Bristol 24/7 Autumn Feast

Thursday November 16, in partnership with Square Food Foundation.

Enjoy a three-course banquet style dinner prepared by Square Food’s Barny Haughton and a team of 12 young budding chefs as part of my 25 year celebration exhibition.
The evening will be an opportunity to bring people together and celebrate our wonderful city. Enjoy seasonal, local and delicious food, drink wine and hear about what Bristol24/7 is up to.

10% of the proceeds of all sculptures, drawings and paintings sold on the night will go to B24/7’s social impact agenda.

For more info and to book tickets:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bristol247-autumn-feast-tickets-37447792355

Planning my 25 year exhibition I knew it had to be a Bristol celebration. I would not only show over 100 artworks in a cavernous space, I would aim for high tide, a swell, a gathering of folk to teach and to inspire so it leaves behind a rich residue of connections, ideas, and hopefully some money, to nourish new growth.

I first came across the Square Food Foundation at a fundraising meal at Spike Island Café, Barny talked about doing cookery classes for people who didn’t know how to cook cheaply, or at all, it was a simple, human and inspirational idea.

As often happens in our city, a chance conversation with B24/7 has helped bring these ideas together. Their social impact agenda is about many things, but to me it’s about making these types of connections and to help us all grow with each other.

Below is interview I did with Bristol 24/7 about the event.

Q. What is your connection to Bristol, and why have you based your studio here?

In 1992, I had two commissions from my degree show and moved directly from Winchester to the Bristol Sculpture Shed. A few sculptors from Winchester were at the ‘shed’ so it was the studio that first brought me here.

We all then moved into Spike Island, and then have been at Paintworks since it started over 10 years ago. Over the years I have had temporary studios in London and Barcelona, but Bristol has always been home. It is here that I have grown up as a sculptor.

Q. Do you find that Bristol has been a good location for your artistic outlets?

It seems ridiculous to like a city because ‘it’s the right size’ but as well as being geographically easy to navigate by cycle it’s got everything. It’s difficult to create in a vacuum, you need good quality inspiration and Bristol has that.

There’s always plenty to see, do, hear and of course taste – it sounds horribly hipster but I love the fact that I can go to a poetry evening, get a locally brewed pint and buy a loaf of bread all at the same time.

Q. We’re celebrating your 25th year: what have you learned over that time, and do you have any tips for budding artists?

As my tutor at college said, ‘it’s just a f…… job’. He had a really annoying habit of being right a lot of times. What I think he was saying was don’t get all artsy-fartsy about making work, just get on with it, treat it like a job and get up every day and do it.

I left Winchester School of Art with determination and passion but I am afraid what they forgot to add was confidence. I didn’t rush my portfolio around the London galleries, I aimed low, as that is what I believed I was worth. I framed some drawings and prints, made cards and took them to a car boot fair. Literally, people looked at me as if I was mad, but it was a start.

You are the way you are but over time you recognise your traits more clearly and I realise I have always been both overly insecure and independent, I never want to ask for help preferring always to just get on with it. After 25 years I realise that this is both my weakness and my strength.

All you can do is work with what you’ve got but as my tutor said, you do have to work hard and put the hours in.

Q. What message are you trying to pass on to younger generations, and why do you think it is important?

I wouldn’t be so bold as to try and say I had a message but I could say it helps to look, work hard, believe in yourself but not so much as that you can’t see.

And never be afraid to start.

Q. Through the Autumn Feast, you’re choosing to support the Bristol24/7 social impact agenda – what does it mean to you?

I had a bit of a tricky spell as a teenager and ended up homeless, having ‘no fixed abode’ you suddenly find yourself on a very slippery slope but I was lucky enough to have been taught to cook.

Having nowhere to go in the evenings and no money I used to sit in the pub drinking water, eventually the landlord said I could use the kitchen upstairs. It was a bit of a rough pub so he was happy to let me have a go and try and ‘improve the clientele’.

I set up my own business doing lunches (it was too hectic in the evenings). It was a slow start, someone would order something at the bar like a sandwich and I would say ‘won’t be a min’. I would take the money for the order and run out the back of the pub to the shop and buy the stuff to make it, it escalated from there until I had enough money to make proper food and Sunday lunches.

One Sunday lunch when I had all my happy customers eating roast beef and Yorkshire puddings someone had issue with the landlord and a fight broke out, ashtrays were thrown at the optics and glasses were being flung about the place. It kind of put a bad vibe on my ‘family lunch’ location but it got me ‘off the streets’.

So, you could say food saved my life! The experience also helped me realise that not everyone can make it, can change the road they are on, without a lucky break and a supportive helping hand.

When Graham and I set up the Bristol Drawing School we never asked anyone to help or permission to set it up, he is also very independent and so we just went for it. We did some great things with the school that we are proud of, but in the end it was a lot for us to take on our own, and eventually we moved it to the RWA where it is a pleasure to see it still flourishing.

What I like about the Bristol 24/7 approach is the way it’s about making connections, all those people and organisations, like the Drawing School, that are battling to do good things on their own are being brought together. The feast is perfect example of this, people have been really happy to help and work together to make something bigger than any of them could do on their own.

Q. As part of the Autumn Feast, your ‘Eve‘ sculpture will be auctioned. What made you pick that one?

A few years ago, I was at a Justin Townes Earle gig at St Bonaventure’s, and someone shouted a song request from the audience, he just looked at them and said, ‘don’t tell me what to do’, and it made me smile for weeks. This piece has Eve sitting there with all those apples, and no one is going to tell her what she can or cannot do with them.

 

Interview with Chippy

‘Every Wed Chippy takes himself off for an evening of self indulgence at the Bristol Drawing School joint owned by artist Carol Peace…He catches up with Carol outside of drawing classes on the eve of her open studio weekend’

You opened the drawing school in Jan 2008 as a not for profit education venue, how is it going?

Brilliant! Just finished a course with some students one of whom said it was the best course she had ever been on! Its great seeing people so fired up and inspired about stuff, the courses and the energy are inspiring me with my work. It’s not only a buzz to be learning but it’s like a support as well. Although financially it needs a bit of help we are moving forwards and are now planning a few study trips in Europe…how exciting!!

Why did you choose to base your studio and the drawing school in Bristol?

It was either here or London, I came here straight from college to the Bristol Sculpture Shed (now spike island) I had a few commissions from my degree show and just had to get on with it, I did not know much about Bristol but thought the sculpture shed would be a good option so moved with some mates from college…and never looked back!

I love it here, the size, the diversity, and the fact that there is always too much going on in a city that I can bike across in 20 minuets. I can get the train from near my house at 7.30 and be in London by 10ish and I can walk out of the city into rolling hills the next day….cool!

I had dreams of a big farm with a drawing school attached but Graham ( the other half of the drawing school ) is more urban and feels the school has more going for it in a city, somehow more alive. I completely agree and with the options that are now open to the drawing school my country retreat seems rather tame!

How do you juggle your workload between your own work and that of the drawing school?

It was tricky to start with, as I tended to get involved with things and then get distracted with my work and forget I was supposed to be doing something. So now I am more the artistic director ( i.e I just talk a lot get very excited about things ) the real work of the school is done by Graham the director. There is never enough time to do what we want to do but hopefully we will get some funding so we can do more.

I love doing the drawing school stuff and get a huge amount from it both personally and as inspiration for work but I have to remember I am a sculptor first.

Why Bronze and Resin?

I make the sculptures in clay which is easy to model, fluid like charcoal and lovely to make marks in but I have never fired much work so it has to be cast, it’s a massively long process but I still get off on the idea of making something so fluid and easy to make marks in, into something solid and unchangeable like bronze.

Why females?

I guess because I am one and I know more about what it is to be one.

What advice would you give to anyone who would like to make a career out of sculpture?

Work at it, put the hours in, work, draw, work more, draw more, be humble, be honest, make work from yourself, what you want to make not what you think you should make. Be strong. Take on board criticism but never let it put you off as it will.
On the way down to the studio today I was thinking about an article that was in the ft which said the worm was turning, the next turner prize shortlist has ‘an emphasis on those who make as well as think’ it’s a bit like fashion, if you stay the same it usually comes back around to being trendy again!
But what I am trying to emphasize is you have to be true to yourself otherwise what’s the point.

