Sunday, 29 July 2012

Artist of the Week - Geoff Hands

Geoff Hands produces paintings, drawings and monotypes made from studies of the coastlines of Sussex and Cornwall.

Where did you train? What did training teach you and what do you wish it had taught you?
My training as a painter essentially started on the Foundation course at Shrewsbury School of Art where I had a brilliant fine art lecturer, Tony Vetisse, who taught me the discipline to plan and prepare well for painting. On my degree course at West Surrey College of Art & Design (Farnham) we were encouraged to work with integrity and passion.

Probably all that was missing was an awareness of what we now call ‘professional practice’. This is an integral part of the Fine Art degree at Northbrook College where I teach. The students are quite amused that I did not know what a ‘CV’ was until the end of my own degree course!

Is being an artist your only job, or do you have other employment?
As I mentioned above, I teach fine art at Northbrook College although most of my teaching career has been involved with the Foundation Studies courses in Horsham (now closed) and Worthing.

One favourite living artist?
I have many favourite artists. At the moment I have been looking again at Gary Wragg’s work. He is an intuitive abstract painter who works with great integrity and is not influenced by fashion.

One favourite historical artist?
Again, like the previous question, there are so many. I am tempted to say Turner or Matisse but I am thinking about Rembrandt’s portraits as I make my current work. His paint surface and ‘touch’ is incredible. The greatest painters stand out of their historical time and stay relevant decades and centuries later.

What is the most interesting / fun job you have had?
Well, working on an ice cream van after school was a great fun! But I have great memories of working as a road sweeper in Brighton for 18 months in the early 1980s. The people I worked with were wonderful. All, in their own way, were strong and interesting characters that could survive the indignity of low pay and the public misconception that it was a lousy way to earn a living.

If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
I don’t think I could collaborate with my painting practice so I would have to go for my ultimate fantasy of jamming with Neil Young! He is an incredible guitarist – unfortunately I cannot play any instruments so it’s unlikely to happen!

At age 16 who most influenced your style?
My art teacher at school, Martyn Lewis. He taught painting and drawing by example. It would be great to meet him again one day.

Last book / film that blew your mind?
‘The Language of Landscape’ by Anne Whiston Spirn. It’s an academic book but she discuses the formation and development of human language and thought from our ancestor’s experience of the natural world through to our experiences today. Every landscape artist should read it. It’s beautifully written too.

 What music are you currently listening to?
In the studio: Steve Reich, Max Richter, Morton Feldman, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Ralph Towner – plus Nick Cave, Bob Dylan and Neil Young in the car. That’s all men isn’t it! I shall have to listen to Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith to get some balance.

 How many hours do you waste on the internet each day?
My wife, Pam, would say most Saturday afternoons when I listen to the Shrewsbury Town FC commentary on the internet radio! But none at the moment as the football season has ended.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
I love Brighton too much to move away. Sometimes I imagine living in France or Italy for some good weather.

Where and what is your studio?
At the moment my studio is in my house but I am looking for an extra studio where I can use oil paint even more.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
t’s all one experience to me.

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

What would your dream commission be?
I’m not really a fan of commissions. I’ve had good ones and bad ones. I prefer to do what I want.

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world, which would it be?
The Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, London.

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