Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I come originally from Corfu, Greece, which I left when I was seventeen for the UK . I lived in London for over 20 years and am now based in Singapore. I was lucky to have studied at the Ruskin school of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. I was way too young to appreciate them then but looking back I think they were great places. I am a mum of two toddlers so at the moment I split my time between studio and motherhood. But I’ve discovered peeling sweet potatoes and mashing peas CAN be very inspiring indeed!
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
My dad is also a painter so as long as I can remember I’ve been involved in making art, looking at art, talking about art. We always had a studio at home and lots of art materials at hand I could play with. It was a privilege. I did try to get away from art for a bit but I always missed it too much and got back to it.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I absolutely love the tropical nature in Singapore. I live near the botanical gardens and every morning I walk through palm trees, bamboos and huge Monstera plants. It’s a baroque, exaggerated kind of nature and I can’t get enough of it.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
My imagery is tapping onto ideas about colonialism, exoticism and taste. These were always present in my work but have become more relevant since I’ve moved to Asia. Food imagery is also somehow creeping in. However the very process of making is what intrigues me to investigate painting’s power to transcend imagery by breaking it down to the basics of color, shape, pattern and composition. I love painting’s power to bridge reality and fiction, the everyday and the extra-ordinary.
My painting has changed considerably in the last six months. I moved away from more monochromatic compositions to a more colorful palette. I have also been working faster reducing the layering and allowing a more immediate sort of approach
What is your process like?
I base my imagery on drawings, photographs and found imagery. There is often an editing process, combining and reducing elements when I translate my starting points onto the canvas or paper. At a certain stage the starting point is forgotten altogether and I focus on the composition in an abstract kind of way. I might leave a piece for a while and get back to it with fresh eyes. I also tend to have bursts of energy and work on several pieces at the same time followed by a slower period where I look and change things very gradually.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
As I already mentioned the exotic plants and tropical nature around have become very present in my latest work. Patterns as well as still life objects like pots and pans are present too. I used to make ceramics which I loved and would like to get back to but for the moment they are just appearing in the paintings. I guess motherhood and spending a lot of time at home has forced me to look to domestic objects more closely. I often wonder how our taste for domestic environments has been conditioned through history and culture.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Hmm I have in the past worked in a ski suit wearing a hat and gloves in an ice cold studio in London. No need for that in Singapore….its more like working in your bikini here.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I used to split studio time with art teaching for many years. I did love my job teaching and I always wished I had more time for both. Now my time is split between studio and motherhood.
Studio time can be very lonely sometimes and it is healthy to be part of another more social environment. But it depends on the individual and time constrains of course.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
My father is probably my most honest and valuable critic. He is not afraid to be harsh, which is important.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
An advice I often need to give to myself: Enjoy making what you are making. Be truthful to yourself. Don’t make your work for the art market or anyone else.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
A local but also global community of artists and art workers that can honestly talk to each other about their concerns and difficulties and that can often give recommendations and practical advice, for example where can one get some stretchers made in Singapore??
What is your studio like?
It’s a shared studio in a large office building in Kallang. It has high ceilings, good lighting and plenty of space. Lovely people there too although I don’t see them much.
I still miss my much smaller and worn out studio at the back of my garden in London though. It felt a bit more personal. I almost feel I am making my work with that space in mind in a funny sort of way.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I don’t have the luxury of choosing my studio time… I go to the studio as soon as I have time. I spend three longer days there at the moment and some extra afternoons. Depending on the day I also draw and work from home in the evenings.
I used to listen to music but at the moment I love listening to the radio in the studio- the news, documentaries, cookery programmes. It might sound bizarre but I love listening to the shipping weather forecast. I find it soothing and incomprehensible at the same time.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
Studying art was an important part of my life. It gave me a concentrated amount of time to push, change, reject and moderate my work, It was a time I thought about it intensely and discussed it with other artists.
It is a privilege to have that focus on the work. However it does not have to be a University degree- there are other programmes and residencies that offer this opportunity. An MFA used to be one of the only ways to get exposure in the past but I believe things might be changing lately.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Oh there are so many things..to name a few:
-Pursuing something that does not guarantee any success whatsoever is very hard. Convincing others that that pursuit is worth it is even harder.
-The sheer practical problems of having to transport and store art is exhausting- I wish I could just be happy making tiny things….
– Having to write proposals and figure out budgets about work that you have not made yet is another daunting thing.
-Keeping up with the art world while having kids is a challenge to say the least…
How would you define “success” in art?
Ultimately I consider it a success if I go to the studio and feel like picking up my brushes to make work. Maintaining my curiosity and desire to move paint around is the real success for me.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I have been very lucky to have exhibited work in great spaces before, taken part in residencies and to won some art prizes. I have also met some wonderful people through art. However my main accomplishment has been to allow myself to slow down, to make the work without expectations.
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
I have in the past co-curated shows which I really enjoyed. I have also been an art educator for many years but in mainstream education.
What are you working on right now?
I am building up a new body of work based on recent observations and drawings of the last six months. There have been a lot of changes in my life in the last year or so and I feel I am processing them through this new series of work.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to add a ‘Thank you!’ to initiatives like yours that promote and expose the work of artists and act as a springboard for other things.