1.Why do/ did you work within the arts?
I never considered anything else. I had my mind made up at the age of fifteen that I would do something within the art world, though as a working class child from a mining village in Durham in the 1960’s my understanding of the Art world was probably based on admiration for my art teacher and the fact that he thought I had some talent. I always loved teaching and firmly believed that students could be nurtured if they opened their minds. The challenge was to open students’ minds so that they could start to really see. They would then be smitten with the same creative bug and it would be with them for life.
2.Why do you produce art/ design work ?
I guess it’s the same with all artists, it’s that need to create. I am always questioning why I want to make things. I know that there’s always the unknown outcome and proving to myself that I can do it this time. I find it difficult to work to a plan as my ideas change at every stage and my work evolves throughout a piece until often the original starting point no longer exists. In fact I know that I rely on this and in this way can be relaxed in the knowledge that I will make changes.
3. Is there a need for your practice?
My practice is purely personal. It is a series of challenges that I set myself. There is no external motivation, ie. Exhibitions, commissions, etc.
I have not analysed this before but I don’t like exhibiting my work.
I don’t really like exhibition openings where I am involved.
I find my work too personal and perhaps criticism is too painful for me.
When I was young I felt very different and I even exhibited some sculpture in the ICA when I was a student
4.What do you think about contemporary art and design?
I love good contemporary art & design. My opinion is that there’s a great deal of crap out there but also some amazing work that will be cherished and take it’s place with the other great work of art & design history. Contemporary art is all embracing. New and old technologies explore each other’s influences and in my opinion a good contemporary art exhibition is the most blissful experience, hopefully challenging, stimulating and a refreshing and new way of seeing a perhaps familiar thing. I love that change in perception. On the other hand, I am also pleased at the resurgence of painting in this and the preceding decade. The subject matter and approach has changed as the practitioners are young and pull from their contemporary world known for it’s dramatic and unquestionable advances in technology, and in most cases make use of these advances within their work though these young painters are also aware of paintings tradition and history often making reference to it. Drawing has also progressed in radical new directions though these skills are now often no longer essential to make contemporary art. I have no problem with this.
5. What do you think design is/ should be?
I think design is different from art in that it is planned, often fulfills a function, will respond to a set of problems imposed by varying circumstances that may be context, time, cost and people etc.
6. What constitutes good design in your opinion?
Good design should be informed by knowledge of aesthetics, technologies, and materials and whether the designer has (using the above mentioned criteria) responded to the designs unique set of problems in an informed and practical way.
7. What is your long term goal in the arts?
Produce work that will astound and satisfy me.
8. Is there any period within the history of the arts that you feel an affinity towards? Why/ why not?
Though I genuinely love Contemporary Art and am fascinated to see new exhibitions as they emerge, I find myself looking back through the ages as though noticing for the first time the wonders of the creative minds that have shaped our world.
I feel that I never paid these works their due respect and dismissed them to get to more contemporary ideas based art.
I am now taking time to discover the beauty of art and design through the ages,
in fact all types of creativity, all genres. I am trying to get into the mindsets of the people who created them and of the ideas and demands that brought them to fruition. This includes wonderful painting.
As I mentioned before, contemporary painting is amazing.
Check out the new painters in the book ‘Vitamin P2, New Perspectives on Painting’
9. How ideally would you envisage the world of the arts? Would you change anything?
Not a thing.
How can we?
Why should we?
Surely any kind of censorship stifles creativity
However I do feel that the world of art and design is being marginalized by poor practitioners, trendy décor is being confused with art and design (ie; changing room mentality) and that an artist or designer (with some obvious exceptions) must go through an art education to nurture aesthetic thinking and understanding, but what right have we to change it, surely good art & design will always shine out.
10. Do you think the skill levels of arts practitioners are in decline? If so do you have any recommended answers to this problem, or indeed you may not view it as a problem.
The very definition of skill has changed. Yes, old skills have declined, some are now redundant and this rankles those of us who cherish those skills but new skills have replaced them. Huge technological advances have made great demands on our minds and bodies and vast leaps have taken place in the evolvement of skills.
I remember an exhibition at the Ferens with Shirley Craven who made fabric designs during the 1960’s. They were superb hand cut or drawn onto the screen with great skill and vision. This is now done in seconds with computer technology. I am sure Shirley would have created the most amazing designs using the new technology in fact it would have been the most wonderful thing for her practice.
I am very concerned about people of my age who say that things were so much better in my day. Things move on. Do they know the skills of the medieval craftsmen?
11. How do you define beauty? Does it have a counterpart?
Without it’s counterpart there would be no sense of beauty. Without sour there would be no sweet. Without sad there would be no happiness.
My idea of beauty is most often others idea of ugliness
12. If we lived in a utopian state of existence of the highest spiritual practice in total harmony with nature, how do you suppose art and design might transform to reflect this?
I feel a world of utopian existence would not interest me in making art.
My opinion is that there needs to be contrasts in the way we behave and think to make us question and interpret these contradictions to create from our own being.
Nature was here prior to man. Everything else is created by man in response to his environment which is infinitely diverse and forever changing.
13. When was the last time you questioned nature?
This morning as in every morning.
14. Where does art begin in your opinion?
When we are born and we begin to form our understanding of the world. This will later inform our creativity.
15. Where does art end?
When the world ends.