Q. How would you define your work in three words?
Political, autobiographical, painting
Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?
Predominantly oil paint, it seems to have endless possibilities and I find it fascinating to work with.
Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?
The society I live in, the media, politics. I usually want to make work when I feel very strongly about an issue but don’t have the words to express it, for me making a painting is easier. My work is often social commentary but nearly always from a personal viewpoint and relating to something I have experienced.
I’m inspired by a vast and eclectic mix of artists! To list a few… Bruegel, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl, the Impressionists, Manet, Marlene Dumas, Edvard Munch, Pussy Riot, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud. I’m interested in Victorian Social Realism. I find that I am naturally drawn to more fluid painting styles. Also Jenny Holzer, Bob and Roberta Smith, Jeremy Deller, Grayson Perry. For a long time I have been inspired by the spirit of the New York and London punk scene in the 1970’s. And of course I am always inspired by Twinkle Troughton and her artwork. Childhood friend and art partner in crime, we often collaborate on projects together.
When I list artists that I am inspired by I always feel disappointed that the list is made up of lots more men than women. In the past female artists have not been given the recognition that they deserve which is probably the reason why my own list isn’t balanced. This is something we really need to work towards changing, it’s 2015 and the art world is still dominated by men.
Q. Take us through your working process.
For the last few years I have been making paintings in response to the housing crisis in London. This year I have focused on a body of work involving estate agent signs which was created for Dismaland, Banksy’s Bemusement Park in Weston-Super-Mare.
For a long time I had been noticing the vast number of estate agents signs littering the streets in London, how they sprout up like weeds and stay for months and months despite properties being rented and sold so quickly. I had also been collecting people’s stories, real issues that friends and acquaintances are experiencing as a result of the rapid increase in the cost of rent across the capital. I had been looking for a way to communicate these genuine stories in a visual way, so I decided to combine the two things and started to create my own versions of the signs. Replacing the sales text and subverting the branding to describe the real experiences that people had shared with me.
Each design is screen printed in 2-3 colours directly onto an existing estate agent sign (I found plenty of these out on the streets, lying in bushes or by bins!). I did all of the screen printing with very helpful guidance from expert printer Mark Perronet who runs Atom Gallery in Finsbury Park. Following this I painted over the screen printing in acrylic, making each sign unique. I felt it was necessary to give the signs a hand painted, individual and more guerrilla aesthetic. I used all sorts of simple motifs and references: tears, hearts, child like drawings, I also included elements I have used in my bedsit paintings, a bare lightbulb, toilet and old mattress and patterns inspired by William Morris. I like to include symbols of hope in my work, and for some of the signs I appropriated the ‘lightbulb eye’ from Picasso’s Guernica.
Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?
Apparently I loved to draw when I was really young, and would quite happily sit for hours filling up sketch books. My mum kept one drawing from when I was 3 years old which is memorable to me. I drew a big picture of me sticking my tongue out, and on the tongue I had drawn loads of circular swirls in felt tip, it turned out that at the time I had lots of mouth ulcers and doing the drawing was my way of communicating it. I don’t think it could really be described as a work of art! But I guess it was the first time I can remember using my artwork to communicate something.