Five questions to Hannah Vickery

Five questions to Hannah Vickery

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Hannah Vickery was born in Coventry, England in 1970. She lives in Oxford, where she paints from her garden studio. She took an Art Foundation course at Coventry Polytechnic, then a BA (Hons) Graphic Design at Liverpool Polytechnic, and an MA in Design and Digital Media at Coventry University. Her approach to painting has been influenced by several contemporary artists, but she is primarily self-taught.

Tell us your story, why did you become an artist?

I began painting after over two decades working in graphic design -- initially in print, and then in digital media. I always enjoyed design but began to miss the tactile nature of making art, especially after a decade working almost exclusively digitally.

I took a career break to raise my daughter, and it was during this time I decided to create original artistic backgrounds for freelance design projects. Over a period of a few years, this design-based art morphed into actual painting then to more serious commitment exhibiting with local art groups and juried exhibtions.

When you create a new work, how do you go about it? What comes first?

I usually begin with an initial idea – which can take the form of a verbal phrase, a few verses of prose, scripture or a poem, or a general conceptual theme. These ideas then develop through the process of physical experimentation in smaller paintings, which then become the springboard for large bodies of work. I collate photos of all previous work, and to them I continually add other visual materials and ideas, which then accumulate into a collection of source references.

But my paintings are never derivative of my evolving environment of source reference material. Rather, when I start an original painting, I begin with initial ‘loose’ marks, basic shapes, and a light, colour, or tonal contrast with which to first ‘activate’ the canvas. I initially work intuitively, responding to the painting by building up both depth and texture through many multiple layers, and the painting then begins to emerge. What can you tell us about your studio, what makes it special to you and how does it influence the way you work?

My studio building is a Scandinavian log cabin located in my garden. It is an amazing space to paint in as I can make as much mess as I like in the process of exploration, preparation, or working on several paintings at the same time. Sometimes I need to pin source references, images, material or hang older paintings on the studio walls. I collect a range of materials and beachcombing debris, like wood and stones, and keep them in my studio as part of my environment:  the studio sometimes feels more like a workshop, especially so when I am mixing experimental media. It is also a liberating space, large enough for painting over-scale canvases; and being next to my house I can wander in to think or reflect on my work outside of studio time, do a few minutes or even hours in a summer’s evening, which can be uniquely productive.Is there a work of art in your life that has especially impressed you?

Visiting the Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice (France) in the summer of 2014 was my most memorable artistic experience to date. The entire experience was transcendent, which sounds a cliché but there is no other term I could use: I will never forget the impact of the size, scale, luminous colour, and complex iconography of his paintings, enveloping me in every room. I particularly remember the role Chagall gives the colour blue.

Reach to the stars: where will you be in 5 years?

I will have developed my expertise and created larger-scale paintings and with this, larger bodies of work. I will have sold to collectors internationally and have exhibited in a large solo show, as well as annual regional and city-based shows.Learn more about the artist: