costs. London is only 30 minutes away by train so I can aways get my art fix there in terms of galleries and museums. People will always need some sort of creative outlet even more so now due to the pace at which we live and lack of funding for the arts within education and generally within society. Name three artists you admire. JMW Turner is a constant insipration to me. In terms of artists working now it would have to be Mark Bradford, Anselm Kiefer and Frank Bowling. What are your future plans? I want to continue making paintings and showing my work. I am producing work currently for a solo show I have planned.

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PATRICIA FIGUEIREDO Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil


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What is the most challenging part of being an artist? I could say making a proper living off of it, but the greatest actual challenge is having the courage to truly expose yourself in every sense of the word. Each completed work carries a piece of us. The same freeing act of creating brings along the anguish of limited choices. In my opinion, only by leaving some of yourself behind can one make true art. I understand that as in art, the paths we will take, are taking place during the process of creation. Not in the beginning, not in the end, but during the process. Creation is individual but I also believe that it can be shared and created together. The process of creation is always exhausting and complex. But that leads us to incredible discoveries and challenges never before imagined. It is the confrontation with the new. Undoubtedly the critical eye of the other is necessary for us to grow. Being open to receive it, leads us to a reflection beyond what it is, indicating different perspectives to analyze the same fact. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? I have always been fascinated by the Dadaist movement. The way those artists brought irreverence and total freedom into the spotlight is simply incredible. Although Dada only lasted for a few years its impact was considerable. Duchamp, Max Ernest and Hannah Hoch are some of my favorites. They expanded the boundaries and context of what was considered acceptable as art, which in turn inspired future developments such as Action Painting, Pop Art, Happenings, Installations, Conceptual Art and its various post-modern splinter groups. Max Ernest defines the mechanism of collage poetically by comparing two figures with no identity (umbrella and a typewriter) who find themselves in a common place (the artist’s desk) even coming from completely different realities and contexts, through of the imagination and manipulation of the creative hands of the artist, can be join to create a new reality, a new absolute.

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In his masterwork Being and Time, Heidegger proposes that people cannot be separated from their historical context: The time in which we live makes us who we are. Art is always a portrait of the times. Art has now left museum walls to everywhere else. It becomes wider in its meaning, by being a more active part of our lives. We are living in a world that everybody is connected and it appears in a pronounced tendency that’s art now, is participatory, in which the social interactions prompted by a work become its content. Often called relational art, the work literally engages the public in some way. A tool to spark debates and bring other realities to light. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Brazil is arguably unmatched in its cultural diversity. Our melting pot of influences and lifestyles grants us limitless possibilities when it comes to creation. I live in Rio de Janeiro, where we’re currently facing a political and economic crisis,


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so making art becomes all the more important as a form of resistance and rebellion. We have many artistic movements happening, and several exhibitions of plural themes which are part of the artistic scene of the city. We also have many art schools with different proposals and excellent teachers. All of this makes Rio a special place in Brazilian contemporary art. Name three artists you admire. Currently, the works of Chiharu Shiota, because she is always questioning her limitations and had the courage to start creating into the space. Stepping into one of Shiota’s installations is akin to entering another world, one rife with the haunted beauty of ghostly objects and half-forgotten narratives. Leandro Erlich Jr. because he plays with the reality and makes us to take a fresh look at what is actually happening around us and wonder, “Is there more than one reality?” and finally Weiwei resonated with me because he has the courage to show us, through his strong art, the world inside out. He shows us life behind the scenes. His art negotiates between history and contemporary moment; between traditional Chinese culture and western cultural imperialism.

The word has become an intrinsic element of my work. Phrases are a collage made of words. Words that can often be interpreted as a collage made of feelings. Through reading we appropriate the sentences, ideas contained in what was read and that somehow become part of us. By absorbing words and narratives, we are able to create feelings that never existed because they are often unrealistic. Imaginary situations come true at a time on a single page. By reading a book for a while and manipulating its pages, we also create a physical and organic connection to the paper. By removing pages from books and connecting them through a thread, I create life and movement. When framing pages, only the page numbers are visible, and this brings a greater poetic to the work. A personal interpretation that seemingly blank pages make it possible to write a new story. The intention is to instigate the reading of the books used in the work, because the written pages are not exposed. For the future I want to make sure that my commitment to inner trust becomes stronger with every job I complete.

What are your future plans? Although I continue to devote myself to analogical collage (I am developing a project of making a collage every day for a year, where each collage is connected to another collage of the previous day by some common figure. This work reflects our experience. Each day that we live, bring something from yesterday.), I have currently allowed myself to experiment with other formats and dimensions. For example, “Transbordar” is a self-biographical work. By creating bonds that turn into a chain, I recreated and reflected my own identity, and the visceral appearance intends to expose my deep self. The chain is made of papier-mache, covered with dictionary sheets and the size of each chain is based on my height, 1.62 cm. The links that form the chains are randomly connected together to recreate a succession of moments. In total they overflow (“transbordar”); the mobility created by connecting different chains allows various ways to shape and expose the infinite forms that we need to exist and expose ourselves. The next job in progress is called “secret words”

