Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Artist of the Week - RHODA K BAKER

Rhoda K. Baker


I describe my work as 'Paperscapes'. I create 2 dimensional low relief paper structures out of thick textured paper; often in multiple layers based on repeated motifs and complex patterns. I have a fascination with repetition, hidden messages, codes, ciphers and visual trickery.
I am enthralled by the way unexpected patterns reveal themselves depending on the arrangement of shapes and the prevailing light conditions. Shadows create new visual tricks and alternative views....endless possibilities constantly emerge demanding exploration.
Once I have decided what to do, I become absolutely consumed by the processes of measuring, cutting, gluing, perforating, embossing, scoring and piercing paper. The simplicity of my raw materials belies the intricate and sophisticated results that are achievable. The versatility of the medium and its endless exciting possibilities never cease to thrill and entice me!

My work is predominantly white on white, but more recently colour is creeping in, it is interesting how colour changes the whole way a piece is perceived, much of the subtly is lost but new things emerge.

There is a distinct link in all this to my textile education particularly weaving, which I did at the Royal College of Art in London, I left in 1980.

I am constantly experimenting with other media, though the problem I've got is there is never enough time to explore all ideas, they come too thick and fast to keep up with! Should probably spend less time on the answer to the next question!

Money spent on socialising is never wasted?
Because I really like meeting people and drinking. Having lived and worked rurally in the back of beyond for sometime, I have a lot of catching up to do! Also being an artist can be a very isolating business and I can easily not see anyone for days on end when I am totally immersed in my work. (bit like living rurally come to think of it!)

One favourite living artist?
I adore Peter Blake. He was one of the first artists I encountered when I saw his 'Toy Shop' in the Tate in London. Love his eclecticism, his interest in ordinary everyday objects, pop culture, paper ephemera and lettering. He is obsessed with collecting things and I really hope his personal collections of objects and ephemera can be made available to view by us mere mortals. Saved for the nation perhaps... fantastic job cataloguing it all!

One favourite historical artist?
I am very interested in Ben Nicholson. I particularly like his white on white carved reliefs that he created in the 1930's. They revel in the subtle play of light and shadow, using simple yet intricate forms. The clever balance of shapes, negative and positive, and total lack of colour entice me in.

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
My dad recognising my creative urges gave me a truly brilliant book when I was 12 years old, about making all sorts of things with paper; mobiles, Matisse like papercuts, theatrical outfits, paper engineering,sculptural objects and much more. It is an American resource book for teachers, complex and clever (not like most craft type books published now.) It went a bit over my head at the time, but started my life long fascination with the versatility of paper. It has been invaluable ever since and is always a source of inspiration .

What was the last art/craft/design thing you purchased?
Not sure if this qualifies but I got a couple of huge fab polish film posters produced in 2006, during Brighton Festival. Unfortunately later spotted then on internet for about half the price! Anyway great quirky strong graphics by Bogna Otto-Wegrzyn.

Last best read?
James Boswell's London Journal 1762-1763. Flowery language sometimes but very personal and engaging.. He talks about picking up prostitutes, getting the clap and the unpleasant cure, and admiring the expanse of fields on the south side of the Thames! My copy has a marvellous map of London with the places he mentions marked on it, some still very familiar. Not so the 'cockpit' near Downing Street!

What do you have on your pinboard?
A really whopping great wish list of tools and materials to experiment with, and some info about artists studios to let which the council has just developed on Brighton seafront.

Where and what is your studio?
I work in the converted loft of my Victorian terrace house in Brighton. Its a truly brilliant space and the first time in my life I have had a proper dedicated studio where I have space to leave work in progress around. Its very hot in the summer though, bit worried about all my paints and glue drying up!
I have been addicted to BBC radio 4 since I was about 16, now I fit their demographic perfectly! I am a recent convert to 'La Fip' a French channel; really eclectic mix of sounds and very danceable if you're in late on a Saturday night!

Surprising activity?
I am totally addicted to rooting around charity shops, flea markets, boot fairs and second hand book shops.. Love vintage clothes and Victorian underwear! Do a lot of retail therapy on the cheap.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?

Most underrated artist/maker?
Billy Childish. Hugely productive and creative individual, musician, painter,etc. etc. I think he is underrated because he can't be easily compartmentalised... he simply does too much in multiple fields.
A real original character with diverse interests and skills who seems to do exactly what he wants to, and doesn't give two hoots about the 'market place' and the art establishment.... He dresses rather well too, looks like a 1940's chap!

Most overrated artist/maker?
Funny wouldn't have answered this but having just been to the Royal Academy Summer Show and seen her curated room I thought I would. - TRACY EMIN - Just don't like her work...or her taste.....not very analytical I know! ( I'm not trying to suck up to B.C. honest)

If you could exhibit in any gallery which would it be?
Well, what a question! I suppose Tate Modern wouldn't be bad. But failing that
I do really like Castor and Pollux on Brighton seafront, but I don't think my work is colourful enough for them! Its a fantastically accessible gallery/shop, with a graphics/printmaking bent.

1 comment:

Helegant said...

Wow. What lovely work. I can also see the roots of this work in an homage to Bridget Riley in Barnet. Memories...
Revd Helen Gardner, Berkhamsted