Tuesday, 29 October 2013

November Rain Artists Interview Ruth Gray

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Ruth Gray, I am a Landscape painter and also the author of this blog! Which is part of my work as PR for g2g the collaboration of two galleries (Studio 61 Gallery and Cromford Studio and Gallery) and their artists.

Why do you do what you do?

I have always painted since as long as I can remember, it’s something that I was good at and something that no one could dictate to me how to do. There is so much in life that we have to compromise on but art is the one thing I don’t compromise on so that’s why I do it…. Freedom to be me!

What’s your background?

I left university when I was 19 and two weeks work experience turned into a twelve year career as a Lingerie designer working for all the major high street stores. Things started changing in the industry and what was a hands on creative job became computerised and made overseas. But lucky for me my husband was sent to Australia with his job so we went to live in Albury Wodonga three hours north of Melbourne. This is where things got real good I worked in galleries and picture framers, co-ordinated workshops, was the publicity officer for the Art Society and developed my art practice to the point of writing for national magazines and putting on solo and joint shows. When we decided to return 6 years later, I completed my degree and have been building up my art business and over here.

What art do you most identify with?

I identify with work that provokes a reaction in me, something researched or from the heart. I have cried many times in art galleries as well as laughed, but my best experience was in Tate Britain in an installation called ‘coral reef’ it reminded me of so many rooms I have stumbled into in my life that I wish I hadn’t! An extremely unnerving artwork that’s why it’s brilliant! See for yourself here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUsaSnyvZnA  For me a great work of art is one that leaves you in awe. It doesn’t have to be painting, the art I like is wide ranging.

What themes do you pursue?

My work has always been personal even if that is not obvious to the viewer, It used to be more obvious in that I would paint a series based on my migrational experience or on the experience of still birth, or drought, but now in subtle ways I am able to revisit past experiences  in a way that appeals to others as well as my need to get it out!  The November Rain series  for Studio 61 is more abstract than most. I am currently obsessed with the notion that if I paint what is around me today it will soon be a historic view, a moment in time. Already the series I am working on The Ripley Rattler is outdated as houses have been repainted, shops taken over or up for sale, at first I was horrified that a green house in Ripley that I had painted was now brick after renovation but I’m happy that I have recorded it just before its makeover!

How do you work?

I live my life and record the things I see on camera, I then  spend hours sifting through photos and manipulating the best ones. Then one day I will have an idea for a show and I will collate the photos into files go take some more and start a new series. While I am painting that series I become like an actor and immerse myself in my subject research and fact finding… whether this research is obvious in my work you be the judge but I always think the best actors are the ones who can show emotion with just a raise of an eyebrow. I can’t paint well unless I am emotionally connected to the subject.  For my PR work I love meeting all the interesting artists and finding out about their practice and trying to find ways of showing them off in a good light via blogs like this one.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

Retail Assistant, Picture Framer, Hair Dressers Sweep, Gallery Assistant, Functions Officer, Publicity Officer, Lingerie Designer, Retail Training Consultant /Work Place Trainer and Assessor

Favourite or most inspirational place?

Matlock Bath there is nowhere in the world I would rather be than Matlock Bath, what’s not to love? Bikers, chips, cafes, amusement arcades, alpine like scenery, rivers, fish ponds, spas, pubs ,cable cars, adventure playgrounds, theme parks, a band stand ,quiet walks, noisy footpaths and gift shops . If I’ve forgotten anything please add!

What is your dream project?

To be asked by a local council to paint their town for their council chambers and be paid for it!

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

The artistic life I lead is anything but lonely I learnt early on that being an artist is boring if you do it by yourself it is essential that you get out and about and network with other creatives, I love meeting up with and working with other artists and I absolutely love helping other artists get on by giving advice or assistance. My favourite thing is setting them up on social media and this now forms part of my business.

What do you dislike about the art world?

Galleries that talk money, not just high prices but low as well, when I have walked into galleries and the owner has described the work by its price tag first I know I will not be able to work with that gallery. Because to me a good gallery talks about the work and its meaning, is passionate about the piece not the price. Money does not come in to it I think allow the customer to enjoy the work and learn about it. They will buy it if they want it or walk away wishing they could… but to introduce art as a price is not a good practice.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

When I started out in my first job my boss said be nice to those on your way up as you may need them on the way down! This is something I try to apply in my whole life as sometimes we are up and thriving and other times we are back where we have started. I have been made redundant, made homeless, burgled you name it but I have also been on TV and flown about in aircraft to get to appointments and lived in wonderful homes too. So I try to treat everyone I meet with respect and remember where I started and who gave me the breaks, I may be able to give them a break in the future. Just be nice!

Ruth Gray Images  Fine Art Landscapes - Anything But Grey.
Thank you for reading this blog! For the last year I have had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with some wonderful Friends of Studio 61 Gallery. 2014 is shaping up to be even better with some fantastic UK artists and designers lined up for the exhibition programmes, I look forward to sharing their work with you.