Artist at work: Marysa Dowling

In response to our Artists at Work exhibition in the Drawings Gallery we wanted to shed some light on the artists among our colleagues at The Courtauld. Here we have Marysa Dowling a freelance educator in our Public Programmes team discussing her practices.

Conceal Mexico 2017 #1

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

My photographic practice is participatory and rooted within portraiture. Many of my projects have an international focus as I work across several communities and cultures simultaneously to explore universal, human and democratic themes of communication, interaction and connection to place. Participation and collaborative possibilities are vital to my process.  Works are an exploration and observation of how people co-exist, relate to and interact with each other and the various environments they inhabit. I use photography as a tool to articulate experiences about our lives, how we live them and how we choose to represent ourselves. Working in both gallery and non-gallery spaces I aim to create thoughtful and playful photographic works, that come into being through social interaction. Recent projects have centred on journeys, the use of objects and human bodies as a form of performance through photography. Currently I am developing projects in the UK and Mexico firstly considering women’s roles in activism and change making, secondly how we use our hands to communicate, make and learn and using photography as a form of exchange. I am also working on my first book of a 10-year portraiture project with Smith Design.

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

My working environment varies hugely from job to job depending on the kind of project or where I am working. I can be based in a museum, gallery, school, studio, hospital, offices or out on location in the UK or other countries. An average week will involve working with people in a many different settings, as well as some time spent in my office or studio plus going to meetings. Currently I am an Artist in residence with GOSH Arts at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a unique and constantly changing environment to work in. This can involve working on a one to one basis with patients on wards or at bedsides or with larger groups in outpatients. You can see my studio in the photographs, but you will find out more about where I work from the locations and settings in my portraits. I love that things are constantly changing in my work. I find it stimulating to constantly meet new people to share ideas and make art with. As well as short term projects I develop ongoing projects to build long term relationships with individuals, communities and organisations.

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

The environments I work in very much influence my art. Place, space and locations are often part of how and why I make my work and connect to the themes of each project. The location can dictate how the portrait and images will or can be made. Location often becomes relevant to part of the narrative I’m telling with my subject, both in my personal, participatory and education work.

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

The concept and theme of the project will very much dictate the camera or cameras along with the methodology I use. My main tool is a Mamyia RZ 67 medium format analogue camera although I use various others such as a Canon DSLR 35mm digital, a wooden pinhole camera that takes medium format film, apps on a phone, scanners and paper-based image resources. When working on education projects having a little 6×4” printer with me encourages instant discussion and editing processes.

How do you deal with creative block? 

I start by going back to previous projects and begin to look again both at ideas, techniques and context. Trying to look afresh gives me to opportunity to ask myself what I get from the images now, what narratives, meaning and context is showing itself after some time away from the work. When I look again I start to see how themes and ideas are connecting. This usually gives me a way in to develop new ideas. I also play with laying out images to make connection and new narratives to spark ideas, simultaneously looking through my book collection and reading texts about my current interest. Sometimes getting out a camera I haven’t used for a while to experiment with techniques helps too.

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Arts Exchange

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Arts Exchange

Conceal Mexico #3 2017

 

Conceal Mexico 2015 #8

Conceal Mexico #9 2017

Discover more of Marysa’s work:

www.marysadowling.co.uk

Twitter:  @marysadowling

Instagram:  @marysadowling

 

 

Courtauld Artists At Work: Vicky Falconer

Our Artists at Work exhibition 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