Kings London Art Teacher shares her experience on participating in recent Art Exhibitions
I am with Angele who is one of our Art teachers at Kings London. So, Angele, I heard that you’ve recently been to two exhibitions that you think our students might be interested in.
Can you tell me a bit about each exhibition and what they might have to offer our students studying art or who might want some cultural enrichment?
Sure, so these two exhibitions are ones that I’ve participated in. I’m part of two different art groups, one of them is called the South London Women Artists, and as the name suggests, it’s women artists based in South London, and the other group is called the SE20 Art Group, and that’s a mixed group of artists within the SE20 (Penge, South East London) area and its’ surroundings.
The first one was focussing on self-portraits and the exhibition was actually really interesting because it wasn’t just a picture of each person; each person had their own interpretation, some were abstract, some were conceptual, and it just was a really nice broad title, so it generated a lot of really interesting interpretations of a self-portrait. There were loads of different interpretations, using mixed-media, using photography, collage, digital, photo-shopped montages, paintings. There was even some poetry, so it came in all forms.
So the second exhibition I took part in, within the space of a week, is at a new gallery which has just opened in Penge (a 20 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride from Kings London) called Tension Fine Art. The owner of the gallery is really interesting. He is an MA student from Central St. Martins and he brings in all these interesting artists from Central St. Martins, most of them, and they do installations, sculptures, digital photography, animation, everything. We are the first painters that have gone in, because I’m a sculptor and a painter, so we’ve put painting work in, and that’s interesting because four out of the big group have been picked to exhibit together. There are four very different styles. One of them uses iPad art, another uses silicone and bitumen, so his work is all black and white and quite a rubbery texture, with branches and twigs, so even in front of a painting he puts a sort of sculpture, which is really nice. Then, I did a surreal painting on wood, a triptych, three large paintings, and then the other lady who is part of the group did illustration and painted as well. What is interesting about that is again, the variety of work, and how it works well together. Right down to the way it was displayed, because we didn’t divide the exhibition into four sections with each section dedicated to each artist, rather they are all mixed up, so there is a really nice mixture of complementary works sitting next to each other.
So, how did you become involved in these different groups and would you say that they are important to you for your development, not just as an art teacher but also as a working artist?
Yes, I think that is a really good step forward. I found out about the groups, one through word of mouth and also by going online, finding out about local art groups in your area. I think it’s a really good platform for you to use to branch out further. The exhibition, usually there are two or three in the steering group of the group, and they are the ones that find out about venues, what’s on and what exhibitions we can get to and they are like our channel into the art world. So then we submit our work and what gets picked goes on to the next stage in the exhibition. So that’s a really good platform to work with. Also, having, creating more contacts, such as recently, someone asked me to illustrate a book. I read the book and realised that it wasn’t really my style. Luckily, I know another illustrator in the group so I forwarded it to her, so it’s really nice that you have contacts within the group and it’s nice to have that support. Sometimes as a working artist you are doing a project and you get a bit stuck, and you think “I don’t know if I should develop it like this or like that”. It is similar to what I see in my students, it happens to us too, the professionals, because we’re all human and this is how projects evolve. So sometimes I’ll send a few images out to the other artists and ask what do you think, I’m developing this idea, I’m thinking of this colour or scale, and everyone gives you their feedback and you work from that. You reject what you think might not be relevant, but you always take on board all the other stuff, or even use it for future ideas, so it’s a really nice sounding board as well.
So you mentioned illustrating and you also mentioned painting, could you tell me more about your work as an artist? What different media do you use, what are the areas that you are interested in?
By definition, I consider myself to be more of a sculptor. But, sadly, when you move away from college you move away from all the wonderful equipment and workshops that you have access to there, so you do end up, unless you have access to another workshop, you do end up downscaling. What I do like, what I still love doing in sculpture is each idea, in sculpture you need to try it out in different forms and different media so I use everything, clay, plaster, metal, wood, anything that becomes available, and it depends on the project what you will use. Ideally, I would do more metalwork, but you need access to a forge, or a blacksmith. I have access to one but it’s where he works so it’s not easy, but you try to do what you can. Textiles and fabrics are really easily available so that’s a nice medium to work with as well, it all depends on what the project is.
So, with sculpture, when you have an idea, you have to try it out on many different materials to find which one works. Because again, the material adds on another layer of symbolic messages, such as why is it in a soft fabric rather than a hard metal, as that means two different things. However, with painting it is actually a bit easier in terms of making and facilitating because you have your canvas and your wood and you have your oils or acrylics and off you go. But with that, I’ve noticed that my sculptural style comes in a lot and I love surrealism, that’s more my style. And I tend to draw, again, as in sculpture, you have different components informing the main piece, in my surrealist paintings I have different symbolic components and I put them together with different blocks of colour, flat forms, or translucent areas, so I’m creating different textures. I’ve started to develop this more recently. I’m trying to do series of one idea, which is more interesting, because when you have an idea, when exploring different styles and colours and textures, I think it becomes a really interesting project as a body of work, and even for exhibitions then that’s nice, you know, to exhibit as a body of work.
How do you think your work as an artist informs your work as a teacher?
They actually both run parallel, which is what I really like about it. In order to give the students the best possible outcomes I have to be very informed, very up-to-date with what is going on, equally for my own work. Sometimes when I’m doing my own work, the ideas and concepts I create, I like to feed into their work and sometimes their concepts I find so fascinating I think oh! One day when I’ve finished this or that and I’ve got time I think I’m going to develop that idea, because it’s something I’m working on with them, so I like that because it all feeds in!
Do you think the groups you work with are a good option for our students in developing their work?
Yes! They are definitely an option going forward if they become resident or once they finish studying.
So, the two exhibitions, where and when can we visit?
They are both running right up until the end of this month, HEO, Self Portrait is at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, Clapham Common North Side and the other one is 4Site and Everything In Between, Tension Fine Art Gallery, Maple Road, Penge, SE20.
Wonderful! Thank you so much for your time!