How did your artistic journey start?
I loved Art from a very young age, textures and colour especially, the smell of powder paint, making mud pies in the garden… not much has changed, I still love those things!

How did you arrive at the theme of your work?
The idea behind CURIoS began with a realisation that often the artists I collaborate with, have interesting concepts, subject matter, or visual ambiguity in their work, I am always curious about their intention and the viewers response. My inclusions here are developmental pieces that are part of a project which considers ‘bodies’, water and movement through clay and colour, the paintings are abstract explorations, not finished works as I am not a painter as such.

Can you walk us through your creative process?
Materials themselves are often a catalyst to making, whatever I intuitively feel like experimenting with, sparked by a random urge, a momentary thought, or sometimes archival research. All aspects of my process are an interchange with varying emphasis on materials and meaning, developing ideas rather than finished products. Collaboration is fundamental to my process, so there is always a journey of discovery which evolves out of the combination of discourse and interaction. Presenting artworks may be mid-process as in this exhibition, or with site-specific installation, a culmination of the project that represents concepts and relationships with material objects, people, and place.

How has your practice changed over time?
Increasingly experimenting with materials, I have developed an affinity for installation of multiple works. I recognise that being a multi-disciplinary artist, with socially engaged practice methodology, I will continue to push the boundaries of what my art practice is.

How do you overcome creative blocks?
I am lucky enough to say that I don’t really have creative blocks, probably because I often return to paint or clay and simply ‘play’ which fills the space between projects.

Who influences you? Which other artists work do you love? 
Key influences are feminism, conceptualism, human rights, and environmental issues. Although often not apparent initially as my responses are quite abstract and notional, the work is inspired by ideas relating to these cultural and political factors, subtle representations that relate to our experiences, injustice, or social concerns.

Artists work I love includes abstract painters from the Expressionist movement, and Land Art, such as Mark Rothko, and Andy Goldsworthy. Eva Hesse and Barbara Hepworth, true icons of the C20th sit deep in my core, I am moved by the colour and vision of Georgia O’Keeffe, and I adore the passion and expression of Joan Eardley. 

However, most significantly, I am influenced by feminist artists, particularly radical performance, and installation, including works of Judy Chicago, Faith Wilding, Doris Salcedo, Martha Rosler Carolee Schneemann, Marina Abramovic, and Ana Mendieta. Later artist such as Jenny Holtzer, Tracy Emin, Sarah Lucas, and Kate Davis… the list can go on. 

Ceramics has recently become a more prominent interest and artists such as Lindsey Mendick and Charlott Rodgers are fascinating. I routinely expand my awareness of contemporary and emerging female artists work, which inspires and motivates me to continue to develop beyond the conventional.

What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out?
Advice I might offer would be to be fearless, nothing need hold you back, the gift of making art is a most precious thing, to be celebrated and enjoyed!

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your work or your experiences as an artist?
Working as an artist allows for self-expression, engagement with others, and a voice in society. It is truly important that we value it, it is a privilege that I desperately hope continues to be open to all, and that support for the Arts and further education does not become possible only for the wealthy. You may say art is a mirror or a hammer, or anything you like, but never should it be boring!

See Lesley’s work at our most recent exhibition, CURIoS running at Six Foot Gallery until Tuesday 5th December.

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