Random Conversations caught on the Dictaphone 2011 – 2013

(Questions have been generated and answers have been edited for easy reading and understanding. Additional inserts in brackets have been added by Donna at a later time. Names have been changed.)


Q: Where do you find inspiration?

…I really appreciate good design and high quality craftsmanship.

I’d love to get onto a furniture design and making course and make functional works of art, especially [furniture] with unusual materials that challenge traditional designs and functionality…

How about a chair with 5 glass legs? Or a wooden framework wrapped around a pillar with a plank clamped to it so that it serves only to hold your wine glass. It’s just a really elaborate table!…[Laughter] …I’m going to make that!

I’d love to learn more carpentry skills too…my brother and uncle are both carpenters so maybe that’s where that idea comes from. I just have to learn how to hold a drill straight and stop using a knife for a screwdriver!

I remember being interested in wood from a really young age and asking dad to bring home some [wood] – I wanted to make a box and he came home the next day with a lovely wooden dolls house he had made that afternoon – I was so disappointed!

[Inspiration for me comes from good design elements, geometric shape, pattern, line, colour and scale as well as things happening around me – people I meet, films, the environment I reside in and travel. The world really is my oyster!]

Q: Why do you create art?

…Because I can’t count, I hate bookkeeping. I can barely write an essay! [Laughter]

… I’m very interested in the relationship between the artwork and the viewer and watching it develop. It’s strange when the audience are invited to touch the work. They are very hesitant. ‘Can I really touch this?’ It goes against the idea that art is very precious and like the top of a baby’s head, must not be touched or damaged!

[British artist] Anish kapoor created a collection of large mirrors [Vertigo and Non-Object (Pole), both 2008] and dotted these around a huge exhibition space. I can’t remember where I saw the work. [The Royal Academy, 2009] At first people walked quickly around it to see the whole room first and then went back to random pieces and then they started to interact…the mirrors were bent and so the reflections were distorted. Eventually we became childlike and giggled with strangers around us. The room was packed. Personal space evaporated. For me, the audience became the artwork and the mirrored objects just disappeared.

…For me there is something in creating a work of art that brings out the child within and creating work that children can too enjoy and participate.

[The geometric shapes, sculptures and bright colours in my works are essentially my building blocks and I’m just playing with different combinations and seeing what happens.]

Q: You don’t like to be labelled as a particular artist. Does this create problems when trying to explain to others what you do?

People ask me what type of art I do and usually follow quickly with a question asking if I paint flowers? I can’t help but laugh and as I anticipate their face and their look of confusion when I try to explain the many different things I do, the materials I use. I don’t like to talk about the work… I tend to be a bit vague in my answer, which doesn’t help either!

Q: Do people understand your pieces, because you say yourself that you are reluctant to talk about the meanings behind your work?

…He [Tutor] just said ‘I don’t care about the meaning, it’s not important’ which relaxed me somewhat…He was only telling me to play more because I was getting stuck about what my work should be meaning…Mike tells me the same.

[As long as you’re having conversations with your work during the making and asking yourself why you’re creating particular pieces of work/making certain choices and being aware on the context in which your work places itself, the rest doesn’t matter. It’s the conversation that drives the work not the meaning. As long as the work is meaningful to myself, it doesn’t matter how others perceive the work, whether they like it or not if it reminds them of an alien spaceship, but to me a horse!]

…Their [The audience] experiences are very different to mine and so they are bound to interpret the work differently. Other people’s meaning of the work is irrelevant to me. What is important is how people move through and interact with the work [Installation]… I’m also interested in how installations can change a space so it is unrecognisable, even if only for a few moments and how people react to that.

Q: How do you create a piece of work? What is your process?

[I don’t just create a work of art because I have an image in my head. Most of the time it can be something as simple as a shape or a pattern or colour that can trigger my thought process. When I start to create, I’m having a conversation and I’m asking myself, why I like a certain colour, and what would happen if I did this and the work develops.]

…Often there is no reason for creating a particular piece – The harmony, aesthetics and balance of materials or colours just. …Work!

Q: How do you mix very different materials? You can’t use wood glue to stick wood to metal?

…Obviously you can’t use wood glue to stick wood and metal together so I have to come up with other ways. One might be to secure with bolts and nuts. [Or perhaps stitch the two together?]

…I’m working with plastic and metal shapes. I cut a hole in each shape and the insert a metal nut with a washer on each side and then a bolt on the end. The result – A free standing sculpture that can be taken apart in reassembled in a different order to achieve a different aesthetic. Why? Because it allows the viewer to interact with the work directly to create his or her own art and not be precious with it.

…It’s all about people interacting with the work David!

Q: Who are your favourite Artists?

Artists I tend to revisit for inspiration are Ernesto Neto and Anish Kapoor who both create art works that unite and interact with the viewer and also have the ability to completely alter the space in which their work resides.

[For textile sculptures I like the work of pattern designer Tomoko Nakamichi who creates intricate shapes and forms with fabric. My favourite artist has to be Peter Shire and Alexander Calder who both create carefully designed and aesthetically functional works of art that can be incorporated into everyday life. David Smith and Picasso are never far from my thoughts as I continue to explore the idea of ‘drawing in space’.]

Q: You like to mix materials. Why?

I combine glass and plaster, plywood and acrylic, metal and natural wool…

[Weird combinations in a single piece of work create all sorts of challenges.]

…The relationships between the two materials become more interesting.

[Natural wool will actually bend metal if wrapped around two poles tightly. This fascinates me.  I also screen print onto fabric and then use that fabric to create a variety of sculptures that may be stuffed with toy stuffing, expanding foam and straw! This is just me playing with the properties of various materials and experimenting.’]

Q: Why is being skilled artist and using traditional techniques important to you?

[My family are skilled either in a trade (carpentry, knitting, landscaping, hairdressing, building, welding, gardening and general DIY) or in the farming industry (Herdsman) and we lived in the agricultural community surrounded by woods and fields so it was inevitable that I would end up doing something with my hands too.]

…I created a 8 piece French knitting kit that enabled me to move from one spool to the next that had potential to create a really weird knitted shape…It was functional, but not practical and there are modern inventions can do the same job in less than half the time. But the experience made me really value the process of making tools and the skills (old and new) needed to use the tools and create the finished product.