In the Studio with Miya Brown

Miya Browne is a contemporary visual artist whose practice is cocksure and confident, provoking the canvas and viewer as they play with ideas in paint that gravitate between nothingness and intense representation. We met with Miya to tell us a little more about growing up in London, their unexpected sources of inspiration and how they've become the artist they are today.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist? 
When I began to make my first abstract paintings. In the second year of my BA, I hit a turning point and I had that
lightbulb moment. Previous to that, my work was shit and it was trial and error really. I had that moment where I thought, this is my life, this is what I live for… this is me!

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?

I was born and bred in London and I think that has influenced my palette. The concrete and scarcity of nature and green spaces.

 Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice, artistic work? Was there a pivotal moment when you felt you were on the right track?
I was always that kid that loved art and I remember getting selected to do art things as young as in nursery. It’s in my blood and my destiny. I have just followed it through from the start to present; school, college, BA and now an MA at RCA. I live for my work, it’s who I am. It wasn’t so much that I was inspired by a specific artist, I was more inspired with making the work than anything else. I would spend hours after school working on my art homework. Making art is like eating for me. It’s a necessity – I need to make work ygm!

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from? How would you describe your aesthetic?

The message of my work, now that’s a complex question and also impossible to narrow down to one fixed idea. The thing people need to understand is there is not a fixed idea of anything and things are always changing. The themes I explore at present are from ‘nothingness’ to intense representation – ‘human’, ‘subhuman’, and ‘other’ and now more currently ‘moments’. I am interested in the incalculable and that comes through with the idea of ‘nothingness’ and ‘moments’. It’s like my recent body of landscapes called ‘Sunset moment’. What is that and how can you apply this idea with an adjective? As with ‘nothingness’, what does It mean to ‘nothing’ something and what is ‘nothing’? Through figuration I hijack Master’s paintings as I am into composition and I like to play around with the recognisable – the icon and of course, all of these themes I bring into the performance and the digital. My main aesthetic is to maintain an achromatic palette.

Who and what are your greatest influences?

Francis Bacon was always an inspiration, as with all the old Masters when it comes to composition. Caree Mae
Weems, Kitchen Table Series, Mark Bradford, Glenn Ligon.

An unexpected source of inspiration?

My unexpected source is cooking in the kitchen. That’s what I’m doing when I’m making work, bringing in those domestic feminine abilities, showcasing that!

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?

Audience is important, ‘who’ is a big question, I’m thinking about that always. I am trying to make my work accessible through the use of different mediums, sound, visual, touch & taste.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art evolved? Do you experiment? 

Everything in my life is an influence. I don’t think one can separate themselves from the work. I am constantly developing my knowledge of painting and that’s how it’s evolving, through technique and conversation. My work is all experimental. its trial and error and it will always change as we are all changing and growing like plants. ☺

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

I’m not sure about this question because ‘good’ is subjective and why is it about making ‘good’ work? I don’t set out to make good work, I set out to experience this feeling that you get when you make work. It’s more about going through a journey, each canvas is like a partner, it is like having a relationship – it’s emotive. It is about feeling alive, energised on top of the world. It’s the verb: to make a painting. The way I make work is not with ‘good’ work in mind. That is a terrible idea, never do it!

Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your (consignment) works?

My consignment works are a conversation with the material. Grey, white and black. They study tonalities and textures showcasing simplicity. It is about stripping back the marks and what you’re left with. There’s the feeling of the gestural which is beautiful!

Something in the future you hope to explore?

Pandemic limitations had left me with a gap in my practice. I will explore the tangible and taste as I think those are important. I am interested in the maternal bond, mother and child and I think the senses are very much embedded within that.


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