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MARK LLOYD Bath, UK


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? Many artists over the years have been an influence on my work. When I was a teenager I was excited by graffiti art and the emerging New York scene, artist such as Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat in particular left a lasting impact on my own practice. Over the years artist who have influenced me include; Manet, Piero della Francesca, Goya, Turner, Gericault, William Blake, Rembrandt, Carracci painters, to Pollock, Rothko, Kline, Joan Mitchell, Freud, Bacon, Saville, Chris Ofili, Peter Doig, and many many others. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? Time is the biggest challenge of being an artist to me. Finding time, painting is a slow process, and perhaps does not suit the modern pace of life in the technological age. I am always trying to find ways of making time to work and be in the studio. I do not fully financially support myself entirely through painting and artworks, therefore I support my practice through lecturing and teaching. It is a difficult balance to find a median between the two professions.

In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art means everything in contemporary culture. The colossal difference today is the machines in which we create and consume our art, the tools are different. I believe the effect of digital technology on not just art but on the human experience as a whole has been all encompassing. Of note I have noticed two very differing pathways of art production perhaps over the last 20 years this divergence has increased, and that is the two polar pathways of a pure academic art, which we see in universities and academic institutions and art that we see in art fairs and privately run galleries. This seems to be the zeitgeist not only in art but also in politics and culture, and I find it sad and insular. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The art scene in my area is good and bad. The bad being that there are very few exhibition spaces, artist’s studios and public funding into the arts locally. The good being that due to the arts university and Bournemouth university in Bournemouth many very good and successful artists have settled in the area and set up their own practices. This is a real asset as there is positive dialogue and discourse and creative solutions to show and exhibit work. Name three artists you admire. The artists who I admire changes as to the work that I am creating or the series that I am working on. Currently I admire Harland Miller, Luca Del Baldo, Gordon Cheung, Rembrandt and strangely scientific diagrams and formulas are interesting and fascinating to me. What are your future plans? My Plans for the near future include finishing off managing my current solo show at the Official Shelley Theatre, post and pack two large paintings that need to be sent to an art collector, and I have a magazine interview to write before the Christmas period. Early next year my goal is to find ways to spend more time in the studio making new work, and long term goals is to one day become fully self-supporting from my art practice. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work and practice, I am very grateful to you.

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CARMEL

LOUISE

Melbourne, Australia

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Carmel Louise is a photographic and mixed media artist who completed her BA in Fine Art Photography with Distinction at RMIT in 2010. Louise’s photographic practice includes abstraction with hand cutting techniques, fine art printing and teaching photography and Photoshop. Typically, her photographic artworks are not concerned with notions of traditional or documentary photography, as her main practice centres on a conceptual experimental method, that creates undetermined imagery: what she terms DeConstructed Photography. With an inquisitive mind, she has explored this technique and applied it to different subject matter that has ranged from portraits, floral themes to construction sites. The resulting images are a means to engage and ignite the imagination, as they act as “doors of perception” challenging the viewer and drawing them in. Her future aim is to continue exploring the possibilities of the experimental process and breakdown the boundaries of both the visual and physical properties of the photographic print.

Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? I strongly believe that your life experiences build and influence not only your personal character but also shape your current and future choices in life and art. My previous occupations in science have had an ongoing effect on my arts practice. My formal training which was based on critical thinking involving how to observe, research and collate information has played an integral part in the development of my own practice of DeConstructed Photography. This is an experimental technique that explores 21st Century digital photography and my artistic relationship with it. The process involves one photo, a set of rules, and post processing techniques in Photoshop, and personal aesthetics or intuition. The end result is an undetermined image based entirely on the file information within the original photo and its own reconstructed data. The experimental nature of my practice means that I am able to apply new techniques and methods to explore new ideas for my works. This is exciting for me, as it allows me to grow as an artist, as well as inspiring me to create new works.


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What is the most challenging part of being an artist? Theobviousanswerto themost challenging aspect ofbeing an artist would be finances,but Ithink originality in art, in this digitally connected world is a hard one to find. The world has become a type of blended hive mind permanently connected to the incoming stream of data in all its forms, stimulating the collective conscious. There were times in the past that I thought I was being “original”, only to find out that my artwork resembled someone else’s, which was always disconcerting. As children we are exposed to shapes, colours, patterns, animations and stories from TV, and books. Now its information delivered via computers, tablets and mobile phones which we absorb unconsciously. Our unquestioning assimilation of technology and the way in which it delivers information in the 21st century has heightened rates of exchange never seen in previous human history. Throughout life, the integration of knowledge, ideas or concepts goes on continually as we learn, age and evolve as individuals. So, I believe it’s important to be aware of history, current affairs and the variable influencing factors that may create future opportunities as we filter the constant data stream in our lives. Personally, my experimental practice evolved because I believed that photography can be

