As you may be aware from previous blog posts, we are extremely pleased to be Toovey’s Antique and Fine Art Auctioneers nominated charity this year. Twelve works by Outside In Award Winners will be auctioned on the morning of Wednesday 3 December, and you are able to bid online if you are unable to make it to the event. Follow this link to view the works and bid online (Outside In works are lots 1 – 12).
Below is an interview with artist Phil Baird, whose piece ‘Bring your own television’ will be going to auction on 3 December.
What first inspired you to take up art?
I have always enjoyed making things since a child, although I didn’t have much concept of art as such but loved colour and the countryside and animals as I grew up on a farm. My Grandfather was a craftsman wood worker. He carved me a small wooden model boat and would draw small portraits of characters from the theatre and politics. My efforts at the time were minimal and I can remember the frustration of the process. My Mother would occasionally help me, as she was an accomplished china painter, and I was fascinated with her ceramic painting pigments that were contained in tiny vitamin bottles. She also did clay portrait busts and cat sculptures.
How long have you been making art for?
I began seriously making art at about 14 although there were not many great successful pieces. A drawing, a print and a slab built vessel were not much to base my career on! However, being an artist is a lifelong pursuit and we have to start with what we have, and where we are. I attended a link course at Halifax Art school, 42 years ago and then to a full time Art Foundation course for two years where my horizons broadened to include more idea based work. I have continued interests from those days particularly pottery that I still collect and research. I also try to create these drawings in a craftsman like way so there is a mixture of Ideas expression, learnt skills and a sort of organic awkwardness.
Has your process changed since the beginning?
There are distinct areas or genres of my work that are like mini dynasties that reoccur over the decades. My works have become more organised largely due to printmaking processes and procedures: etching for the drawings and silkscreen for colour work. I worked for several years at the old Deptford Community print shop, where I learnt how to layer colour hues and over print. Some of the making process remains similar; the slow build-up of the image or mood and an overall idea for each piece with lots of smaller ideas within the work. These form a narrative to be followed through as a story, encouraging the viewer to input with their own imagination to complete the picture for themselves.
Could you talk about the process behind your current work – from initial idea to final piece?
A major part of my work over the past decade has been The Simple Complex Drawings, one of which is featured in this Auction. The series is made up of predominantly black and white ink drawings on rough watercolour paper. I have had a book published with some of the key drawings in which “Bring your own Television” is featured. Currently I am working on small works on post cards using spirit pen colour and black ink. I often work in a similar way with differing subject matter; from abstract still lifes and collaged tea card collections to drawn environments.
How do you decide when a piece is finished?
A piece is finished when the work is done. It is difficult to describe this moment. I suppose there comes a point when it has to be finished or given up with, when there is nothing further to add. Some works are abandoned in the early stages and seem complete none the less. Other works go through many stages of transformation and become heavily worked “presentation” drawings such as “Bring your own television.”
What influences your work?
I am influenced by art making in itself and the materials that I choose. Additionally I am inspired by personal autobiographical details, stories and memories, and the work of other kindred artists.
How would you describe your work in one sentence?
I will have to think about that!
Can you tell us about ‘Bring your own television’?
The title for this work comes from an incident in my late twenties, where I headed for the hills in a refugee like adventure to Drumnagowan; a small croft near Glenfincastle in Scottish Perthshire. I was working as a volunteer as on organic farms. A fellow worker who had also travelled to Scotland from London had brought his own television! We shared a caravan, our billets in the small homestead taken up with paying guests. There is also a tent depicted as this also depicts a memory of a time when my family moved to Yorkshire from Scotland in my early teens and a friend and myself camped out at Bishopdale in the Yorkshire Dales. You can also see rural pursuits from times gone by, such as a heavy horse ploughing.
What do you hope the audience get when looking at your work?
I hope that there is an initial impact or immediate motif that attracts the viewer to search, inquire further and to bring their own references, ponderings and musings to my creations.
Do you have a favourite artist?
There are many but particularly the painter poets David Jones and William Blake.