Monday, 5 September 2011

Featured Artist - Delia Tournay-Godfrey

Delia Tournay-Godfrey is a British figurative painter. She paints in oils as she love their painterly qualities and the diverse colour range achieved with a limited palette.  

Where did you train? What did training teach you and what do you wish it had taught you?
I did my degree in Art & Design as a mature student at Suffolk College (UEA). It was a modular degree offering a diverse range of subjects to study; Applied Arts, Illustration, Graphic Design, Photography, a bit of everything really. I wanted to study Fine Art and Painting in particular, so I made a general nuisance of myself and along with three other like minded students we started a Painting module. Luckily we had the wonderful Ken Back as our tutor, he had trained at the Royal Academy Schools and knew everything there was to know about painting. His real skill was in helping his students find their own direction. Half way through my degree Ken left for personal reasons. I was completely lost but struggled on. In retrospect my degree was a fantastic experience, preparing me for the world of work as a professional artist. After I graduated I continued my study with Ken, visiting him once a fortnight for six years for an individual tutorial until he sadly died. We would talk for hours about painting and the history of art and he would look at and crit my work. So when I am asked where did I train I always say with Ken Back. I owe him a great debt.

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
When I was a small child as I was happiest whilst drawing, painting or making things. However I really knew when I was at home with two small daughters and a couple of part time jobs feeling I just had to go back to college and study Art!

One favourite living artist?
There are a few, but I recently discovered the figurative painter Saied Dai, his work embodies all that I respond to in a great painting; it's firmly rooted in drawing and beautifully composed with an underlying abstract design, his use of colour and tone is stunning and the paintings have the most interesting surface texture and application of paint. Very atmospheric and moody, yummy really!

One favourite historical artist?
There are lots, but I will say Piero Della Francesca, for much the same reasons as the last question. His work is a mixture of reality and abstraction, full of glowing colours and a spiritual light; they are calm, contemplative and monumental. Also because my interest in him has taken me to the most amazing places in northern Italy in search of his work.

Where do you get most of your inspiration from?
Firstly, out on location in the landscape as I like to work directly from the subject. I paint figures in the landscape and there are always people walking or sitting around that catch my eye. My paintings aren't invented, they are out there, It's just finding them and translating them into my painterly language. Aldeburgh is a favourite place to work in, it's a small seaside town on the Suffolk coast near where I live. The adjacent hamlet of Slaughden with the river on one side and the sea on the other, and a huge cathedral like sky that continuously changes in all weathers, is heaven for me.
Secondly, I am always visiting galleries and exhibitions, looking at paintings 'in the flesh', finding out what it is I respond to in other artists work.

What is the most interesting / fun job you have had?
My husband and I run a small framing business, we started off framing my own work and then found we were framing for lots of artist friends of ours. We then began to frame for a gallery in East Anglia. The gallery deals in international artists and we have framed work by Sandra Blow, Terry Frost, Henry Moore and John Piper etc. Another friend has five Alfred Wallis paintings which were to be exhibited in Japan. He wanted them simply framed, just as if they had been framed when Wallis' work had first started being collected and exhibited. We spent a lovely day doing the research for this job at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge where there is a major collection of Wallis' work.

Have you had any interesting work related collaborations?
Painting is such a solitary activity, so the best work related collaborations are always with the exhibiting part of being a painter. We artists do like to exhibit together, it's lots of hard work but always great fun. I am looking forward to Brighton Art Fair 2011 meeting the other artists and working together with them.

Last book / film that blew your mind?
The book Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, written in 1956, a novel about ordinary people in a failing marriage, struggling with being human; as relevant to our times now as when it was written. Not 'mind blowing' but beautifully and simply written, very real and moving, sometimes its what a writer (or painter) doesn't say or reveal that makes a work as powerful as it is.
An extraordinary film released in 2010 Never Let Me Go, directed by Mark Romenek and based on Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel of the same name. Eerie, beautiful and well acted, I thought about it for days and weeks afterward.

Who would you say buys your work?
All sorts of people, friends, collectors, often other painters. Interestingly a few of my collectors are architects, they just seem to get it. My work is in numerous galleries and keeps selling which is always a compliment. I don't know who is buying most of the time. The work is simplified, painterly, atmospheric, strong on composition, it's not really about anything in particular but can also be about anything, it's what the viewer brings to it, lots of people seem to respond to it which is nice.

Where and what is your studio?
A variety of studios! My own at the bottom of the garden; here I prepare surfaces, paint frames and larger work is produced from smaller paintings and drawings. I also have access to a studio in a lookout tower high up in the clouds overlooking Aldeburgh beach. It's a great vantage point for observing people relaxing on the beach and the sea wall or walking, sitting and standing beside the sea. I also paint in my car which is my travelling studio offering a variety of places to work whilst keeping me warm, dry and away from prying eyes!

Do you have a good work/life balance?
It's all centred around Art which I love so yes I do.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?
Totally absorbing, sorry that's two words!

If you could be doing anything else what would it be?
Studying for an MA in Art History.

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world which would it be?
I think in the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche housed in the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, Italy. It is the most beautiful small palace, perfectly proportioned, unadorned and simply furnished, and contains some amazing works of art including Piero Della Francesca's paintings The Madonna di Senigallia and The Flagellation of Christ. It would be nice to hang my work in one of the rooms near Piero's paintings and have that spiritual link to his time and work, and to feel that not much changes really, we painters are only trying to communicate to other human beings whichever type of painting we do.

1 comment:

jailhouse said...

A wonderful thoughtful and evocative piece! just like the paintings!!