RIKKI TURNER / Q&A
Born in East Sussex, achieving her BA at University of Westminster in 2009 and an MA at Central St Martins, her first solo exhibition in 2016 in London, Duo exhibition in London in 2018, exhibited in Berlin and 8 group exhibitions - she is a force that cannot be stopped, and why would we?
Get ready to embark on her incredible journey and she takes us through her work and how she deals with the current pandemic.
Q: Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into art?
A: I was born and grew up in a bohemian english seaside town, St-Leonards-On-Sea. During my childhood I was immersed in nature, collecting shells on the beach, swimming in the sea and spending time in nearby parks and woodlands. My mother is an avid walker, so we spent a lot of time walking on a daily basis. Drawing and painting became a natural response to recording my observations of the world around me, small events and phenomena from everyday life and the natural world. This is similar to how I’m motivated today too.
Seeing painting as a form of recording like a day-to-day visual diary. The Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara made a long series of Date paintings (the Today series) 1966 which thematically are quite similar in my approach to life through painting. In 2006 I moved to London to study mixed media fine art at the University of Westminster. Transitioning into city living was hard at the beginning. I soon settled in and have loved living in such a vibrant city ever since, going on to study my Masters in Art at Central St Martins. I often feel I’m seeking the natural world and there is definitely a dichotomy between industrial and organic in my work.
Q: What was a defining moment in your art career?
A: Being an artist is a continual journey. Defining moments are often found in the making of things, when you manage to achieve something poetic or unseen - something clicks and it makes sense to you - that feeling is very addictive and perhaps the motivation of making more work too. Seeing something you have not seen before and for a short moment feeling at peace with the achievement.
My first group exhibition in Berlin ’Nothing gold can stay part 1’ is very memorable for me - informed by Marshall Berman’s book, ‘All that is solid melts into air’. At the time I was working with my closest friends, we worked collectively merging our ideas and the whole experience. It is strange we don’t have as many artists movements or collectives in quite the same way as the past. Being a painter feels like a very solo career now. I often imagine working in the Bauhaus times, abstract expressionism or surrealism might have been different.
Q: What is your work about in terms of the message you want to convey, and the emotions you want your viewer to feel when seeing your artwork? and what are you currently working on?
A: I like to ask people what they see in my paintings. Often people recognize figurative elements that they insist are faces, places, landscapes or objects. I think it's very interesting how the Human mind is designed to see meaning in abstraction. I have been wondering whether you can find a sense of identity in the landscapes you come to know as home. I am very fascinated how Howard Hodgkin travelled the world and managed to create abstract paintings which somehow trapped these emotions of place in a simple abstract painted mark.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about water, fluidity and femininity and about the history of watercolour painting as a medium, specifically its link to hobbyists, female painters and the British landscape. I am currently working on watercolours for an upcoming exhibition in South London Project space no format Gallery.
Q: Could you describe for us the process of creating your artwork?
A: I work in continual series of works usually on paper, canvas, polyester or recycled metal printing surfaces. I am very in touch with the notion of the death of painting or the end of abstract painting as an emblem of modernism. This has always informed my work - making me me feel quite anxious about mark-making and having bold marks to express ones self in a way that might seem associated to outmoded forms of abstract expressionism. I always felt uneasy making assertive or confident painted marks - by adopting erased gestures and layers to echo myself in surface, as trace rather than so definitive. To achieve these effects- I use brushes, clothes and sponges to wipe and erase with wet-on-wet techniques. By working in series I never see a final painting as complete but rather a segment of a larger whole. Often my works are exhibited in grids, lines or configurations to give a sense of narrative like words in a sentence, a roll of film or photographs being developed in a dark room.
Q: With everything that is happening this year especially during this pandemic, how has that affected your art? What are the kind of challenges you are facing and how do you continue to find inspiration and motivation?
A: As a painter you often spend a lot of time alone in your studio, especially the nature of my work which is introspective. I really felt very sad and scared about the pandemic and all the lost lives to the virus. I needed to find refuge in my paintings which are a bit of another meditative world for me. For about 2 months it was not very safe to visit the studios so I made a lot of miniature watercolours on paper. Since then I have spent most of my time developing these - upscaling techniques and pushing the boundaries of the medium.
Q: If there was an artist who you could collaborate with, who might that be? -
A: A female painter of the past! Like Agnes Martin, Georgia O’keefe, Hilma af klimt, Sonia Delaunay, Joan Mitchell, Prunella Clough, Sandra Blow, Jay DeFeo and Lee krasner to name a few…