so much more than what traditional conceptual photography offered. I believe it is those artists who want to see outside the box, behind the curtain, or have a habit of pushing those safe, acceptable boundaries in either technique or subject matter, are the artists who are innovative. Of course, creatives must also be careful as history teaches us that to be on the edge (or over it) of acceptable standards can cause derision and condemnation. Political, cultural and religious censorship all take their toll on art and freedom of expression. So, I believe the most challenging part of being an artist is originality. This comes from an awareness of historical context and an individual’s own ability to make informed choice and the courage to follow through with fearless innovation. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art in contemporary culture is vitally important in addressing and challenging the status quo, while acting as a mirror. My personal art practice is a manifestation of how I think and what I believe. I try to produce artwork that reflects what is occurring not only in my immediate environment but to also comment on current socio-political themes that are chronic systemic failures by current governmental bodies, locally and internationally. At this present time in history there are so many topics for artists to address, while raising awareness in the wider community, illuminating issues from fundamental human rights abuses to environmental injustice. Art is a form of communication that allows people from diverse cultures to communicate together through images, sounds and stories and it can give voice to the politically or so-

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cially disenfranchised, inspiring them to rally for change. And most important of all, art in contemporary culture preserves what fact-based historical records cannot: how it feels to exist in a particular time and place. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The art scene in my local suburb of Brunswick and the greater city of Melbourne is vibrant and alive! Melbourne is the epicentre of art and culture in Australia, and the arts community reflects Australia’s diverse, multi-layered culture and society. This diversity of influences creates an environment that is dynamic, energised, innovative and outward looking. Music, live performances, visual art, great food and festivals are a constant stream of enriching experiences to be found throughout Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs. Also, I would be remiss in not mentioning our remarkable first peoples, indigenous art and culture. Some excellent contemporary

examples of indigenous art can be found at a local gallery in Brunswick, called Blak Dot, a must see if you are in the area! No matter what your interests are, there will be something for you to see, listen to and experience, both locally in Brunswick and in the greater area of Melbourne. Name three artists you admire. I not only admire these three Australian artists but they are also an inspiration for their innovation and research based practices. Patricia Piccinini is an acclaimed Australian artist whose work investigates the ethics and futuristic potential of biotechnology and gene manipulation. Using silicone, fibreglass and hair, she creates hybrid creatures that are disturbing, yet hyperrealistic. Her search for future possibilities creates these seemly “dark creatures”, but they also embody the ability to love in ways that transcend the physical body. Her bizarre creations remind us of what it means to be human and our place in

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the world we live in. Pat Brassington is one of Australia’s most significant and influential artists working in photo-media. Brassington is well known for her insightful ability to infuse the familiar with the fantastic, creating an uncanny visual experience. Her practice is informed by an interest in surrealism, feminism and psychoanalysis. Her photos are seemingly innocent, but they open up a deep-seated psychological response with endless possibilities of our complex inner states of being, built around narratives of sex, memory and identity. Justine Khamara’s art disrupts a photograph’s smooth, two-dimensional surface by building sculptures and collages. Typically, a portrait photo is transformed either by hand cutting and pulling features into three-dimensional form, or by taking multiple shots of a single subject which are then collaged. Her methods evoke biological processes of replication while also engaging with notions of self-representation in an era capable of endless, instant selfies and reproductive technologies. Her work is best understood as a deeply psychological response to contemporary notions of being (in the existentialist sense).   What are your future plans? My future plans involve more research and development with my own technique, DeConstructed Photography. The techniques tend to evolve along with the subject matter at the time, but the basic premise will always remain the same with the initial rules of application in the digital realm. Creating three-dimensional artwork by hand cutting my prints, will evolve more readily and I find this the most exciting aspect of all. I have always loved pop-up books and puzzles and I anticipate this is where I will be heading in the near future. Conceptually, my artwork is currently developing a feminist flavour as a reaction to the ongoing gender-based violence experienced by one in three women, not only in Australia but around the world. Because of this, I feel like I am about to fall down the rabbit hole in search of answers but foresee finding only more questions.


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THOMAS PETTIS Southampton, UK More than ever, I feel that art is continuously being used to comment on, argue with, or warn against an element of the present world, whether it be political, environmental or personal. Nearly everything that is made seems to comment, either subtly or directly, on the world we inhabit, drawing attention to our collective failures. Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? I think as an artist, everything in life has the potential to impact you and your work; I could sit here for quite some time listing off each of my friends, family and experiences and exactly how they have influenced my journey. To save your sanity, I’ll keep it short and narrow it down. Someone I always think back to is the German artist Anselm Kiefer, whom I discovered in about 2015 while I was undertaking my Foundation year. Since discovering him I have been privileged enough to see his work exhibited on three separate occasions and it has blown my mind each time. The sheer scale of the work, mixed with the genius of the underlying conceptual thinking really showed me just how ambitious and flexible art can be, and that if it’s something you want to make, you should. I also want to give a quick shoutout to Robin Lee Hall, who taught me all about Egg Tempera at the Royal Academy. This has become one of my go-to mediums, so I owe her a lot for teaching me so much in such a short time. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? It’s funny that when you sit down and think about this properly, there are so many strenuous challenges that you have to fight through as an artist


