Courtauld Artists At Work: Vicky Falconer

Our Artists at Work exhibtion in the Drawings Gallery is in full swing. We thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Vicky Falconer, Assistant Librarian, serials and e-resources at The Courtauld discussing her practices.

My practice is mixed media but almost always involves a lens-based element to it, as well as a strong engagement with space and architecture – and in particular a longstanding interest in the relationship between interior and exterior.

Since leaving art school I have only ever had studios for brief periods. I’ve worked from home for the last eight years, with the exception of using facilities for specialist processes I can’t do at home. I co-opt parts of my living space to use for whatever I need. But my domestic environment has also become an essential part of the work itself. At the moment I am working on a series of photographic works which I started last year – Inhale/Exhale – made in my living room and back garden. The inspiration for these was some beautiful double exposure photographs by Constantin Brâncuși, as well as a text that I had been reading, Through Vegetal Being, by Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder. There were some ideas in this text that felt really vivid for me: the necessity of breath, which immersion in plant life facilitates, and the capacity for that immersion to dissolve the usual boundaries between interior and exterior.

I can’t imagine having a studio now. So many artists these days have practices which are don’t require it. Perhaps this accounts partly for what seems to be have been a resurgence of interest in the domestic within contemporary art? In terms of ‘creative block’, like most other artists I have a number of commitments outside of my practice. Lack of time for creative practice is both a hardship and blessing in this sense! I go and do something else and by the time I have the opportunity to turn my attentions to my work again, some kind of direction, clarity or purpose has returned. In terms of objects or tools that are special to me, I have a few things which I’ve collected which sometimes make their way into works. I use both analogue and digital techniques, but the Inhale/Exhale works are made on an old Pentax SLR camera – which was actually my 21st birthday gift! It is lovely to think that I am still using it. I am a very un-technical artist in some ways, though. Just as I co-opt rooms in my house to use for what I need, I co-opt materials or processes to make the images or works that I have in mind.  I often put images through a number of transformative processes – scanning, digital recapture, etc. – and it is likely that these current works will be worked on in the same way, with the means of their production very much informed by whichever space they will be presented in eventually.

 

Discover more of Vicky ‘s work:

www.vickyfalconer.co.uk

 

Artists at Work
The Drawings Gallery
Until 15 July 2018

Courtauld Artists At Work: Nadine Mahoney

With the opening of Artists at Work in our Drawings Gallery we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Nadine Mahoney, Artist Educator in our Public Programmes team discussing her practices.

 

Could you tell us about your practice – what media you work in, what subject matter you focus on, what inspires you?

My practice is very process driven. I love the stuff of paint, and made my own paints from oils to watercolour and acrylic, on a range of supports from aluminium to canvas and panel. I am interested in identity, perception and the human condition. Working between abstraction and figuration, the history of portraiture is a big source of inspiration from lockets, to old masters, death masks and instagram selfies.

Tell us about your working environment(s).

My studio is like a second home. I have a collection of pigments in various old jars, piles of drawings, rows of unfinished paintings. I work on many paintings at once, so tend to have works in progress on the floor, the walls and my table. It’s an organised chaos.

Do you work anywhere other than, or in addition to, a studio – and if so, where?

I need my studio. When I became a mother I hoped I could work on the kitchen table but I just couldn’t paint or draw that way. It made me realise just how sacred the studio is to my practice.

How does your working environment affect your art (if at all)?

Environment and routine are important. I am a creature of habit, so need to have a regular workspace. I am currently working in a studio in Brooklyn New York, and it took me at about 4 months to get the studio working properly.

Are there any particular tools or objects you feel particularly passionate about and/or are central to your work?

I make my own paint, from watercolours to oils. This process is central to my practice. It started of as a way to have high quality materials inexpensively but now I can’t imagine making the work I do without it. My collection of pigments in glass jars are essential. Making the paint in the mornings offers a type of meditation, it helps me switch into studio mode.

How do you deal with creative block?

My practice is anchored through an obsessive curiosity of materials, so I’ve never really had creative block; there is always something I want to experiment with. Also, I work on multiple paintings, so if I get stuck, I’ll just move onto another one. That doesn’t mean all paintings are a success!

Discover more of Nadine’s work:

www.nadinemahoney.com

Instagram: nadine_mahoney

Artists at Work
The Drawings Gallery
Until 15 July 2018

 

Courtauld Artists At Work: Grace A Williams

With the opening of Artists at Work in our Drawings Gallery we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Grace A Williams, Research Forum Digital Project Officer in our Research Forum discussing her practices.

