SHORT ARTIST INTERVIEWS
SHORT INTERVIEW WITH MARIE LOUISE WRIGHTSON
TELEPHONE INTERVIEW 9 MAY 2020
The messages behind the
WHY ART ?
From a young age I was always drawing and copying comic or book illustrations. I suffered from dyslexia, so I was always drawn to image.
I used to love old picture books and the book illustrations of Arthur Rackham (Wind in the Willows), Sir John Tenniel (Alison in Wonderland) and the children’s book illustrations of Kate Greenaway. I also loved the pre-Raphaelite art movement (dreaminess and romance) and the US artist Norman Rockwell (his amazing eye for detail and the way he captured faces and expressions).
I knew from an early age that I wanted to go to Art School. The irony was that I did not actually go until I was 28.
Wrightson (b.1972) studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee BA (Hons) (1:1) 2001-04 and MFA 2004-05.
ART SCHOOL ?
I knew that I wanted a career in painting beyond art school. It helped that I was a mature student as (sadly) many of my fellow students (aspiring artists) dropped art to concentrate on their conceptual focus.
I stuck to my guns as I wanted to really learn the basic craft of painting. It was a great four years of creative learning. I loved working in an imaginative environment, inter-acting with other artists.
Even at art school, my focus has always been on the imagery and the messages behind the imagery rather than representational art.
HOW DID YOUR ART DEVELOP ?
My favourite book as a child was Alice in Wonderland. Indeed I have a collection of 50-60 Alice in Wonderland books with different illustrations inside. I love the fantasy, the sense of getting lost in another world with all of the quirky characters (their visual descriptions).
I was also an avid comic fan. In particular, the works of (Marvel Comics) Stan Lee who created all these fictional (but realistic) superheroes. I was also drawn to the Pop Art movement of the 1960’s that challenged the traditions of fine art with imagery of our popular or mass culture written in an advertising and comic (graphic) language. The emphasis on a parody of the banal and kitschy. The idealisation of mass production.
My work seeks to harvest all these elements.
It is the imagery that I am interested in rather than the (text) content. I am trying to create the Front Cover – the image (illustration) that Wows you and draws you in to the story inside.
In this show I pay homage various contributors to our emotional development including the UNIVERSAL PICTURES cult films (1920’s – 1950’s) that scared and terrorised our parents and grandparents, the Disney Villains that remind us of the presence of evil lurking round the corner, the cult 1984 film Ghostbusters and finally the (DC Comics) Justice League including superhero Wonder Woman who fights all evil to save mankind.
THIS SHOW ?
In creating this series I wanted to create paintings that would fit together as a collection. I would like to show people that I am not a boring artist.
My desire is to create modern, characterful, feature wall paintings that offer you an element of escapism (fantasy) and challenge the viewer to study and interpret them - to find and feel the power of the underlying message.
I want to reach into a little bit of your soul !
THREE MODERN ARTISTS Marie Louise Wrightson, Hanna Kaciniel and Garry
Scheduled for Saturday 16th May to Sunday 24th May 2020
SHORT INTERVIEW WITH CECILIA CARDIFF
TELEPHONE INTERVIEW 14 APRIL 2020
Always Look on the Bright Side
WHY ART ?
As a child I was always drawing and painting. When I went through school, I found that I was always happier in the Art Department rather than in of the other (more academic) mainstream
It just always felt very natural to me to be drawing or painting.
YOUR FASCINATION WITH PEOPLE ?
I don’t know why, but I have always been fascinated by people.
I love them !
I always look at people’s anatomy – the different shapes and body language. When I am speaking to someone, I will be looking at their posture and how they gesture as they speak, their eyes and even how their nose looks.
I like to study people in situations, to see how they move or react to other people.
I am very conscious of the fact that I am always looking/staring at people. I probably observe more than most.
It was while I was in Paris (seven years ago) and sitting in a café with my family, having a glass of wine and enjoying the moment that I began to notice and study the café’s waiters moving from
table to table. I thought that it would be great to capture that feeling of pleasure that we get when we break from our routine (back home) and get to enjoy and absorb that short (travel) break that
we have been looking forward to.
It might be everyday life (routine) for the waiters, but for their customers (audience) they are in a setting that they view as (relative) paradise.
I wanted to capture the rose-tinted-glasses (how our senses are heightened) in these situations and everything (people and environment) looks so much better (when we are in an away-from-home or foreign setting).
A nice but quite ordinary café (in say Paris) and grumpy waiters can take on a whole new dimension when we let our excitement and imagination run.
I want my paintings (narratives) to capture and remind people of the buzz we get from these special holidays or moments of pleasure when we let our sensors go into overdrive.
SO YOU ARE CREATING A PIECE OF MICRO THEATRE ?
I always look for a focal point for dramatic effect – the main character/s.