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each day, but you also wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Juggling all aspects of your life to make sure you dedicate the right amount of time and effort to your practice is a big one, especially when you have the organisational hand-eye coordination I do. But the big one for me, is trying to get noticed, in the right way. When it comes to open calls and applications, there seems to be so many artists going for the same thing that it feels impossible at times to make your work shine above the rest. Quite often, you feel that the work you have put your heart and soul into simply gets lost in the crowd. Even when sharing your work to a large audience on platforms such as Instagram, if the response is lacklustre or you don’t get many ‘likes’, it sometimes makes you wonder if your work is any good, or if it will ever reach the point of gaining any recognition. It may be hard, but it is important to stay optimistic, focus on the enjoyment of making, and remember that by taking each opportunity as it presents itself, things will eventually start to happen. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? The meaning of art in the contemporary seems to be a very different one to that of art in the past. More than ever, I feel that art is continuously being used to comment on, argue with, or warn against an element of the present world, whether it be political, environmental or personal. Nearly everything that is made seems to comment, either subtly or directly, on the world we inhabit, drawing attention to our collective failures. As artists, I feel it is our responsibility to do so, and nearly all of the work I produce myself would fit into this in some form, but at the same time, the hopeless-romantic in me is sometimes overwhelmed by the constant doom and gloom. Though it still holds elements of pure beauty and emotion, that is often not the reason for arts creation nowadays, for it has a more pressing matter to push. In short, art for the sake of art is something that feels as if it’s disappearing. I have mixed feelings on this subject, but deep down I feel that it is an incredibly important

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attribute for contemporary art to be able to comment on and challenge the ways of the world, in hope of people beginning to think differently, or even just for themselves. How would you describe the art scene in your area? It’s a really exciting time to be involved in the art scene in Southampton, as it feels like it is growing on a daily basis. For many years the main port of call in the city was the Southampton City Art Gallery, housing a decent size collection of artwork ranging from Renaissance to Contemporary. Though there were a few other smaller institutions spread across Southampton, the city itself often felt quite sparse in the sense of art. Yet in the last few years, Southampton really has had a renaissance of its own. At the forefront of this expansion is the Arts Council-backed organisation ‘A Space’, whose objective is to provide footing for local emerging artists as well as to engage the audience in fun and educational ways. Recently, A Space has played a pivotal role in the opening of new galleries and studio spaces, as well as pushing for a continuous list of upcoming exhibitions and events, including many at their new flagship gallery, Gods House Tower. Alongside these new establishments, Southampton Solent University continues to push and promote their recent graduates more and more, providing them with the support needed to establish themselves quickly after graduation. Exhibitions consisting of fresh graduates have become a big part of the Southampton art scene, so there’s always something new to see.


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Name three Artists you admire. Jake Wood-Evans - A contemporary master in my opinion. For quite some time I was fascinated by the ideas of deconstruction in painting, and while looking into this idea I stumbled across his work. The ethereal brushstrokes of Wood-Evans work is truly haunting and on many occasions he has inspired me to keep working on my practice. Antony Williams - A fellow Egg Tempera painter, Williams manages to stitch the intricate little details together to bring about an incredible amount of emotion from each painting. I strive to be able to accomplish such a feat within my own work. Nicola Samori - An Italian painter and sculptor who looks to the past for his inspiration, before skilfully manipulating and scarring the materials to transform the work into completely unique renditions of the Baroque. What are your future plans? At this moment, my only concrete plan for the future is the continuation of my current project. Presently, I am the Artist in Residence at Beaulieu’s Palace House in the New Forest, so for the foreseeable future, I’ll be continuing my work there. My main focus in this residency is to produce a series of portraiture, depicting members of staff in their Victorian dress, which will then be exhibited within Palace House. For these portraits, I have been working exclusively with egg tempera, which famously takes a lot of time and patience to build up. Due to this,

I think I’ll be focusing on this project heavily for another month or two. If all goes to plan, the series of work will be complete and up for exhibition in the early months of 2020. Once this work is up on display, I would like to use the remainder of my time at Beaulieu to explore the environment and atmosphere of the place. The passing of time and the memory of history has always been a crucial part of the conceptual side of my work, and with Beaulieu being a strange amalgamation of various different parts of history, including a lot of influence from the contemporary world, I would very much like to capture this in painted form. Beyond the residency, I have vague plans to open my first Solo exhibition since graduating, though I feel this will be such a large focus, that I will need to wait until I know I have the time and resources I need to do it justice.

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Br an d on Saunders a.k.a.

GAUSPEL Newcastle, UK


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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? I would say music has the most influence on my artwork. I believe Album covers are one of the few formats that allow for experimental art to reach a wide commercial audience. My music library will always be my favorite art gallery. It’s one of the few places I see classical art right next to analog glitching and candid photography. The way I grew up influenced my work a lot too, I think. There was nothing to do in Cayman and Jamaica so I spent half of my time exploring natural flora and the other half on the internet. I guess my work is a weird combination of those two worlds. You can see this a lot more in my glitchy pieces of art. I don’t hold anything sacred I think great art is made when the natural and digital co-exists in harmony and used effectively.