Could you tell us about your practice – what media you work in, what subject matter you focus on, what inspires you?

I’m an interdisciplinary artist with a focus on photography and installation. I often work with archival and found material to explore feminist power dynamics in the history of magic, mythology and the occult. I have collaborated with some of the world’s leading specialist collections to uncover hidden or maligned female histories, including the psychic mediums photographically documented manifesting Ectoplasm in the T G Hamilton collection at The University of Manitoba, Canada and the legacy of Sally Ryan within the Jacob Epstein Archive at The New Art Gallery Walsall.

Tell us about your working environment(s). Do you work anywhere other than, or in addition to, a studio – and if so, where?

My working environment greatly varies depending upon the project. I had a studio in Birmingham before moving to London and now I work from temporary studios for larger projects. I often work on site-specific projects, so in the next few months my studio will be a preserved 1920s National Trust Property!

How does your working environment affect your art (if at all)?

I enjoy the flexibility of working in different environments but having a permanent studio is something that long term I would like to establish. My husband is an architect and together we’d like to have a space that can be functional for both our practices.

Are there any particular tools or objects you feel particularly passionate about and/or are central to your work?

I couldn’t live without my laptop, working with lens based and digital media means I’m constantly running Adobe suite. In total contrast to this I also collect early analogue technology from the history of photography and film. I have just purchased a number of traditional magic lantern projectors that will feature in my next solo show at The New Art Gallery Walsall in August. I’m fascinated by early approaches to creating spectral images and I’ve had a long term project that explores the Nipkow disc as the basis of television broadcasting.

 

How do you deal with creative block?

I tend to work on several projects at the same time which keeps me inspired and motivated. If I ever feel a little slumped, going to the cinema, walking and sleeping help – surprisingly I have solved several major project worries at night.

 

Discover more of Grace’s work:

Grace A Williams: Intermission
The New Art Gallery Walsall, 10 August — 11 November 2018

www.grace-a-williams.com

Twitter: @GraceANagle

Artists at Work
The Drawings Gallery
Until 15 July 2018

Courtauld Artists At Work: Chloe Le Tissier

With the opening of Artists at Work in our Drawings Gallery we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Chloe Le Tissier, Assistant Registrar / PA to Head of Gallery and The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2016 winner discussing her practices.

Could you tell us about your practice – what media you work in, what subject matter you focus on, what inspires you?

I work primarily with oil on canvas and watercolour, and sketching and drawing forms the basis of much of my work. I am inspired by my surroundings, particularly from travels, as well as everyday scenes, people, objects and beauty in nature.

Tell us about your working environment(s).

My studio is at Thames-side Studios in Woolwich where I have a lovely view of the river and north facing light which is perfect for painting.  I often work outside of my studio too, which largely came about through studying at the Royal Drawing School where courses were regularly taught out and about.  Many of the pictures in the show Artists at work are really familiar sights!

Do you work anywhere other than, or in addition to, a studio – and if so, where?

I often have a sketchbook to hand in case I can grab a few moments in the Gallery to sketch from works in the Courtauld collection. I spent a lot of time in the Goya: Witches and Old Women exhibition a couple of years ago and managed to make a sketch of each work from the album we were displaying. I love drawing and painting in other museums and galleries as well as outside; in woods, parks, on the beach and at the Zoo, anywhere that captures the imagination and is visually intriguing.  I undertake Artist Residencies too where you are completely removed from your usual location, which can be both enjoyable and challenging.

How does your working environment affect your art (if at all)?

Working outside can present certain practical limitations – the scale of the work, the medium, how much equipment you want to carry with you, whether it dries in time (especially in the British weather… I once watched a watercolour I was working on melt away as I tried to take shelter under a tree from heavy rain).

In my studio I am surrounded by my paintings, by books, materials and canvases. I have had the contents of my studio for years so it’s all very familiar and comfortable, but I also try to keep it clean and clear so that I can focus on painting.  I love having a view from my studio for the connection to the outside world.

Are there any particular tools or objects you feel particularly passionate about and/or are central to your work? 

Studying other artists and art history, seeing exhibitions and observational drawing are all really important to my practice, as is knowing when to stop on a painting, when it is finished.

How do you deal with creative block?  

Studying other artists and art history, seeing exhibitions and observational drawing! As well as sometimes just stepping back and thinking, trying not to panic and staying positive.

