Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m from Worksop, Nottinghamshire. I graduated from Leeds arts university in the summer and now I’m on the MA Painting course at the Royal College of Art in London.
I was making paintings for a few years before I started studying but I always had the feeling of maybe being an outsider artist. Now I realise that way of thinking about art isn’t the best way of seeing things, and believe in breaking down those kind of hierarchies.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I always loved drawing and making things. When I was young I used to draw images I thought were interesting from magazines. I probably started doing that when I was about 7 or 8, I’m 28 now and my work today is not much different – I’m not sure what that says.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I moved to London about 3 months ago. There is so many openings and exhibitions to see. It is very exciting and fast paced. I feel spoilt for choice! You meet interesting people all the time. The RCA is an amazing place to study, it is such an inspiring environment and everyone is so focused on what they do, which is so motivating to be around.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I just started working on my dissertation, the working title is ‘Materiality and Meaning’.
The main things I’m thinking about are to do with the way we receive values and meaning in images, and how this shapes our perspective. The nature of our images culture is more transient than ever, and the is a kind of groundless shifting of values created through a continuous flux of images. I’m interested in how painting as a physical medium interrupts these effects of this flow, and how paint can act as a mirror or allegory to that sort of deceptiveness in the digital image. There is also a traditional aspect of paint, it has an aristocratic history, I’m interested in how this context effects the image.
My work has changed over the past few years, I find myself returning to similar themes or realising relationships between old and new work.
What is your process like?
I start by collecting and sorting images, from social media, the internet, art history, magazines, newspapers, friends. I then make small studies, usually drawings, watercolours or oil pastels. I then carry that through to making the painting in oil on canvas, the time of which varies dramatically. Some of the paintings i am happiest with only take a day, some take 3 weeks and i end up painting over them.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I sometime get inspired by talking to someone in the pub, or talking about other peoples work. I draw a lot of ideas from art writers like Maggie Nelson, Boris Groys, Hito Steyerl.
The subject of my work varies massively because of the nature of the way I collect images, but looking back at images I used recently there are recurrent themes of things that cover or act as surfaces and layers like sheets and leaves, and things like shadows, that are not the thing itself but exist in relationship to something tangible. I like these kind of allegories in painting.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
I’ve been asked to do some strange things. If you are really devoted to art, just starting out or struggling, you can sometimes be at risk of being exploited. I know there are some really funny things people could probably answer to that question. But I think that’s quite a serious problem and you hear horror stories about the unscrupulous things sometimes going on.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
At the moment I am studying for an MA and making paintings, I don’ t currently have another job.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
My Tutor at the RCA is John Slyce. He is great!
I mostly like talking through ideas with friends, that is a big influence.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
My advice would be that you have to work hard, that there aren’t any shortcuts. But at the same time to do what you enjoy, or find ways to enjoy it.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
Its good to have a community to share ideas and collaborate, but also to have time to yourself, to introspect. I feel that community is necessary to make work, but also to necessary for staying sane.
What is your studio like?
I have a shared studio at the RCA. On my BA course in Leeds I used to have an external studio to the college studio, I found it really important to be able to work alone. I think it relates to the answer to the question above, its important to have the balance. I still work from home sometimes, making little studies in my flat.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
The only real ritual or mindset for me is to make sure i’m concentrated. Its so easy to get distracted or think about other things.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
I don’t think it’s essential to attend art school. It is helpful at providing the support, but ultimately its probably more important how much you put into what your doing.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
It is such a desirable industry, there is a lot of competition. You are running every aspect of a business on top of finding the time to make paintings. To do that there are a lot of sacrifices. To be in it I think you really have to believe in it. There’s a misconception about artists not being disciplined, it can be really hard work.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I recently won the Ingram Purchase Prize for recent art graduates. It was the first time I won anything art related and I couldn’t believe it, I was so shocked!
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a new body of work for a solo exhibition at bo.lee gallery later this year. bo.lee runs a great programme of exhibitions directed by curator Jemma Hickman and they are also celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, I’m over the moon to show there.