I want to build a narrative. Every good painting needs a story or movement to pull you in. I use light (electric or sunlight) within my compositions to strengthen the depth of contrasts and to create (theatrical) atmosphere.
Theatre Lighting - many of the paintings will also use a high tone, such as white, to create highlights and points of interest within the painting.
I use thousands of reference images to audition my characters. Often, I combine characters from different images (my cast) to create my scene.
I deliberately avoid using a constant palette. My colours will respond to both the subject-setting and indeed my own mood. They might reflect a sunny day outdoors or I might feel that I want a more moody, intimate interior setting.
My flowers ? My flower stall paintings are my escape. Sometimes I need to get away from my waiters/waitresses. I love the freedom that I have with the flower shapes and colours. That said, I also know that I might stump many of the horticulturalists who might not recognise many of the new flower varieties that I have invented !
I believe that an artist needs to be able to use their canvas (their stage) to (perform) give pleasure to, inspire, entertain and stir the imagination of their audience.
I always take great deal of pleasure when I see a buyer walk away from one of my shows with a little bit of (inspiration/happiness/adventure*) for their wall !
(*Delete as appropriate).
CECILIA CARDIFF Solo
Scheduled for Saturday 18th April to Sunday 26th April 2020
SHORT INTERVIEW WITH RYAN MUTTER
TELEPHONE INTERVIEW 31 MARCH 2020
Art has an Important Voice
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO INTO ART ?
I would always draw, even before I could remember (my Mum told me). She remembers me drawing a ladder in 3D as a tot. I grew up with art materials (paints, brushes, art on the wall) all around me as my father was an artist (GSA Graduate) and art teacher. It also meant as a young boy, I was regularly sitting outside the art school waiting in our car watching students come out of the Mac with their portfolio cases. My Dad would also take me into his studio within the school. The whole art school experience was awe inspiring.
Having performed well in my Highers, my Father encouraged me to use the qualifications to study Architecture (at GSA) rather than art as he felt there was better security and job prospects. In my first year I would sit in the Architecture building and watch (enviously) the new version of students coming out of the Mac with their portfolio cases. I knew by the end of the first year that I was on the wrong course and I transferred to Drawing and Painting. My Dad was OK with the transfer; he knew that I was hating it !
WHAT ABOUT ART SCHOOL AND YOUR EARLY CAREER ?
I had various subject options at Art School (GSA 1996-2001). In addition to drawing and painting, I specialised in Visual Communications including illustration, graphic design, printing and photography. I wanted to go into Films. At art school I enjoyed experimenting with the fusion of the two disciplines painting and filmmaking. I would create short animations/films using paint and video editing software to produce the print elements.
Having enjoyed all aspects of my visual communications art development, for me the next stages were about gathering ‘life experience’.
Beyond art school, I spent a short time getting to know London really well and then joined a film company (based in Glasgow), but quickly became disillusioned with the (boring, labour intensive film editing) job content. It was a chat with one of the owners of the company about my goals that triggered my epiphany ‘light-bulb’ moment. He encouraged me to do what I wanted to do – painting.
From that point I focused on painting and supplemented my earnings as an industrial plumber, landscape gardener and art teacher (Ayr College teaching painting, animation and photography). These experiences also taught me about working with people.
YOUR FIGURATIVE DEVELOPMENT ?
My final project at art school was painting boxers. I was drawn to them – the tough, hardy, life-weary characters. At this stage I was using a base of sepia tones, although some colour was present. I even entered a boxing ring during a fight to film it and get a sense of the intensity of being in the middle of the action.
I also produced a themed series of nostalgic footballer paintings.
As a young boy, I was taken with my sister to visit my Great Gran who stayed in the heart of Clydebank. It was the area where my Father was brought up. We would play in fields down by the Clyde in what used to be a thriving shipbuilding industry (John Brown’s – Lusitania 1907, Aquitania 1914, Queen Mary 1936 and QEII 1967). As a young boy, driving to Clydebank along Dumbarton Road past the deserted and neglected yards, you got a sense of the impact of the decline of shipbuilding – the once proud heritage of shipbuilding was now oil rigs.
WHAT DRAWS YOU TO YOUR SHIPBUILDING PAINTINGS ?
Initially it was the ships, but then I realised I couldn’t paint the ships without the people – they were the story. I used archived material (books, photographs) to bring them back to life. I was attracted to the fact that the men would be someone’s Grandfather, Father, or Uncle. Their life may not have been notable at the time, but my paintings might bring them back to life and immortalise them.
Their story is in the paintings. I look for the character in their faces. Some are leaving the yard (1930s), happy to be going to the pub, or home. Some have no money and are unhappy because they can’t go to the pub or have to go home to the wife ! The working conditions might be cold, dark, wet but their return to home could be just as bad, living in a cold, damp, cramped tenement with eight of a family in one small space with little or no food. No creature comforts (or television).