You have won several prestigious commissions, where do you start with big commissions?

Its great if the people who are commissioning you will go with you, with ideas so you work like a team, usually they see work they like in the studio or at an exhibition and they want something similar, larger or have a particular idea and we work together on it, or I do an interpretation of their idea.
With the public commissions it is similar. I have never applied for many things as I am a bit shy about it but I just put myself out there and hope people come to me.

Do you struggle letting go of commissions that you have spent hours working on?

Everything is cast so I have a copy for myself or I have the mold so I know I could make an artists copy, so no I don’t have a problem with that. Paintings and drawings I make are unrepeatable so find them more difficult to sell.

Do you collect art and if so what?

I wouldn’t say I collect art; more give in to desire and lust for it. Mostly painting. At the moment I am desperate to buy one of Richard Cartwright’s paintings, his work is brilliant.

Your drawings are excellent and seem effortless, have you always drawn like this?

My drawing changes all the time and its always a struggle!

Have you shown outside of the UK?

Yes, I went through a faze of going all over the place I started in France and then went to Athens, Zurich even did a symposium in Columbia. Now I mostly show in London but I would love to show in New York….obviously!

Is The Chipster (Chippy) your favorite student?

I couldn’t possibly comment! We have lots of lovely students at the drawing school but he does try hard and he does care, he puts the effort in!

What do you listen to when in your studio?

Tom Waites, JJ Cale, Billy Holiday. A lot of music that is too cheesy to mention but those are long time favorites.

What artists inspire you?

How much time have you got!

I find things that I could not possibly attempt to do, things that are very different to my work the most inspiring.

I admire musicians and composers hugely. I can not comprehend in any way how you would write a song or where to start and how someone could put something together so well with all the different parts in it, the way a cd is such a small thing, so cheap really compared to art and yet it can be important and mean something ( something different ) to so many people.

Sometimes you go to an exhibition and find yourself in front of a painting and you have one of those moments when you realise you have to raise your game. It happens to me mostly in front of paintings, the last time it did was at an Andrew Crocker exhibition at Beaux Arts in Bath.

At the moment to name some people I would say
Richard Cartwright
Andrew Gifford
Volkert Olij
Vermeer
Rembrandt
Giacometi – his painting

loise borgious – her big spider – for the idea of walking through a sculpture and seeing someone walking towards you

Do you work rigidly from completed drawings or do your sculptures evolve and you work on them?

The sculptures always change when I make them; the drawing gives me the knowledge to know when something looks wrong but I cant think of a time when I have used a finished drawing to make a piece of work from.

Where did the big feet come from in your sculptures?

I am afraid that’s a bit of an unknown to me!…..they just look right like that to me, I have no excuse really.

Three things you loathe?

Greed, social climbing, networking ( are they the same? )

Three things you love?

Graham, my family and our dog

Q. I have heard you are looking for a studio swap with an artist the States, how would that work?

I would swap my studio and our garden flat in Redland for a work live in the States, preferably New York. It would be both Graham and myself. The Bristol Drawing School being next door could potentially provide the artist/artists with an exhibition and open access to the courses. It is roughly 1000sq ft.

Student Interview

What has been your proudest working moment so far?

It is usually about sculptures I have made rather than the achievements of those sculptures to get to certain places. My ambition is within the greatness of the achievement within the piece rather than the position it has raised the artist to.

A good feeling is to make a painting or sculpture and then after, when all the worry, indecision’s and insecurities have gone, when you become slightly detached from it through time you wonder how you did it and worry terribly that you could never do it again. But usually I am very critical of past work and therefore satisfaction is limited.

What is the most important thing you like to express with your art?

The most important thing with my art is honesty, sometimes I can be too cheesey or potentially naff, I worry I don’t hide my personal feelings enough and can be a bit blatant but I always use the excuse that I am being true to how I feel, its just me. It is what it is.

If you are not honest there is absolutely no point.