What is the most challenging part of being an artist? I would say the most difficult part about being an artist are the commissions. It’s sometimes hard to find them for one. I get most of them from musicians which I really enjoy so it’s not that bad. Depending on the project they can be time eaters though. I used to practice drawing for 5 hours a day for six months but it got halted after several jobs. Sometimes I fix that problem by stepping out of my comfort zone and applying what I’ve learned to the commission. There is also that odd client who’s very slow to pay or that client who’s a perfectionist. You get used to it but they can be extremely annoying. Besides that, it’s pretty fun. More often than not people are really happy with the results and I like that they are. In your opinion, what does art mean in contemporary culture? I think it’s about finding a craft and then an audience to be honest. It’s all about making what you want and showing it to the right people. Beforehand it felt like there was a middleman between you and the people you want to make art for. Like if you’re making music you needed a label or if you wanted to get into a gallery you needed art school. Knowledge today is a lot more accessible than it’s ever been. By using the internet alone, you can teach yourself a craft and develop an audience with enough time and dedication. In other words, there’s no restrictions. Art in the contemporary setting simply means anyone passionate enough to be an artist (with or without education) can with enough time. I truly believe that everyone has audience out there. How would you describe the art scene in your area? The art scene in Newcastle is very open and free. It doesn’t try to be commercial and a lot of galleries commission very avant-garde art practices. Sometimes the overly competitive nature of a city like London fills you with doubts and regrets turning off the general public from pursuing art. I think Newcastle is quite the opposite. I think Newcastle encourages anyone to pick up a tool

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and start making. It’s nice to go to a life drawing class and see people of all ages and skill sets in harmony. No one is judging each other; they’re just having fun making art. Name three artists you admire. I really admire George Bridgeman. When it comes to art I try to study from the masters and I love George Bridgeman’s take on anatomy a lot. He breaks the human body down to pure forms while simplifying their mechanical processes to a tee. I don’t know if it’s true but legend has it that Frank Frazetta read his book and is a key reason to why he draws so good. After hearing that I bought George Bridgeman’s book and studied it religiously ever since. I also really love Ash Thorp, he’s a digital artist that works in the realm of feature films. His philosophy of practicing something every day (Even if it’s a little bit) translates so well into his film work. It’s so inspiring watching him create gorgeous short features using very little money, patience and the skills he’s garnered over his life time. The last choice may be common but I like Warhol. I think as artist we sometimes live in our own bubbles and tend to look down on popular culture because it doesn’t seem “fine art” enough. Warhol was quite the opposite. I like to see fine artists work with celebrities because they tend to produce some of the aesthetically best work I’ve seen to date. What are your future plans? I’m looking into fashion at the moment. I want to see how well my skills translate into that world without having to learn how to sew (or any other skills linked to fashion).

So far, It’s been a lot of trial and error but extremely eye opening at the same time. I’m making dresses digitally and creating masks out of Ice. I think it’s a good balance of learning something new and developing the skills I already have. Besides that, I don’t have a big goal in mind. I just work on commissions and projects simultaneously then hope for something good to happen. Sometimes if I have any free time I use it to practice a skill, whether it be drawing, sculpting or 3d. Realistically I think the projects I have right now are reflective of my current skill set. If I ever plan to get better commissions I need to practice.

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BEN SNOWDEN

Bradford, UK


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What is the most challenging part of being an artist ?

I’m very lucky to have a supportive family. My passion for painting and trying to create something different is a constant influence with how I work, always experimenting with different materials, never knowing what I’m doing or how a painting is going to turn out, I’ve always loved the intrigue and mystery in art. The unknown opens your mind, body and soul to everything that’s possible in life.

I think the most challenging part of being an artist is to never feel comfortable, always confront yourself and your work, and always strive to do something different that is personal to you as an individual. If people are interested in what you do that’s brilliant, but focusing on what you want to do is the most important part of being an artist. Always stay strong to yourself and you can never fail. There’s so many opportunities out there for artists, try anything and everything to get your work out there, self belief and discipline is the key. You’ve also got to understand that sometimes you will have interest in your work from galleries and then sometimes things may go quiet for awhile, but there’s always something good round the corner, keep your ear to the ground and you will find the right opportunities to get your work out there!

Someone who has had a lasting influence on my life would be an artist called Graeme Wilson, who sadly died last October (2018). He was my Fine Art Tutor back in 2005 on my Foundation Art & Design Course. I hadn’t seen the man for over ten years, but I always remember he was a lovely man and a great teacher, he used to give me great words of encouragement and just left me to my own devices to paint. He was a fantastic painter, his work was a combination of photo realism, portraiture and abstraction. He had strong conviction and an effortless talent for painting! One of his seminal works for me personally, is the large mural painting by the corn exchange in Leeds, West Yorkshire, you can’t miss it. Every time I see that piece, I remember all the wonderful things about Graeme,

Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice ? My family is the best influence in my life they show you love and support for what you want to do in life, that’s very important,

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Name three artists you admire ?

it makes you think when you create something lasting you never really die, the paintings celebrate the man’s life and vision, the artist lives forever!

Art has and always will be a vital part of culture, its entwined in society, community and the world. Art is a voice to communicate your thoughts and feelings, to embrace what’s good and to confront what’s bad in life. Art is compulsion, creation and exploration – the journey never ends!