This is a time that should not be forgotten. These people and their character should not be forgotten. Life was hard, but they had coping mechanisms like humour, taking the rip out of each other and a spirit of comradery. I try to capture that.
I also know that art has a voice. It has power. I don’t want this stuff (pockets of history) to be forgotten. I want the memories of what it was like for Great Grandparents/Grandparents, to be passed down. You can pick up a book on this period and put it away and forget it, but a painting is up on the wall – you can’t miss it. When you have art on your wall, your young will become very aware of it. You may not be conscious of it, but your children will be regularly examining the painting, perhaps asking questions, being inquisitive and reflective about the content as they shape and develop their thoughts about life. These paintings will also be here long after we are gone and I like to think that in a hundred or hundreds of years, children will still be looking at these paintings and asking questions of them and the period.
Featuring shipbuilding is also a reference and prompt/reminder about just how quickly things can change – (prescient) in Glasgow and indeed the rest of the world.
WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE ?
I have been enjoying painting landscapes. I seem to win various art awards for these paintings, but the public can’t seem to see past my connection with monochromatic/sepia work. I love places like the East Coast of Scotland. When I go into one of the Fife villages, it is like entering a mini world with boats, ropes and creels lying about. So much content - it is an artist’s visual dream.
I am also keen to return to the theme of Scrapyards at some point. I love the concept of the man-made being scrapped and crushed. It’s where we all end up. I once painted a painting called HMS Inevitable. It was (forefront) looking across the Clyde from a Ship Breakers yard to a (background) newly launched frigate. The frigate was new, but there was a certain irony in the fact that it too would be used and eventually de-commissioned and scrapped.
The inevitability of life cycle !
Two Person RYAN MUTTER and ROSANNE
Scheduled for Saturday 28th March to Sunday 5th April 2020
SHORT INTERVIEW WITH ROSANNE BARR
TELEPHONE INTERVIEW 29 MARCH 2020
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO INTO ART ?
I always loved to paint and draw. At the age of 15, I remember seeing paintings (Catterline landscapes) by the famous Scottish artist, Joan Eardley (1921-1963), which had a lasting impact on me. I always did well in the subject of art at school, but my (typical) parents (an RSAMD lecturer and Psychologist) were worried that it wasn't a career. My art teacher convinced me otherwise.
WHY LANDSCAPE ?
If you saw my degree work at Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee (1999-2003) you would not recognise it as it was very abstract and resembled aerial mapping. It is only in the last 10 or so years that I moved to landscape and introduced more realism and content.
I have always loved trips to the sea. I am happy just sitting and watching the sea, letting my mind go. I love the isolation and sense of space, being on your own. I could sit and lose myself there forever.
WHEN YOU APPROACH A BLANK CANVAS, WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO CONSTRUCT ?
My roots are abstraction, so I do not wish to be literal, describing specific places or detail. I want my paintings to be like a piece of music or a great song that you want to go back to, over and over again. I want to achieve that sense of buzz that you get when you gripped by a great tune.
I know the west coast and Orkney (where my parents live) well. I tend to use physical reference as a starting point but then I close my eyes and try to paint my memories of the scene, using a scene to inform, but not dictate my painting.
I want people to remember the melody and harmonies not the (photographic) details of the score.
I use my instincts to create the shapes and colours and very often my painting will simply emerge as I progress.
The bottom line is that I want the viewer to be taken to the places I love and for them to love and enjoy these scenes too. I also want to leave it to the viewer to interpret where they think the scene might be.
WHY LARGE CANVASES ?
I prefer to use large or wide canvases as they give me the freedom and space to paint. Very often the success of a painting is defined by the success of my starting point - the sky. I like to add marks and textures that stimulate the eye and make the content/painting enjoyable.
Not every painting is large as I also want people to be able to access pared-down versions of my paintings.
ELEMENTS OF CONTENT THAT MAKE A PAINTING ?
I am trying to convey that enjoyable sense of remoteness and isolation to the viewer. For that reason I love big skies, whether the fiery red of a sunset or a more moody, stormy sky, wide beaches and distant horizons (perspective) that invoke the desired sense of remoteness with no one else in sight. Vast expanses of water - I am fascinated by water. I want people to get a feeling of time and space that goes on forever.
Being brought up in Gartocharn (Loch Lomondside) the weather tends to be more constant. When you are in Orkney, the old saying that you can have four seasons in a day is so true. As an artist it is great to see the sudden changes in climatic conditions and face the challenges of painting these switches (the changing skies) that add dramatisation to many of my works.
CURRENT EXPERIMENTATION ?
You will see some examples in the current exhibition where there I have introduced elements of abstraction. Perhaps I am experimenting with my roots ?
Two Person RYAN MUTTER and ROSANNE BARR
Scheduled for Saturday 28th March to Sunday 5th April 2020