Monday, 13 September 2010

Artist of the Week - Luella Martin

Luella Martin works and lives in Brighton. She paints urban and rural landscapes from Sussex, France and further afield. Luella will be showing her work at the Brighton Art Fair this week.

Where did you train? What did training teach you and what do you wish it had taught you?
I trained in London, where I grew up. First Hornsey, then Byam Shaw and my Post-graduate studies were at Goldsmiths College. I felt at the time that the more I learned, the less I really was sure I knew and that is probably still true. I should have liked more preparation for life after Art School.

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
I was in the Tate Gallery (there was only one in those days) with my mother - I was about 5 I think. I really loved the Mondrians.

One favourite living artist?
Peter Doig because he always surprises and delights me and because he is so generous about sharing his ideas and inspiration.

One favourite historical artist?
Pierre Bonnard - he draws me straight into his luminous world.

Where do you get most of your inspiration from?
I do love to travel and have done quite a few paintings of France, but I'm just always looking around wherever I am. Recently I've noticed that the sea is often in my work, not surprising because I live on the coast, but I have also got other connections. I've sailed across The Bay of Biscay & I've lived on board a 35 ft steel ketch in Australia. I had a tiny little triangular cabin at the 'pointy end' which was my studio and had to work very small on paper to get over storage problems.
Recently I've had quite a long spell in Brighton and have been concentrating mainly on round where I live - Brighton, the Sussex downs & coastline, piers, gardens and the local allotments.

What is the most interesting / fun job you have had.
I loved lecturing part-time in London. I worked mostly with interior design students helping them design and print fabrics - it was hard work but very rewarding and we had a lot of fun printing the lengths of fabric on a long padded table.

Do you work mostly on your own? Have you had any interesting work related collaborations?
I paint on my own in my studio at Phoenix Brighton. It can be quite isolating so I do make an effort to get together with other painters regularly for a chat or to go to see exhibitions in London. There are around 100 artists who work in the building, so there's usually someone around. I also do quite a bit of printmaking and love that because it is very sociable.

At age 18 who most influenced your style?
At age 18 I was bowled over by Abstract Expressionism, Jack Kerouac and all things American.

How much do you bend your 'vision' to suit the marketplace - if at all?
Not at all really, I think it would be a disaster if I tried, I just make what I want to make.

Who would you say buys your work?
The ones I've met have all been lovely, but I haven't noticed any particular type.

Where and what is your studio?
I have a beautiful studio at Phoenix Brighton - it is a large L- shaped room at the front of the building and overlooks The Level. The light is great for most of the day and I very much enjoy working there. We also have a gallery downstairs and there is generally a very good 'buzz' in the building.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
Probably not quite as good as it should be yet. I tend to either be working or thinking about work most of the time, but that seems to go with being a painter for me. I can't just turn it on and off so sometimes I do miss out on other things. I do try and get as much exercise as I can and love to swim laps - I can work out all sorts of things while I'm doing my mile. I feel very lucky to live in beautiful Brighton with a very understanding husband, my cat and a studio I can walk to, so no complaints.

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

If you could be doing anything else what would it be?
I don't want to do anything else.

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world which would it be?
Tate Britain, where it all started.

In the last 12 months I have exhibited in mixed shows at:
Enid Lawson Gallery, London
Saffron Gallery, Battle
Greentree Gallery, Borde Hill
Open House - The Dog House, Hampstead Rd Brighton
Brighton Art Fair 2009 ( with Saffron Gallery)
The Affordable Art Fair, Battersea (with Saffron gallery)
Rye Art Fair 2010

I recently sold some paintings from my 'Allotment' series to Brighton & Sussex NHS Trust.

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