My influences haven’t changed, I’m still in love with all the great artists I first discovered. The three artists that I admire strongly are David Bomberg, Jackson Pollock and Peter Lanyon. These artists mean so much to me, they represent a distinct singular vision, fed by determination, love, pain, and a great passion for painting! There work has opened so many doors for me, it made me feel that you can do anything and everything with painting, the possibilities are endless. The journey is equally creative and destructive. These key components have fuelled my work for years and always will be a lasting influence!

How would you describe the art scene in your area ?

What are your future plans ?

The art scene in the Leeds and Bradford area is thriving, there’s lots of opportunities to get involved in, be it art, music, fashion, you name it. There’s organisations such as Keighley Creative Art Space, East Street Arts, Cecile Green Arts, Keighley Arts and Film Festival, Saltaire Arts Trail etc., that all do amazing work to promote artists and anything creative!

The only plan I have for the future, is to keep painting and getting my work out there. An artists life is peeks and troughs, there’s always something good round the corner. Keep working hard and always believe in yourself! Opportunities will come and go, stay strong to your convictions and find the right galleries and people to work with.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture ?

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TANSY TESTER

Bristol, UK


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However this can be challenging when the society we live in is not necessarily built for this lifestyle, earning a living and life responsibilities can get in the way. There is also the practical pressure of finding jobs that fit around art, as well as the emotional pressure of having to justify why I have decided to commit to this as a career. Despite this, I do not have the choice to abandon art (and would never want to) as for me it will always be a priority. I always have a longing to spend more time making it, and a guilt attached when I’m not able to do so. I feel this is a struggle which most artists have to come to terms with and accept there will be times when you cannot always make art but you will return to it. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice ? My work has always been very much influenced by objects and materials that I encounter everyday, in particular objects from the industrial world. My work is usually inspired by the intimacy of the relationships that we have with these materials, a closeness which often goes unnoticed. I enjoy playing with objects to form new narratives between them and us; using colour, tactile materials and smells to manipulate them, in order to work out the world around me. My ideas are usually triggered by reacting to hard and soft materials and

exploring the physical presence of an object when stripped from its purpose. For me processes are something that inspires the beginnings of works, this often includes methods such as casting and construction. What is the most challenging part of being an artist ? The times when I am happiest is when I am obsessively making things in the studio and experimenting everyday with materials and processes. For me being an artist comes from the constant urge to make things; and the desire to have complete autonomy with that curiosity.

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For me I feel that art has different levels of meaning within contemporary culture for different groups of people. Within well-established galleries and institutions, contemporary art is presented as accessible to everyone. Galleries appear to welcome and encourage everyone to feel they are allowed to form an understanding and appreciation of the work. However, within these spaces it is hard to see work of artists that are not already established and well-known. This can make it hard for people to form an opinion of contemporary art in other contexts as we are presented with a limited view of what art is today. It is hard to become established as an artist without an institution or money supporting you. All of this contributes to our perception of art’s worth in society and our understanding of its place in contemporary culture. For me, if art is not for everyone, then I can’t see a point to it. I feel that it is important to make art today that people can get something from, even if they do not necessarily like it or understand it from the artist’s perspective.


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How would you describe the art scene in your area? Since graduating from Goldsmiths and having spent 3 years living in London, it has been hard to stay settled in one area and find a place that makes being an artist seem feasible. London was a great place to be for opportunities and exhibitions, however it was financially impossible for me to stay there after graduating. I spent some time between Falmouth and my home town Maidstone. In Falmouth I felt that the art scene was a bubble; there was a certain type of practice and what felt like a very specific perspective of art. In Maidstone it seemed like the art scene was pretty much none existent. This was isolating, and I had trouble finding anywhere to exhibit my work. However, I have recently moved to Bristol which has been an exciting and refreshing change for me. Bristol is full of people who are creatives and art is recognised as important to a lot of the people who live here. This has meant that I feel able to focus on the work rather than having to justify why i’m doing it in the first place. Name three artists that you admire. Phyllida Barlow has been one of the most inspirational artists to me from a very young age. I have always felt a very strong physical connection to her pieces and when I see her work it reminds me of why I love art: collecting stuff combined with paint and materials to create new narratives. I love her grand scale and messyness, combined with the way she places things in a playfully instinctual manner. Mika Rottenberg’s visual and performance work is curious and exciting, she explores things in a very different way to Barlow. She focuses on the material world, production and the extremes of the human body. Lastly Pipilotti Rist; her work comments on sexuality, nature and intimacy which she approaches through her use of colour. She balances an uncomfortableness with positivity and humour. What are your future plans? I am planning for some group shows in the new year as well as having a solo show at Nucleus Arts Gallery in Chatham in spring next year.

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FRANCES WILLOUGHBY

Bristol, UK

Frances Willoughby is a British artist based in Bristol. Willoughby draws on themes such as the uncanny, the body and the home. Using a psychoanalytic framework Willoughby uses fears and desires to create installations, sculptures and collages using a mixture of textiles, found objects and images. She is interested in work that subverts the traditional and manipulates reality. Displacing the familiar she offers up a new context for the viewer to interpret and decipher. Willoughby ties these pieces together creating a new narrative, introducing contrasting materials to create a series of playful outcomes. In her most recent series of work, she has created life-sized textile sculptures which explore the fragmented body. These enlarged, distorted dolls represent her struggle with anxiety, conflict and turmoil.

