First, I’d love to know a bit more about you! Where are you from? What first interested you in painting?
I’m from Kent in England. I live and work in South East London. I come from quite an artistic family; my grandma and mum used to paint and my sister is an illustrator. I used to see what my sister was studying in art class at school and became really interested in it. She showed me a Francis Bacon painting when I was 12 or 13 and I’ve been interested ever since.
Can you tell me about your practice? What kind of themes are you exploring?
I tend to have a few things on the go at once. In my figurative work I’m exploring themes of identity and gender and how we identify as human. In my text based pieces I explore themes of self loathing, violence, embarrassment, loss and guilt. Both tend to dip into themes of struggling to come to terms with the past. My work is an an attempt to document or archive loosely the visceral gut feelings, experiences and memories of life and is a response to me trying to figure out my place in the world.
What is your process like? How do you get started on a piece?
Normally I have a photo or word in mind that I’d like to start working from. I usually draw a vague outline of a figure and then rarely reference the original photo again. I fill the void with colours and brush strokes. Painting a portrait is a really mindless, out of body process for me -my mind has to be relaxed and at ease and I can’t force this process. When I’m painting words I am much more aware and involved critically in the painting process because it involves structures, textures, symbols and most importantly words. Painting words is a more performative process for me so I play around with the words a lot and perform different kinds of handwriting. The way the words are received changes depending on how they are painted. I’m a painter of habit and routine so there will always be certain colours and symbols/structures that appear in my work and I tend to always finish my paintings with an outline of some sort.
How would you describe your studio or workspace?
My studio is a mess. There are things everywhere. It’s important for me to work in a place where there’s lots of colour and visual imagery, but it does my head in as well sometimes, because there’s too much stuff.
What about a favorite tool or object in your studio that you wouldn’t want to be without?
I’d say my brushes. I hardly ever clean them. I still use some of the same ones I got in college.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Is there some advice you’ve received that you’re glad you ignored?
That it’s not about what everyone else is doing, it’s about working harder than you worked yesterday or the day before and bettering yourself. Just keep making work no matter what.
You’ve done some collaborations; how important is it to be a part of a community or a network of other artists?
It’s the best thing to be surrounded by so many creative people. Whether it’s my friends making art in London or the artists I’ve encountered online, we all support each other’s work and check in on what each other is getting up to. The work they’re creating is on another level. Whenever I’m lost I look to their work and motivates me.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about pursuing art, either creatively or professionally?
To keep yourself motivated constantly to make work regardless of what situation you’re in or what materials you’ve got access to.
Having graduated a relatively short while ago, is there anything you wish would have been addressed more or differently in university that would have been helpful after you left the academic setting?
To fundamentally just make what you want and what you like, support your local artists and that it’s okay to be quiet and not good at communicating about your work – these are really important things that I learnt on my own I think. University is a really competitive, critical place. It’s easy to forget that everyone’s there cos they love making art. I was quite lost throughout the whole journey and for a long time after I graduated. I was exhausted from talking about my work so I was very quiet for a long time after and just focussed on gaining confidence in my own practice. It took a long time to get here but I am finally in a position now where I make what I want and I don’t have to answer to anyone.
How would you define “success?”
I think success can be defined over time. So for me it would be that my work is in a better place than it was last year. I look back at my work over the last few years and I can see how far it’s come. I set myself goals and I work towards them. Every year I need to be making the truest and best work I can make. I try not to overwhelm myself with longing for success – as long as I’m getting by and making work then I’m happy.
What are you currently working on? Any upcoming exhibitions or projects?
Upcoming exhibitions are currently under wraps, but I will be in a few group shows coming up this year! Other than that I’m in the process of moving studios so once that is over and I’m settled in the new place I’m gonna crack on with a series of large scale figurative works that I ran out of space to do in my old studio.
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