What drives your passion – when did you know that art is what you wanted to do?
My mother always used to tell me I was ‘deep’. The desperate need to ‘express’ and ‘expel’ deep personal thoughts and feelings (often subconscious) by means of a visual language instead of words drives my passion for creating art. It is something I need to do, it keeps me ‘sane’ for the want of a better word. When I see or feel something which takes my breath away, I can only fully express how I feel in a visual way.
When did you know that art is what you wanted to do?
For as long as I can remember, I have drawn. I find it easier to explain what I am trying to say with a drawing. I have never ever wanted to do anything else.
How did you get to where you are now in your career?
Being passionate and committed 100% to my work is why I am where I am in my career. Determination, hard work as well as a refusal to accept the word ‘NO’ in many instances, including never giving up on a difficult piece of work. I have been described as being driven and I would agree with that.
What do you make and what are the ideas behind what you make?
Drawing lies at the root of everything I create, but I have a need to express myself in various media, which includes printmaking (mostly etching), drawing (mostly in pastel), painting in water-based media and working in three dimensions using mixed media. My work is contemporary figurative and has been described as a bit surreal. My images are created from my imagination and are often from subconscious thoughts.
What inspires you?
Foreign travel and experiencing different cultures inspires my work. When I am in another country or in a very different environment, I see an object, building or landscape which I am immediately drawn to. If it is an object, I will bring it back to my studio. I never understand why something fascinates me, but it stays in my head and eventually appears in my work in a symbolic way.
Where do you work?
I work mainly in my studio which is at the bottom of my garden. It has two rooms, one for etching and the other for painting, drawing and making three-dimensional work. I often continue working on into the evening if I am etching and do this in my house. I also travel through to Glasgow Print Studio one day a week to print etchings.
What is your average working day?
I start work around 9.30 am with a short break for lunch then work through to 4.30pm when I stop to make dinner. Afterwards, I return to my studio and work until about 9pm. If I am working towards an exhibition, I often work until midnight. I work 7 days a week.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a new series of work for a large exhibition in 2018, which is a collaboration with another artist printmaker. It will include a number of collaborative etchings and linocuts. I am very excited about this new way of working and look forward to seeing the results. I am also preparing for a large solo exhibition in Linlithgow Burgh Halls as an invited artist. I am reasonably well prepared for this but there is still much to organise.
In what way does being Scottish influence your work?
A few years ago I realised that I had never really explored my own Scottish culture and began to visit the castles and palaces of Scotland. Stirling Castle and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh were of particular interest. Discovering a wealth of new and ancient Scottish symbolism began a new series of Scottish inspired work.
Around this time I was one of the invited artists to make a print to celebrate Glasgow Print Studios 40th anniversary. The timing was perfect for me since I was currently steeped in Scottish culture. When I completed my etching for the exhibition, I realised that it had been very much influenced by the Scottish Referendum which was taking place at the same time. The title of my print was “Dies Anniversarius” (The Anniversary)
In what way does living in Scotland influence your work?
I consider myself very privileged to have studied in Scotland at the world renowned Glasgow School of Art, undoubtedly one of the finest Art Schools in the world. The building itself which was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh is a masterpiece and a great source of inspiration to all who are lucky enough to study there.
Living in Scotland is not only rich in history, which feeds my work, but is also rich in art galleries and museums which feed the soul.
Feature image: June Carey, Kisses Tempt Me, Thoughts Haunt Me, gouache