TELL US ABOUT THE WORK YOU ARE DISPLAYING HERE IN THE MALL GALLERIES.
There are two still life pieces. One is more traditional and the other more abstracted, which is actually my favourite. The more traditional one came first and then the second just fell out of me. Most of the still life work is inspired by old pieces I’ve had hanging around the studio forever - things picked up over the years, but it’s always exciting to stumble across something new to throw into the mix as well.
WHEN YOU ARE HAPPY WITH YOUR WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
When it’s is working! Very often, a good painting comes at the end of a struggle. It’s important to be able to challenge myself, to remain curious, to push ideas around and keep it unpredictable. It’s the accidents that work themselves out, that make me happy.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IT IS WORKING WELL?
It is more of an emotional, subconscious feeling, rather than something cognizant. Knowing when something is working comes in stage, in small fits and starts. For instance, trying out a strange mix of colours, or scratching out and working into an area that’s gone wrong, but which suddenly sets the surface in motion. It’s hard to articulate what that feeling is because it’s a deep rooted intuition that evolves as a result of the alchemy of the painting. I know it’s working well when the process doesn’t stand still.
Three Red Chairs
YOUR PICTURES ARE SLIGHT ABSTRACTIONS, WHAT IS THAT PROCESS FOR YOU?
My paintings are an emotional response to what I’m working on, so that the lines between representation and abstraction become blurred. It’s not really about the objects in front of me, which are really more of a compositional tool to play with colour, texture, space, and form. These elements enable me to describe the emotional response, which inevitably must become more abstracted.
YOUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSE, IS IT QUITE SUBTLE, AS YOU WOULDN’T NECESSARILY THINK THERE WOULD BE STRONG EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO SAY A JUG?
The objects I use are often repeated, some old, some new. Essentially they are my vocabulary to tell a story. Inspiration comes from the stuff of everyday that we take for granted, finding something overlooked, dusting it off and rediscovering it in a new context, life in the details.
My work is really a series of conversations, one leading on to the next. Quite often, I’m told that people have a strong emotional response to the work, and it’s reassuring to know this, that the piece is coming through.
IS THERE AN IMAGINATIVE PART OF YOUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSE, THAT IS WONDERING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF AN OBJECT.
Yes, of course I am thinking about the object once belonging to someone else, being part of someone else’s story and experience. It’s fun to play with this idea and work with imagination, not just always recounting, but reinventing a story. Living in Tokyo, I would visit the flea markets where there was always a wealth of beautiful objects lovingly arranged and spread out on a tarpaulin but I would have no idea what they were. Curiosity has always been a starting point for work, and having the experience of a completely new culture, tapped into working in a more imaginative way.
ONE THING THAT STANDS OUT ABOUT YOUR WORK IS THE VIBRANT COLOUR. WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU, AND HOW DOES IT RELATE TO YOUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSE?
Colour is key to the work and is the primary vehicle for viewing my paintings. Colour is emotion - it is a language all of its own, and often times can describe a feeling better than words. Although there are seemingly flat areas in the work, these are slowly built up surfaces of texture, helping to describe the emotional response. I like to work with an unpredictable combination of colour and experiment with colour interaction. Curiosity with colour helps to continue to question and avoid becoming formulaic. Colour can set a mood and describe a moment.
Deep Red Peonies
IS THAT WHY YOU WORK IN PASTEL?
Yes! I love the idea of working with pure colour, there is something primitive about having a block of pigment in your hand and applying it directly onto the work surface. I like the immediacy and the physicality of working with pastel.
WHEN YOU COVER A COLOUR THAT DOESN’T WORK, ARE YOU STILL AWARE OF IT UNDERNEATH?
Under-painted colours coming through are an important piece for building areas of texture. I like the way that the layers of colour peep through to create depth. From time to time, I’ll work over an area and a ghost pattern comes through which is always exciting.
YOU ARE VERY KEEN TO CHANGE PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION OF PASTEL AND WHY?
I am interested in re-defining soft pastel as a modern medium. There is a tendency to use pastel in a more traditional context, but the pastels we have available today are so versatile, it is exciting to think about exploring them in a more contemporary way and to re-setting our perceptions of how this wonderful medium can be applied.
It is always good to see artists using pastel in a more contemporary way and pushing boundaries. Today, here in the gallery, I was demonstrating monotype printing with pastel - literally drawing with pastel onto a silk screen and then printing, pulling the pastel marks down on the paper. The response was good and I hope encourages artists to explore other ways of working with pastel.
YOU MENTION CURIOSITY A LOT, IS THAT WHAT YOU FOLLOW WHEN YOU ARE WORKING?
Sometimes I’ll have a clear idea of a starting point and sometimes a mistake will happen and I’ll decide to follow that. It is important to me to remain curious and open and experiencing different cultures has helped with this. Occasionally I can get distracted, but I think being curious and inquiring is a crucial part of the creative process.
In Amongst It All
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
I’m working towards a solo show at the SEFA Gallery in New York in September and another solo show at the Stour Gallery here in the UK in November. The work for both of these shows are as a result of inspirations from living in Japan and interestingly, seems to be falling into two categories of traditional representation and abstract.
IF YOU WERE TO SUM UP YOUR ARTWORK IN ONE SENTENCE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I am a colourist and a chronicler and the artwork is about careful observation of the ordinary.
If you would like to find out more about Angela visit her website: www.angelaacourt.com
Poetry for Mending