Monday, 29 July 2013

Artist of the Week - Nigel Hills

Nigel Hills produces paintings on the theme of 'Beauty In Decay'. He lives on the South Coast and will be showing his work at the Brighton Art Fair in September.

What was your journey to becoming an artist?
I started off being entranced by the art of comic books which I would 'read' or rather follow the stories, as much as I could, before I could actually work out what those funny little hieroglyphic squiggles in the word balloons actually meant.

Is being an artist your only job?
I'm solely an artist - these days in fine art, though previously earning my corn from various forms of commercial art which eventually enabled me to indulge in painting purely whatever I want to these days.

One favourite living artist? Soooo many to chose from but I suppose the most relevant answer here would be Sam Lock whose textures and forms belong in top London galleries.

 One favourite historical artist?
Again, sooo many to choose from, but I suppose the most relevant answer on this occasion would be Ditchling-based Frank Brangwyn who was a master painter, draughtsman and printmaker whose work seemed to straddle tradition and modernity.

If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?I'm not sure I'd really be able to work with anyone else, but maybe as a decorator on some studio potter's vessels. Sussex has some fine potters and I particularly like the ethnic-inspired works of Sussex-based Chris Lewis and some of Carolyn Genders' works.

Who is your style icon?I think I'd probably be sued by anyone that I dared to suggest was responsible in any way for what constitutes my style.

Last book / film that blew your mind?
I only tend to read art books (probably a legacy from those early days looking through the comic books), but I once read a book of short stories titled 'Night Voices' by Robert Aickman because I was commissioned to illustrate its cover, and the story titled 'Stains' was very strange and powerful.

Last gig you went to?
That would be the magnificent Jon Anderson of Yes, solo in London. Still the voice of an angel at nearly 70, and his 'Olias Of Sunhillow' LP was the perfect production on every level.
How many hours do you waste on the internet each day?Quite a few, though mainly for enlightening myself and trying to source/discover new arty stuff rather than social networking matters which I rarely indulge in... I've a small circle of friends :)

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
 It would be in a dream-house that I've roughly designed for myself, based on sections of old boat ruins that I saw in Purton, then symmetrised, spliced and generally juggled about in Photoshop. Sadly I think it will always remain just a dream, but if I could build it (or rather have it built by someone who knows their way around a hammer and chisel) I can't think of anywhere better than Sussex.

Where and what is your studio?
My studio is just a very small table top. I like to try and paint with a controlled energy which requires little space and I find my work getting smaller and (hopefully) more intense. I often find that even the work of my artistic favourites can tend to be diluted somewhat as it grows in scale.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
It's better than it's ever been... I just hope I still have more time to enjoy it now I'm finally getting things sorted out.

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

What would your dream commission be?
Seeing my dream home actually built and heavily funded so I could get all the trimmings made by my favourite designers. I'd like an organic ceramic fireplace made specially by Peter Hayes, and glass panels made by the wonderful Sussex-based glassmaker Lara Aldridge. I'd like to design it all, though still giving the talented craftsmen plenty of room for their own considerable creative input into making a wonderful celebration of arts and crafts of the last hundred years or so... and after my death, have it taken over by the National Trust as a kind of more contemporary version of 'Kettles Yard'.

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world which would it be?The London Royal Academy...I'd love to have a painting of mine illustrated in their Summer Exhibition's catalogue, as I have many of their historical copies going back to the post Pre-Raphaelite black and white editions. I stopped getting the later ones though, as the art within them tends (with a few notable exceptions such as the wonderful Norman Ackroyd) to get weaker and weaker sadly.

