We are delighted to have introduced the works of Eleanor Adair to the gallery this Spring. It is, at first, a departure from what you may expect to find in a Rural West Coast Scottish Gallery, but we love it and are keen to keep bringing you challenging works that intrigue and provoke. This blog spends some time exploring Eleanor's practice, theory and artistic approach, its an insight into the workings of this fantastic artist. Read on to find out more.
Seascape 1. The Man who swallowed the sea. £1100
Eleanor Adair was born and grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. She has exhibited throughout the UK, including Liverpool, Glasgow, and London and in 1996 was awarded the John. F. Munro Purchase Prize through the Society of Scottish Artists in Edinburgh. She was one of the selected artists chosen to take part in the public art project The Other Slide in Edinburgh in 2002 with the art group Djinniditto. She currently lives and works in Edinburgh.
1. WHAT TRAINING HAVE YOU HAD IF ANY?
I didn't go to art school so have no formal training, however, I'd say being taught artistic skills is only one possible aspect of being an artist. I think much of the creative process is driven by motivation that comes from the interaction between everything from biology to culture. So, you learn and develop your art from your responses to all sorts of experiences. I'd probably say that my engagement with travelling has allowed me experiences that shape my creativity, also my children, relationships and my own childhood have been instrumental in training and directing who I am as an artist and consequently my art.
Venus 2. £190
2. WHAT ARE YOUR ARTISTIC INFLUENCES?
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
It's always exciting to encounter good art, you connect, that's invigorating, and if you get excited you get inspired. That's the life that makes you paint. I'm captivated by the artists of the Tudor period, the sheer beauty and intensity of Durer, for example. I love the fury of Bacon and DeKooning, Picasso's inventiveness, the precision of DaVinci and the complexities of Skotnes. Recently I've been fascinated by neolithic and paleolithic archaeology. Creating contemporary depictions of our ancient history has allowed me to engage artistically with the rich and complex narrative of our past, which helps me understand who we are today. It's the human condition and its possibilities that intrigue me and push me to paint: our capacity for thought, language and humanity next to our brutalities. Social media has opened up a whole new world for me in terms of connection and inspiration. I think the need for connectivity keeps artists motivated to produce and we have such potential to do this on a huge scale now. The current artists I admire on social media have played an important role inspiring me and I'm hugely grateful for that. It's been a new lease of life for me as someone who came from an environment where art wasn't encouraged.
3. TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR ARTISTIC PRACTICE?
Up until recently I've always used oils. I love their disobedience, their immediacy and how they reveal their story to you on the canvas as the painting plays out. I had concerns that turning to acrylics would be a static process, that they would lack the gutsiness of oils and wouldn't give me much to work with. What I've found is they have their own personality, a freshness that gives them their own energy. The fact they are quick drying means you can play with them in a different way, so contrary to being static, they are constantly moving because you can constantly produce new images on top of one another. Painting for me is a volatile process,it answers me back and I fight with it a lot more than drawing. On the other hand, drawing is calming and enjoyable, it's a more playful experience, a mutual dialogue. There's an interesting phenomenon in cognitive psychology called Pareidolia, where we see random patterns, usually faces, in objects. Much of my work starts from making out such shapes in abstract formations. I love to draw "blind" where you work without looking at the paper, it bypasses a lot of conditioning and brings a certain freedom of form to the page. I also have terrible eyesight, so my mind joins up the dots and blanks with absurd lines that my portraits emerge from.
Venus 3. £270
4. DESCRIBE YOUR PRELIMINARY PROCESS
I don't tend to do a lot of preparation, I suppose I feel restless if I plan as I worry doing so might lose some of the immediacy and may actually censor what I paint. (Actually, writing that I can see that I'm just impatient). Mostly my work evolves as I do it. Often, I'll start with a few lines on a page or canvas and things will start appearing, rather like putting down a playground for the lines to play in. I follow them around so that it becomes almost like a line dance. The need to paint is sparked perhaps by seeing a work of art online, a shape in a wall or a thought that connects with something I've read that provokes an image. I think there is a lot of studio work that goes on in my head that I'm unaware of and when it arrives at my consciousness I paint!
Seascape 5. Between the Sea. £1300
5. WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
Well, I feel like I have no choice and this means I have a love/hate relationship with my art. Often when I'm not painting I feel like I'm winning, like I have some kind of control over my art. I would say for most of my life I've struggled to accept and like what I do, not the work itself so much, but the fact I don't have any freedom from it. I've had a huge turnaround lately though for two reasons. Firstly, I've just finished a psychology degree and learning about evolutionary psychology has enabled me to understand and see the purpose of art in a new light and attach a value to it that I fought against before. It's been revealing for me that science has provided me with a comprehension and solace that art has been unable to do. Rather than me battling with the idea that the artistic mind is a faulty one, science has given me an insight into art that has meant I've been able to progress with it. Secondly, social media has meant a connection outside of my own space and I feel I've found a world where both the art and artist are valued. Other artists, and indeed galleries, have allowed me to both see and be myself without compromise. Not only have they accepted my artistic voice, but they have appreciated it and that connection has given me a new relationship with my art. I've also been very lucky to participate with a number of artists through social media on various artistic projects.
6. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE AN AUDIENCE TO TAKE FROM YOUR WORK?
I think a sense of connectivity, a comfort, despite the fact I know many people see disruption in my work. For people to see the potential in humanity, to question their own assumptions and judgements and open themselves to new or different answers they may come up with through their encounter with art. If someone can be influenced by the language of art they gain the abilty to hear and speak new thoughts and I think it's this dialogue that helps humanity progress. That movement, that chain of influence and inspiration is a truly remarkable occurrence and one that artists are very privileged to be part of.
Seascape 2. The Island. £1300