Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. Have you gone through the traditional route of art school and what was your experience?
I always knew I wanted to be an artist and my education has reflected this. I studied art at GCSE, A-Level and then Foundation. I then went to Loughborough University to study a BA in Fine Art. During this time I was making these huge large-scale paintings in mixed media and collage. I graduated in 2015 and I took some time out to work independently as an artist. Nottingham has an amazing creative community and I had numerous studio residencies, whilst continuing to exhibit nationally. I also worked for two art galleries whilst working as a van driver up and down the country. Three jobs and an art practise is not something that I would recommend to anyone, but I somehow managed to keep that going for quite a long time! In 2018 I was selected for an international research residency with La Wayaka Current in the indigenous region of Guna Yala, Panama. I have always felt very passionately about forests and the local communities that cultivate them. This experience had a profound impact on my work. I’d always wanted to go to the Royal College of Art. The school was the only option for me, and the Masters in Painting was the only course that I applied to. I have now completed my first year at the RCA and this would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the Ali H Alkazzi Scholarship award, for which I am immensely grateful. I was also awarded the Djanogly Art Award at the time.
What’s the message of your work? Are there themes/narratives/purpose?
Within my painting there is a continuous desire or interest in a relationship with the natural world — its flora and fauna and mysteries. I draw on collective memories of landscapes to create works that deeply connect to the human psyche. The paintings exist as an attempt to inhabit the space of an in-between, the interval between ‘worlds’ – an attempt to open up a space for these transformations. For me the forest in particular is a recurring motif in the work and it stands as a metaphor and a model of thinking, a reflection of our existence in this social climate. What makes a forest rich and fertile is the interactions and interdependencies. I’m interested in how all of these things are connected and how they translate into my painting process. I favour this notion of interrelation in order to create a second nature, a mimesis, a bodily knowledge, a means of ‘contact’ between distant beings, in different realms, different time zones.
Where do they come from? How would you describe your aesthetic?
I have always had this strong sense of interdependence and connection to nature. The forests that I have experienced have become my muse. I grew up next to a forest and since lockdown happened I have moved back home. I decided to make this forest my studio. The light, the shadows, the trees… it is so quiet and protected. You can hear your own breath and your body and in some ways for me I guess that is very comforting. This solitude and this stillness that I can retreat into with my work has become something I really value, within my work and my life. I would describe my aesthetic as active, rhythmic, chaotic painting with a vibrancy of colour. There is this freedom of going back and forth. I’ve always wanted to embrace the impossible space of a painting and to make clear that this is a highly artificial space. Tonal values and passages are laid down using heavily loaded brush work; pockets of space and washes create depth. My brushwork plays with how paint acts on a surface, marks are painted intuitively and act as an entangled foliage of sorts; a network of botanical bonds. The notion that the experience of a landscape is connected in some intangible way with deeper matters relating to our personal existence and the span of life remains strange and hard to define. I want people to look at my paintings for longer, I don’t want them to be clear. I want to convey the idea that nothing is too fixed.