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Saturday, 27 July 2013

Ten Years, Ten Artists: Daniel Ablitt

I firstly count myself very lucky to have exhibited at each of the Brighton Art Fairs. It's no coincidence that I also have been a full time practicing artist for the last ten years.
What immediately marked Brighton Art Fair out from the other artist exhibitor fairs, was the professionalism of the organizers and also the stands themselves. The artists work selected was given the right setting in which to show itself off at its best. Given this level of quality, it's no wonder that it continues to attract engaged, buying members of the public along with galleries who view it as an important event at which to 'pick up' artists. This happened to me on my very first Brighton Art Fair. The gallery saw my work, followed it up with a studio visit and I am still represented by them ten years on.

The confidence gained through selling my work directly and building relationships with members of the public and galleries has been invaluable. A result of this direct engagement with the public is a realisation that one person's taste in art is so varied and different from another and that confidence in your work has to come from yourself and your own practice. Most artists in reality would be much happier painting away in their studios and maybe showing their mum the odd painting!

Artistically it has been essential in my development. Having Brighton to work towards allows me to build a body of work that hangs well together and works as a whole. This is I believe an important part of growing as an artist, particularly at the beginning of my career, providing the focus to explore a theme to its fullest.

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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Artist of the Week - Emily Kirby

Emily Kirby produces bold, expressive figurative and wildlife paintings. She is based in London and will be showing her work at the Brighton Art Fair in September.

What was your journey to becoming an artist? I was born into a family of artists in Zambia. It was such an inspiring starting point in life. I spent a year travelling and painting in the horn of Africa in 2009 and have been painting full time ever since.

Is being an artist your only job?
Yes, I only paint.

One favourite living artist? Maggie Hambling. She's brave and passionate and the energy behind her work is incredible

One favourite historical artist?

Picasso. He embodied his work. It was raw and honest. He opened up the art world for people like me. 

If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
Maybe Marlene Dumas, I'd love to work on a portrait with her. 

Who is your style icon?
Nearly all Japanese women, they always look simple but incredibly beautiful

Last book / film that blew your mind?
A documentary film on war photographer Don McCullin 

Last gig you went to?
Cat Power

How many hours do you waste on the internet each day?

At least one, self promotion and research is really important but I often get side-tracked

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
Ibiza but on the other side of the island to the party scene. It's quite, stunning and extremely magical.

Where and what is your studio?
My studio is in a shared converted little warehouse in East London.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
Very good, life in London is very stimulating I do long hours in the studio but enjoy myself a lot when I finish a good days painting.

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

What would your dream commission be? To do a large scale painting for the National Gallery in Lusaka, Zambia's capital

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world which would it be?

Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg 


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Monday, 22 July 2013

Ten Years, Ten Artists: Angela Charles



Sussex born but currently Somerset based, I love to go ‘back home’ to show in Brighton Art Fair and am especially excited to be exhibiting new work in this their 10th Anniversary show.

I first exhibited in the inaugural Brighton Art Fair in 2003. There was a real buzz around Brighton, nothing like this had been attempted before. Brighton notoriously a city of artists yet not usually all captive in the one building for one weekend only. On the opening evening an unprecedented amount of people (including the great and the good of the city) queued around the block to be part of it.

For me Brighton Art Fair offers the same as it did back then - a unique opportunity to sell work directly to the public in a professional yet relaxed environment. There is a real sense of equality between the artists - who range from those just starting out to the established artists that show their work regularly through respected galleries throughout the country.

I am lucky to have some great galleries representing me, allowing me to concentrate on painting and them on building up an audience for my work. However, there is something special about Brighton Art Fair that makes me come out of the studio to engage with people about my work, it’s the only art fair I do myself yet I can’t give it up, it really is a pleasure to be a part of.


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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ten Years, Ten Artists: Natalie Martin

My first Brighton Art Fair was terrifying. I had applied, mainly in solidarity with a friend, not thinking for one moment that I would be accepted. I couldn’t have been more shocked to get in. But shock was rapidly replaced with horror as I realized I had been painting for less than a year and only had the three paintings that I had applied with to fill my stand. I spent that summer working at fever pitch to prepare enough work to hang. Which is why I probably still see October as a compulsory month off.

