I managed to grab a few words from fantastic local painter Ray Martin on his journey with art and his inspirations.
(Above recent work by Ray)
Tell us a bit about your journey with art?
I believe art is inherent, although, until nurtured cannot become more than that. There are many forms of expression, from literature, to music production from which any person can choose to pursue, but personally, I am satisfied most by creating visually. That is not to say that I always knew I was going to end up creating the paintings I do now, and that is also not to say that I will be creating the paintings I do now in fifteen years time. Creativity, in my eyes, is very much a journey. An exciting and surprising one at that. I came to art school 5 years ago, fresh and also naive about the world. Art school is a brilliant place, because it has few rules. It gave me the time and confidence to experiment with my creativity, to learn more about the world outside of Chester (my hometown and shell), and to meet wonderful people. It was quite late on in my degree that I started to paint, and although I have always been drawn to, and created 2D images, I felt for a long time that it was less exciting than some of the other things going on around me. I began to work in sculpture, performance and installation in my first years but I wasn’t truly satisfied until I picked up a paint brush. It wasn’t an immediate fit though, there was a lot of frustration and a stack of terrible work but at some point it did click. I remember the breakthrough painting very well, I was sat at my space, surrounded by a huge (and horrific) mural painting I had created from one of my dreams and I was also working on a small board I had primed the wrong colour (a bright, thick orange) at the same time. I was lazy and didn’t cut the board down to the right proportions first, so just masked it off and started putting in a few loose landscape-y marks. I had a group crit. soon after and unsurprisingly the mural was ignored. There was something much more interesting in this small painting that I had approached, unintentionally, unconventionally. My eyes were opened a little bit wider from then. Since then I have been discovering more and more about the technique, the history of and my personal language within painting. Every new painting, or series is an education for myself and I can’t wait for the next time my eyes widen.
How would you describe your style of art?
My paintings place themselves in the middle of different area. They not entirely figurative, nor abstract. They depict the natural landscape but appear very unnatural in their use of hard-edges and overly-saturated colours. Some are the size of a post card, and others I have had problems removing from buildings. It is the meeting of different visual languages that I find most intriguing.
Can you name some things that inspire your art, pieces already finished or works in progress?
The landscape imagery I use is found online, in books or magazines I pick up in charity shops. I guess I am initially inspired by these images; the placement of the photo on the page.
Are there any characteristics of Manchester and its scene that inspire or influence your works?
That’s a funny one as my worked actually stemmed from a rejection of Manchester. I don’t deal with the grey weather too well, so my escape came in the form of my resource books. Don’t get me wrong, Manchester has a beautiful, subtle lighting but I’m not one for translating subtleties. It’s also quite hard to find a place to yourself here, it’s a vibrant city. Back in Chester I used to have a few places I’d go to and know that I could have time alone. On top of a 5 story car park, or a mile down the cycle path. At the time, I didn’t know Manchester so well, so felt claustrophobic. I guess that has something to do with why I moved away from painting people and urban spaces. Even though I rejected Manchester’s scenery you cannot help but take influence from small things that surround you. I get a great deal of my colour choices from shop fronts, peoples clothing or posters around the city. My feeling of Manchester have changed since. I’m intrigued to see how this changes my work.
Any artists (of any genre) right now that are catching your attention in the wider culture of arts? UK, Europe or the rest of the world?
I found a really exciting Parisian painter online recently, Matthieu Clainchard. He employs the palette and formal qualities of video test screens into large public and gallery installations. The work is interesting to me, as it highlights how images can manipulate our perceptions.
(above Matthieu Clainchard art)
Are there any movements, events or projects going on in manchester right now that you would recommend for local aspiring or working artists in the area?
Check out the ‘Real Painting’ exhibition at Castlefield Gallery, on until the 2nd August. I loved it!
“the exhibition emphasizes the essential grammar of painting, considering not necessarily what a painting means but what it ‘does’”…(Castlefield Gallery)
Do you have any particular or personal goals that you are aspiring to right now with your work?
Absolutely, I’ve used what time I’ve had since graduating to really evaluate what kind of artist I am. I’ve had to remind myself that although I may not be in the studio every spare minute, painting, it’s okay. At the end of the day, graduate life is difficult for a creative. Creating a way of working that is sustainable is very important, as I want to be doing this for a long time to come. I am currently researching ways I can be involved in arts education, whilst applying for funding to work on my own practice. In terms of my work I have realised I need to be more delicate with my surface prep, like I was in university as it makes an enormous difference to the quality of work I make. I also need to use more brown. I don’t use enough brown.
Are there any exhibitions coming up that will be showing your work at?
Yes, I have a show at Sugar Store Gallery at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal in November to coincide with the Kendal Mountain Festival.
Interview by Yemi Bolatiwa