Thames-side Studios are having an Open Studios this weekend, 9-10 June 2018. All welcome! more info here 

 

Discover more of Chloe’s work:

www.chloeletissier.com

https://www.thames-sidestudios.co.uk/

Instagram: chloe_le_tissier

Artists at Work
The Drawings Gallery
Until 15 July 2018

Courtauld Artists At Work: Alexandra Blum

With the opening of Artists at Work in our Drawings Gallery we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Alexandra Blum, Gallery Tutor in our Public Programmes team discussing her practices.

Alexandra drawing close to the Thames Barrier, 2018. Photo credit: Charles Chambers

Could you tell us about your practice – what media you work in, what subject matter you focus on, what inspires you?

Drawing is central to my practice, and to my research into spatial perception and the visualization of the passage of time.   I’m especially interested in urban space, particularly areas undergoing change, where time itself seems to become visible in the fabric of the city.

I love the binary nature of drawing, the way a drawing can be constructed around the presence and absence of the drawing material, so that the negative space becomes very tangible.  A form defined purely by surrounding marks, rather than being drawn in its own right, seems to evoke not only its current location and presence, but also suggests an imprint of where an object existed in the past, or might exist in the future.

I’m also fascinated by the way negative space emphasizes the emergent quality of a drawing.  Sometimes it feels as if completed drawings are still under construction, so that each mark becomes a trace of the observation process which was on-going as I tried to understand the space surrounding me as I drew.

Tell us about your working environment(s).

After having a studio in Dalston, east London, for 10 years, I’ve recently moved my studio close to the Thames Barrier in Woolwich, south east London.  It’s within an industrial estate and, amongst the light industry at work there today, there are also several beautiful, but decaying, Siemens Brothers factories, dating from the 1860s when they produced telegraph cables.

A little further up river is Angerstein Wharf, where large amounts of aggregate are still unloaded from barges onto huge conveyor belts protruding into the river. As the surroundings are so industrial, being in my studio feels a bit like working within a factory of artists, which is a galvanising and inspiring atmosphere to work within.

It’s also important to me to have a studio surrounded by other artists.  The layout of my studio is semi-open plan, which enables chance encounters with other artist’s work, and the conversations we have about each other’s practice are invaluable.

Alexandra Blum’s studio interior, Woolwich

Do you work anywhere other than, or in addition to, a studio – and if so, where?

At the moment, I’m spending a lot of my time working from direct observation outside on the banks of the Thames, and I love having a studio very close to the environment I’m working from, so that I can go backwards and forwards between the two.

It’s an extraordinary area to draw within. Looking back towards the city from the Thames Barrier, the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and beyond feel precariously poised on the horizon, apparently oblivious to the power of the tides and continual efforts of the industry at work down river. Everything down there is in flux and I’d like each drawing I am currently making out on location to be a multi-layered trace of the many moments in time which unfold around me, revealing the constant interactions between the massive manmade and natural forces in the area.

How does your working environment affect your art (if at all)?

I’m always on the lookout for new spaces to explore through drawing, and, because I often work outside from direct observation, my working spaces can change dramatically from one project to another.

A previous working environment which also had a huge impact on my work was the vast Dalston Square construction site in Hackney, east London, where I was artist in residence.  I spent three years drawing Dalston as it was torn apart and rebuilt, drawing from the street, within the construction site and within one of the completed flats, a home on the 17th floor. Drawing within the building site was a very exhilarating experience, literally climbing amongst the tower blocks as they were being built, like having my own mountainside in Hackney!

So, my working environment is essential to my practice: the space I’m surrounded by literally becomes the focus of my drawings.

Alexandra Blum ‘6.4.11 – 17th floor, the Collins’ flat, Dalston Square, London’, charcoal on paper, 59 x 84 cm

Are there any particular tools or objects you feel particularly passionate about and/or are central to your work?

Paper, a graphite stick and a knife to keep sharpening it with.

How do you deal with creative block?

Wandering through the city on foot is one of my favourite ways to discover areas I’d like to draw.  When I get stuck with a piece of work, I usually go for a walk until I discover something which surprises me.  Then I’ll start a new drawing, coming back to the drawing I couldn’t find the answer to later.

Alexandra Blum, Thames with birds (dreaming of Roelandt Savery), graphite on paper, 21 x 29.7 cm, 2017

 

Alexandra Blum, Retreat, graphite on paper, 21 x 29.7 cm, 2017

Alexandra Blum, Shelter, graphite on paper, 21 x 29.7 cm, 2017

 

Alexandra Blum, Industrial Inundation, 21 x 29.7 cm, 2017

Discover more of Alexandra’s work: 

www.alexblum.co.uk

Twitter @alexandrablum4

Facebook /alexandra.blum.73

Artists at Work
The Drawings Gallery
Until 15 July 2018