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- what role does imagery and collage have in your practice? A- The overwhelming foundation within my work is imagery so i consider it vital from beginning to end of any particular piece. Beginning with found imagery, progressing to a particular narrative and a physical existence of a new story told by old memories and old imagery. It is alive as a constant undercurrent within my practise and its constantly informing myself and my decisions. As i see my collages as pre-cursers to paintings they serve as a constant reference before, during and after the painting process. I also like the idea of manipulating imagery, taking any particular part of a picture that used to tell one story and i use it to tell another using pieces of others. The relation of manipulation with imagery and the manipulation of people during the rise of Nazism is something that interests me - how do you go about selecting images to use for collage? The narrative within my work is European history of the last 100 years and in particular the rise of nazism in Germany and Europe, its effect on the rest of the world. But initially the selection process didn't exist and i was okay with this, as, for me, it was about collecting imagery subconsciously to try and find a format that worked for what i wanted to say. After i found myself hugely drawn into a particular area of imagery, selection become more of a conscious decision, but didn't become harder or more arduous for that, in any sense. If anything it freed me up to create the correct narrative. The images i use now are informative and historical for the much part but i always allow room for change or movement. However the real need is for them to suggest a dark regime, of horror and control, sinister realisation and with a dark humour involved. - how do you use composition as a tool for making a successful collage/ what, for you, is a successful collage? For me composition is either something that works or doesn't work, i don't set out to achieve it nor reject it, my work is about a story and i feel that if the narrative is achieved then the composition seems to naturally follow. I guess the story is first and for most but you could argue that they work as parallels. - how do you feel you can transform your collages into other things, paintings for example? Initially my collages were created as an outlet to form composition onto canvas or board but i quickly figured out that they stand alone as delicate, intrusive pieces in their own right. I also realised that just copying a collage onto board for a painting would just be that, a copy and therefore the collages would lose originality. My solution for this would be to use a variation of collages, maybe 4 or 5 as a starting point that would inform and act as many references to work from. It is also important for me to not make use of a computer or photoshop as i enjoy the physicality of them and i feel this will translate more efficiently into a painting. - how conscious is your use of scale? Scale has no importance to me, no relevance nor reference. There are some

perspectives within my work but it's mainly about a awkward, controlling moment, a series of suspense in a part of history i have no direct relation to but from memory, imagery and history i can portray. I have collages that are small and large, however the paintings they inform are of a large size. Anything from 4, 5, 6 foot, and this is important to me as i feel they mainly take places within the middle ground of a painting and i like to create space, achieving this on a smaller scale would restrict me.

- how do you feel your influences of john heartfield, john stezaker and hannah hoch impact your own decision making when it comes to making work? Influences from other artists are huge, i see it as a necessity and i don't feel any shame from taking parts of other artists work, it is there for us all to see and learn from, enjoy and take what we want from. Stezakers use of found imagery is hugely inspirational and his use of the concept and physicality of 'cut'. I get a wider sense of interest in Heartfield and Hochs work because of the time it was created and the message and story it/they was/were trying to convey. Their work had an importance in a time that needed it. The images were created out of desperation and desire to overthrow a dictator or regime that restricted much or what they believed in. Although my work turns its head away from propaganda i am always aware that when creating an image i am forcing some sort of message onto the consumer that watches it. I aways have the concept of dadaism in the back of my mind as i want to create that same tension. - how does drawing influence your practice? Drawing is always something that is a continual practise and is undertaken before and during collages and painting. It doesn't have a direct influence on either but helps me to blend the two. To try and work out a relation between the two using particular pen marks similar to brush marks that are specific to me and my practise. Drawing is always important. - in a lot of artists work, and particularly in some of your influences, there are very strong references that reoccur and i'm interested in the idea of a motif in the work of an artist. what do you think your motif is in your own work, if any? I guess the main distinctive feature in my work derives from European History as a whole and in particular the relation between the oppressed and the oppressor. How that relationship coexisted on very tight and dark circumstance and in many cases didn't exist. I take particular interest in the way people lived their lives and i try to suggest the normality of a family room that has a constant overwhelming power control over it. The use of dark sinister humour is important as i feel it frees up the image from just being a historical repeat or a factual painting. I use specific references like part of world war 2 aircraft or art that was taken during this period. I like the idea of invasion into the mind, into a safe place. Referencing is important as i need to be factual but tell it in my own way. I want to create paintings and collages that evoke an emotion of an uncomfortable nature, i want to viewer to be involved to the point they feel slightly awkward and want to know the rest of the story because i guess my works are one part of a story that suggest something terrible happening before

or just after.

A Conversation....  

A short interview conducted between Leeds based painted Sam Potter and myself. Carried out in december 2011.