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Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? My family have been the biggest influence on my art practice. Our home was full of collections of objects. Every surface was packed with things; taxidermy, books, tin toys, plants. This sparked my curiosity in experimenting with found objects in my practice. I was also exposed to a plethora of films which have stuck with me from David Lynch’s ‘Eraserhead’ to Don Siegel’s ‘Invasion of the Bodysnatchers’. These films established my interest in the uncanny and our fear of the other.

At home there were always projects on the go. My mother spent several years crafting ceramic eggs containing intricate fanciful scenes. I have also been witness to numerous DIY projects which has given me the belief that almost anything is possible with careful problem-solving. Growing up surrounded by such a variety of projects on the go has helped me to develop an awareness of materials. A variety of artwork by the different family member lined the walls and shelves, from paintings to embroidery and ceramics. I was always encouraged to make things, to be creative, to ask questions. From a young age, I have approached my practice in a serious, professional way, which was due largely to my Mother’s support and attitude to the arts. Textiles and doll making has always been something I have spent time on. I would spend hours embroidering faces and sewing tiny doll dresses. Over the years I have found that the dolls have grown larger and more surreal. Body parts missing or duplicated several times they now occupy a strange space between my reality and dreams. What is the most challenging part of being an artist? The most challenging part of being an artist was leaving university and realising that I couldn’t spend all the time I would like to on projects and making new work. Like most artists I have to have a job in order to make ends meet. As an artist I have had to master the balancing act of allowing myself time to be creative, holding down a job and managing my relationships with friends and family. I find the financial barrier of being an artist very stressful. Often the best opportunities come with large submission fees which you have to pay upfront. To me, this feels an awful lot like gambling. Financial restraints can affect everything from the materials I purchase to the scale of a finished project. There have been times where financial restraints have offered interesting challenges. I did a residency earlier this year at the Helmut gallery in Leipzig. I designed a whole exhibition that would

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fit into two suitcases so as to avoid large transportation fees. This turned out to be incredibly useful and enabled me to transport pieces from this project on to other exhibitions around the UK. In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? Art can offer perspective; art often acts as a mirror reflecting current events and emotions. We are in incredibly uncertain times which has led to a mass feeling of unease. I recently visited Maurizio Cattelan’s exhibition titled ‘Victory is Not an Option’ at Blenheim Palace, I felt the exhibition was an interesting portrayal of where the world is now. It reflected on the importance of looking back at history to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated. I felt that Cattelan’s approach was playful, challenging and perfectly placed. How would you describe the art scene in your area? There is a huge and varied art scene in Bristol. There are several large free art galleries such as Spike Island and the Arnolfini as well as a number of smaller independent venues. As an emerging artist, I have found opportunities to be limited. Although I have participated in a couple of opportunities in Bristol this year. Over the summer I also took part in ‘The Contraband Collection’ (TCC) which was hosted at The Latch studios in Bristol.

TCC is an art collection and network which aims to create a tran-national artist network. At the centre of TTC, there is a growing collection of artworks printed on silks featuring the work of the artists who have participated in TTC’s projects. The silks are transported and displayed in various locations around the world. I have also had my work selected for the Royal West of England Acadamy’s 167th Annual Open Exhibition, which is open until the start of December. Name three artists you admire. Tony Oursler, Louise Bourgeois and Rona Pondick. What are your future plans? I have a piece entitled ‘Bad Breast’ on display at Les Fêtes Galantes in London Fields until January. Beyond this, I would like to work towards a future where I can spend more time being creative and working on projects. I plan to work towards gaining gallery representation which I hope would develop my career in terms of networking and selling my work. I also plan to take part in more residencies as they can offer unexpected projects and the opportunity to take risks. I enjoy the way residencies can offer up a new context and act as a springboard for a new idea or project.

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O. YEMI TUBI

Nigeria / UK

In my opinion art in this contemporary culture means “anything goes.” Anybody can just call himself or herself an artist without any discipline or talent. It’s seems there is a conspiracy to destroy arts; not all arts, just visual arts. Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice? Most of my recent paintings were influenced by political and social upheaval of our world today and the works of the Renaissance artists. My enchantment with the works of the Renaissance art old masters made me embarked on doing a series of paintings in the style of these old masters. I chose the portrait painting of the Queen of France, Elizabeth of Austria painted in 1571 by the French Renaissance artist – Clouet Francois as a reference for my painting, the “Lady Merete of Norway” I love Leonardo DaVinci’s works, I love Michelangelo, and Raphael. The works of host of renaissance artists greatly influenced me. Their works are so realistic, inspirational and informative. The renaissance artists were the camera of their time; documenting the life, culture and religion of their time. The Holy Bible were not readily available to Christians of the time of Michelangelo, so the Pope commissioned Michelangelo to illustrate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with the stories in the Holy Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The political statements of the works of French Revolution’s painting by Eugène Delacroix – 1830 – “Liberty Leading the People” influenced my work “Arab Revolution” in 2012, which was done in the awake of Arab Spring. My painting “The Eagle has Landed” was influenced by “The Second of May 1808” by Spanish Artist Francisco Goya. I am fascinated by the works of surrealistic artistic like the Spanish artist Salvador Dali’s “Butterfly Windmills”. The works of Italian artist, Guiseppe Arcimboldo’s “The Librarian” influenced some of my portrait paintings like “The Portrait of an Artist” – the portrait of one of my art teachers; “SOYINKA: African Literary Icon” - The portrait of Professor Wole Soyinka, the first African to win


