Passion for Art
February
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February 2012
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2012
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Selected works from the
38th Annual Fine Arts Exhibition
Can you briefly give us a little insight into your background as an artist, and what inspires the artist within you?

I have asked myself many times what makes me an artist. I know that this is what I am since I am a creative individual, paint pumps through my veins and no matter what I do in life I will do it with artistic flair!


Was it your intention to become a professional fine artist while you were attending art school?

I knew that I wanted to be a visual artist at school, creating art is what I enjoy doing and to me is like breathing!


What were you painting at that time?

While studying at Southampton University Winchester School of Art for my BA(Hons) degree I was going through a lot of trying times in my personal life. Therefore my paintings at that time were mainly about my family. These were exhibited in Washington D.C and classed as Pop-Surrealism. To me, it felt as if someone was reading pages from my private diary.


How long have you been working professionally as an artist?

It was my father who bought me my first set of oil paints when I was 11. I started professionally in 1992 so 20 years later and thousands of tubes of paint I am still enjoying my work!


How did you initially start? Was it a slow process of transformation into an artist?

On completion of high school becoming an artist was a necessity! There were limited opportunities in my home town of South Africa so I created my own business by painting shop fronts, signage and murals. I supplemented this by also creating paintings of South African Flora and Fauna. These works I then sold to tourist at Greenpoint Stadium Market and the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town!


Have you had any difficult periods surviving as an artist?

Oh so many...difficulties are part and parcel of becoming an artist. Rejection letters, people doubting you and you doubting yourself. I remember one day, it was midsummer about 40įC in South Africa, it was soul destroying watching tourists admire the paintings I had for sale but then simply walked away without purchasing. I desperately needed to sell because I used my last money to pay for the stand! Then at the very end of the day he comes back and buys all the paintings! It transpired that he was an Art Dealer and from then on I had a steady order for two paintings a week! Thank God! Giving up is not an option...persevere with the talents God gave and you will be a success!


How long did it take you to develop your own style? Have you struggled with that?

My style is ever evolving. The initial idea stems from my Degree Thesis on Fiber arts when I studied the works of Louise Bourgeois amongst others. I was fascinated with the task of sewing which is a very female orientated skill! I wanted to combine this with the more formal discipline of painting; hence what you see today in my multi layered stitched paintings!


Can you tell us something about your paintings?

Bahrain is a fine example of co-existence with so many different cultures together in one melting pot. Add a good dose of history combined with modernity and what you have is a very interesting amalgamation. I am inspired to show these layers so my paintings are mix of yesterday, today and tomorrow.


How do you begin working on a new piece? Do you have a set procedure, or a routine to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally when you begin a new work?

Starting a painting is a struggle! I do extensive research beforehand so that I understand my subjectís history. I then paint a conventional painting which I cut up. I then play around with the composition before I stitch the pieces back together again creating an accumulation of sorts.


How long does it take to complete an artwork?

Once I get over the initial obstacles of painting I donít stop. I use special resin based Oil Paint which dries overnight! This spares me from the anguish of watching paint dry. I am not good at waiting! I remember once working in London, I was in a hurry and the paint didn't want to dry in the wet cold English weather! So I placed the painting on a radiator to dry only to return later with all the oil paint melted! In situations like these crying doesn't help, learning from mistakes is part of being an artist.


Do people want to go and touch it?

I love a person touching the paintings, thatís why I have made them tactile!


What have been the most surprising responses you've received in relation to your works?

I am not very good at accepting complements I seem to handle constructive criticism better.


How do you personally measure the success of a work? What are you most proud of?

I am never satisfied with a painting I always think I can do something better, improve on some part of the work. Success to me is overcoming a difficult task and implementing what I have learned on future projects! 


What would you say is the most important thing about art and art-making youíve learnt in the years since you left the university and started working as a professional artist?

I have learned that the art world is fickle and that it isn't necessarily good art that sells in Galleries! Sometimes artist use titillation and over political shock art to sell their work! Rather be true to yourself, the trend brigade is easy to join but at the end what would you be left with? Be an individual and respect the Artists that came before you!


How long have you lived in Bahrain and what inspired your move to here?

I have been in Bahrain now for 4 years. To me Bahrain is unique! The contrast in this country inspires and motivates me to create!


Has living and working in Bahrain challenged or influenced the way you create art?

Bahrain is a challenging place for a professional artist! In England I did most of my research at Galleries and going to Art libraries but here in Bahrain I mainly depend on the internet for my information which is not always ideal!

Bahrain has the potential, with some forward thinking to become a leader in the Middle East art scene, but it has to start with the young. Art appreciation is a must in education!


How do you handle the business side of being an artist especially here in Bahrain?

Every commission and painting is as unique as the people who ordered them so flexibility is a must in the business of being a professional artist.


Finally, what ideas or issues do you feel are currently influencing your work? Any exhibition plans?

My plans for the future are varied! I just finished illustrating a guide book about Bahrain which, God Willing will be launched in the coming months! I also created a comic book about a Bahraini Super Hero which needs some tweaking before I can show it to the public! I would love to have a local exhibition still this year with Bahraini artists plus mentoring young artist in Bahrain is also envisaged for the near future! Bahrain is a diamond in the rough and I am privileged enough to watch the art scene in Bahrain grow!
Anna Leanda
Thackray
One on One with
A professional artist residing in Bahrain shares her artistic journey in an interview with artbahrain
"Bahrain is a diamond in the rough and I am privileged enough to watch the art scene in Bahrain grow!"