Monday, 14 September 2009

Artist of the Week - Barbara Burns

One favourite living artist?
Ian McKeever. I have never been disappointed with any of his exhibitions I've been to. When I was at college I was lucky enough to have a tutorial with him. He made me look at things in a totally different way.

One favourite historical artist?
This changes depending on the work I'm looking at. I would say Patrick Heron, though not very historical given that he died only a few years ago. I first came across his work in the 1970s and loved it. He was a great defender of British Abstract Art in the 1950s. Lately I've been looking at Sandra Blow's work - amazing stuff!

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
For as long as I can remember I was always drawing and painting. I remember at school when I was about 6 or 7 being asked by a visiting priest what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said 'An artist'. My nun teacher looked at me and told me not to be so silly, then looked at the priest and told him I wanted to be a nun, of course!

What place in the world has inspired you?
I guess that has to be the coastal areas of Ireland, particularly the West coast, the Aran Islands and Cape Clear Island. The last bits of land jutting out into the Atlantic, the blackness of the sea, and the jagged rocks and cliffs are awesome.

Do you work on your own or in collaboration?
I have only ever worked on my own.

At 15 who influenced your style?
My art teacher who wanted me to pass my Art 'O' Level. At 16 I went to art college and it was David Hockney and Chloe Cheese - I used to copy their sketchy, coloured drawings.

How much do you bend your 'vision' to suit the marketplace - if at all?
I don't think I do!

Who would you say buys your work?
It tends to be couples looking for a painting for their home. I have quite a few buyers who have come back and bought more work.

Where and what is your studio?
My studio is a brick built garage with a pitched roof at the bottom of the garden. We converted it by adding Velux windows and insulating it. The walls and floor are white, and it's a very quiet place. At first I found working there on my own very isolating - I shared studios or worked in a studio with other artists around. I've been working there for two years now and find it less lonely. Now I value my time there immensely.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
I usually potter down to the studio around 11 and work through to 4. Sometimes I do a bit of gardening on the way back, weather permitting. My husband and I moved to Eastbourne 2 years ago. I really miss Brighton having lived there for 20 years, but I get my Brighton fix one day a week when I go in to look after my grandson, which I love doing. Eastbourne is very quiet by comparison but I've started to enjoy it now, especially since the Towner Gallery opened. Yes, it's a good work/life balance.

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

Would you rather be doing something else?
I can't do anything else!

Are there other fields that you'd like to apply some facet of your work into?
In the past I have done a lot of silk screen printing and I would love to have the time to explore it further.

If you could exhibit in one gallery which would it be?
The New Millennium Gallery in St. Ives.

Most overrated artist/maker?
Damien Hirst. I just don't get his work. I find some of it crude and shallow. I hated his diamond skull - it's like a footballer's wife's fantasy wig stand!

Where do the majority of your inspiration/ideas come from?
Long walks in coastal areas.

Where did you train? Favourite/least favourite aspect of training?
I went to vocational college in Buckinghamshire in the 1970s from the age of 16 to 19 and did a Foundation Year and two years in Fine Art. I was very young and had little idea, but it was a good grounding as we were encouraged to do a lot of life drawing and still life painting. In the 1990s I went to Brighton University to do a degree in Fine Art and Painting. The learning curve was vast and we were continually encouraged to question and push ideas. I loved it, though sometimes I wanted to give up, especially after a bad tutorial.

Please list any exhibitions...
Affordable Art Fair, London.
Brighton Festival, Jointure Studios, Ditchling.
Artwave, Lewes.

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