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a Nobel Prize in Literature and “The Violinist”- a portrait of the young lady violinist in my church worship choir. When I work on portrait paintings, I don’t just copy nature; I desire my portrait paintings to be uniquely creative. I often use the paintings to tell stories about my subjects. I often use my subjects’ professions to create their portraits. I used artist materials to create my painting “PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST”, I used books and flowing letters to create the portrait of Professor Wole Soyinka, in painting “SOYINKA: A LITERARY ICON” and image of violin for the portrait of “THE VIOLINIST” What is the most challenging part of being an artist? The most challenging part of being an artist is finance. Art is a very expensive venture and without sponsors, financial challenge will be great for self-funded artist. I had two solo exhibitions recently. One in my local library and the other through the Open call competition that I won because funding a solo exhibition is very expensive. Galleries often charge wall space

per square yard. I had my solo exhibition – “The Facts of Life” at Pineapple Black Gallery, Stockton-on-Tees, UK, June 2019 and if I must do it as self-funded exhibition; it would have cost me a lot of money. Art Fairs in big cities like London, UK often cost between £500.00 - £1,500.00 to take part in 3 days art fair. Art materials and transportations of my works locally and internationally often cost me lots of money. I take parts in many group exhibitions; some I often pay to take part and some I won art competitions to gain opportunities to exhibit my works for free. I still must keep on exhibiting my works with hope and prayers to get a gallery representation and art collectors that will be buying my works. My hope and aspiration to get connected to rich art matrons and patrons that will commission me on regular basis like the time of renaissance artists. Just patrons such as the Medici, the Sforza, and many popes financed and sponsored the works of Michelangelo and other renaissance artists. I hope my interview with ART REVEAL MAGAZINE will REAVEL MY ARTS to some arts Matrons and Patrons.

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In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture? In my opinion art in this contemporary culture means “anything goes.” Anybody can just call himself or herself an artist without any discipline or talent. It’s seems there is a conspiracy to destroy arts; not all arts, just visual arts. Other arts like music, and theatre arts are okay; undisciplined and talentless person cannot make it in theatre and movies industry. Somebody with terrible voice singing off-key cannot be awarded large sum of money and a record deal on “British Got Talent”. It is people with raw talent like Susan Boyle got fame and fortune overnight from “British Got Talent.” Contemporary art culture often promotes what I consider as bad arts. Aesthetic art start to disintegrate from the time of impressionist artists in my own view. They deviated from realistic arts to only colours and brush strokes. From aesthetic realistic portrait of Mona Lisa of Leonardo Da Vinci to grotesque looking “The Weeping Woman” by Pablo Picasso. It is the impressionist artists that influenced lazy artists that just deep their hands and brushes into the paints and smeared on canvases. The contemporary art critiques often make up fancy stories about these kindergarten’s art and galleries put ridiculous high prices on them. Turner Prize is notorious for awarding great prize to some bizarre works which common people cannot consider to be arts. The work of Tracey Emin – “My Bed 1999” is one of those works. I cannot see an unkept bed as a piece of art. How would you describe the art scene in your area? Art scene in my area is heavily saturated with more young artists graduating every year from Royal College of Arts and other arts colleges and universities across United Kingdom. Many artists competing for same arts jobs and opportunities. This makes me go across the world hunting for opportunities to expose my works to a larger market. Name three artists you admire. There are many artists that I admire their works. As I mentioned earlier, I admire realistic works of the renaissance artists and the works of surrealistic artists. The three artists that I admire are Salvador Dali, Erik Armusik, and Kehinde Wiley. What are your future plans? I have three group exhibitions next month and one of which I am flying to Riga, Latvia for the private viewing by the end of this month. I am currently working on two paintings both of which I hope to finish by the end of the year. I have many projects that I planned to start working on in future one of which is “The Glamour and Sexual Abuse in Bollywood.” This is one of the series of paintings I am using to advocate against the abuse of women around the world.

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Profile for Art Reveal Magazine

Art Reveal Magazine no. 50  

Jasmine Collings (UK), Liam Collins (UK), Audrey Kay Dowling (USA), Martha Ellis (UK), Qi Fang (UK/China), Sandra Gea (France/Greece), Angel...

Art Reveal Magazine no. 50  

Jasmine Collings (UK), Liam Collins (UK), Audrey Kay Dowling (USA), Martha Ellis (UK), Qi Fang (UK/China), Sandra Gea (France/Greece), Angel...

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