Q: When did you discover your talent for drawing and painting?
A: My parents have always been interested in art so there where art books around the house, mostly impressionism, post impressionism, and they used to take me and my brother up to London for the Royal Academy Summer exhibition, left quite an impact on a child's mind, Just seeing art makes you want to create it, if you have an urge or a skill/talent for it. I don’t think you discover you have a talent for art ( well, some i know discover they have later in life, but for most i think the talent just develops from scribbles you make as a kid, then coloring books, then painting by numbers or something like that, stuff you parents like you to do on rainy days to stop you tearing around the house. Yeah, just kind of develops over time.
Q: Your father’s a painter as well?
A: Yeah, amateur, hobbyist, portraiture mostly.
Q You were taken to art exhibitions at a young age then?
A: Yeah, but, I never saw anything much outside of portraiture and impressionism then. I remember seeing Vincent’s bedroom painting, that left a pretty big impression.
When I was a kid I really liked Anthony Green, his work was kind of comic book caricature in a way but also impressionism and his paintings where pretty big, rarely square, and where like a set of scenes from a story all on one canvas. So that’s my earliest memory of seeing art and going to exhibitions.
Q: So your earliest memories of creating art are?
A: Drawing Battlestar Galactica spaceships for my classmates, probably around the age of 9. I also remember making a painting of a tea clipper, my father gave me my first oil painting lesson when I made that painting.; probably around the age of 9 or 10.
Q: And later, as you grew older and skills developed?
A: Err, I used to copy stuff out of my brother’s 2000 A.D. comic. I was really into music from a young age so as i got into my teenage years i made my own posters for whatever was my favorite band at the time. I would also use my mum’s mail order catalog or pictures from fashion ads from the Sunday supplements to copy. Occasionally I would dabble in bad impressionism.
Q: What art education have you had other than your father showing you how to use oil paints?
A: Well, I think most gallerists and art professionals would say i am self taught, but I don’t think it's as simple as that.
To make good art you need to go look at good art, study it, try and understand how its made. You see films or TV documentaries about art and how it is made and you try stuff based on what you saw, I think that is even more the case now with the advent of the internet and youtube and artists posting videos of their working practice. I think you have to investigate, watch other artists working and try stuff based on what you see, so that’s kind of a learning; lessons, right?
I was also an art school gatecrasher.
Q: How do you gatecrash art school?
A: Same way you gatecrash a wedding, look like you are supposed to be there and dress the part. I always looked like an art student, even into my early 30’s . The University of the Creative Arts (Kent) has a campus in my hometown so I used to just walk in, I also helped a ceramicist from Singapore, Xin Xiaochang, while she was studying there around 2006/7. It was helping out Xiaochang that really got me thinking about doing a lot more than hobby art.
So I don’t really consider myself ‘self-taught’, I would say, ‘not academically trained’. I had an unofficial art education.
Q: You said you copied things out of comic books, mail order catalogs, made posters, so how has your work developed, and what inspirations led to abstraction?
A: There would be a long answer to that question, I will answer it in my next blog.
Q: You mentioned China in your first blog post, how did you end up there?
A: I had wanted to visit China since I was a teenager, I had a friend who’s family originated from Hong Kong, and when i was growing up the Water Margin and Monkey where on the T.V. plus watching 1970’s Kung Fu flicks. So I suppose I kind of always felt a connection to the country in a way. Then my brother moved there for work in 2004 I think it was. I made my first visit in 2006.
Maybe more about that in a future blog as well.
Q You said in your first blog post that you painted western art and did not want to assimilate Chinese art into your own work, but surely there is some kind of influence or affect from living in China, being in that culture and seeing Chinese art?
A: Yeah, of course, maybe, we can discuss that in more detail later.