I was scared stiff through the Private View but my salvation came the next morning. Rod McIntosh, a fabulous artist and arts consultant, was giving consultations and he managed to talk some sense into me. So instead of bursting into tears and going home as I’d planned, I just tried to relax and enjoy the weekend. And it was an amazing weekend!
The response from the public was so lovely. Who knew so many people liked stairs? But the two things I found most helpful were the questions people asked me, making me consider aspects of my work that hadn’t even crossed my mind while I was painting them; and the level of support from the other artists.

That is something that I still find extremely important. Whenever I consider a change in direction or have an art related decision to make, just being able to have a chat with someone who is in the same position as me or remembers what I’m going through is invaluable. It’s the litmus test when it comes to new work or new ideas. I’m not known for being good at taking advice when it comes to my work but I will take it from anyone in that room.

And besides that, being shut in for four days with folk, you get a bit of bonding going on. In my case, usually over cake. Or wine. Occasionally there’s wine.
This will be my seventh Brighton Art Fair and I can’t wait. Some of them have been pretty difficult. I’ve had to stand and smile, trying to pretend that I didn’t have the flu or that my uncle’s funeral wasn’t going on elsewhere or that my heart was broken. But I have also laughed so hard I’ve had to leave my stand, been complimented so much I’ve not known where to look and met some of the most amazing and interesting people. Generally it falls on or near my birthday too so more often than not it’s an added source of celebration.

I constantly tell Rod that I wouldn’t be where I am without him and what he said to me that first morning when I was so overwhelmed. He tells me to shut up and that its down to my hard work, which is also true I guess. But I know damn well that a big chunk of the life I have now I owe to Jon and Sarah, Anne-Marie and the team for giving me that first opportunity on the strength of the only three paintings I'd ever made.
We were asked to write what the art fair means to us.

Brighton Art Fair made me a painter and gave me a career. So I guess it means everything.

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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Ten Years, Ten Artists: Sam Lock

To celebrate ten years of the Brighton Art Fair, we have asked ten artists who are exhibiting this year, but who have also regularly exhibited with us in the past, to write about their experiences of the fair. What the fair means to them professionally, what they like about it, how it has changed and why they keep wanting to come back!
This is the first in the series...


My first showing at Brighton Art Fair was in 2005 and marked a significant step for me professionally.  It was a successful fair both commercially in terms of sales and also with regards to how my work was received and until this point I had concentrated on pop-up exhibitions and selling in shops.  The experience of exhibiting at the art fair and the step-up in professional standards and approach was a crucial confidence boost and encouraged me to have more ambition for my work.  It generated several exciting opportunities the year after, showing in several galleries and receiving lucrative commissions, most notably for a Yacht, a hotel in Switzerland and a villa in Saudi Arabia.  The contacts it generated continue today and are the backbone of my business.  I have been part of the art fair each year since and see it as the most important event in my year plan, a chance to invest in the cultural and creative health of the city where I live and work whilst consolidating existing business contacts.  Showing regularly has created some great friendships with fellow exhibitors but also with clients who have started to become collectors of my work and the many visitors who speak to me each year about how my work and career has developed.

The strength of the Brighton Art Fair is the direct relationship between artist and public, it has a personable atmosphere which is distinct from other art fairs dominated by galleries.  Although its sales are substantial, it is not all about dollars and cents and I have always felt that it has given me more than a boost in the bank balance.  Preparing for the show is the main focus of the summer for me, developing a new body of work to showcase and starting to articulate about its inspiration and aims so I can talk confidently to interested visitors.  It is always busy and talking to so many people about your work is affirming and helps you to gain new insights into your working practice and I am buzzing in the studio for weeks after the fair.  For me I use the Brighton Art Fair as a launchpad for the year's new projects and directions, feeding off the camaraderie with so many other artists and taking that confidence and energy back into the more solitary environment of the studio. 





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