Jana Nicole Conway

Portrait of artist Jana Nicole Conway by Antoinette Haselhorst
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

The bright yellows, pinks and blues trick you when you look at Jana Nicole’s work, purely for the reason that they resonate an instantaneous feeling of being happy.  Until you look closer, in this illusion lies the complex, because the beautiful is in all its variety.  The femme fatale almost invisible inside the tiger or the temptress lurking within the zebra, she explores the power of womanhood within the gentle realms of innocence.  Don’t be fooled by the birds of paradise the colourful butterflies and flowers.  Jana Nicole tours the role of femininity, the narrative is powerful, and tender, for as well as being a warrior, it is about surviving and nurturing.  As a lioness hunts for her kill with all the ruthless stealth she can muster, she returns to feed and lovingly nurture her young.  Jana Nicole explores the conversation of war, survival, grief and family in her unique mixed media artworks.  I read a quote recently that said, ’To Live is Art.’ 

Collage artwork
Animal Attraction Georgie by Jana Nicole Conway
Collage artwork by Jana Nicole Conway
Animal Attraction Nakoda by Jana Nicole Conway

Originally from Chicago, then moving to Ohio, Palm Springs in California, then a boarding school in Arizona, riding her horse in the Verde Valley amongst the Indian burial grounds and red rocks of the American country.  The quintessential rebel American hippy cowgirl.  Her work reflects the heartstrings of her home country with the international spirit of the modern woman.  Jana Nicole is familiar with a world of being raised by her mother after her parents parted, spending holidays with her father, where she was sent to art collage with 18 year old students whilst she was 12, to keep her busy.  The women in my family were very creative women she explains.  Having a close relationship with her mother who ran a business as an interior designer, she says; “Who was there to guide not lecture”.  Jana Nicole’s time in boarding school was geared to what you wanted to do, classes in art and ceramics . 

Mixed Media artwork by Jana Nicole Conway
Boats Razzle Dazzle by Jana Nicole Conway
Mixed Media Artwork
Land of the Three by Jana Nicole Conway

At 16 she moved back to Ohio, as she describes, a young punk to live with her father and stepmother.  The independent child suddenly amongst the preppy community of Cincinnati, Jana Nicole struggled within the strong house rules and conservative community.  She developed a close relationship with her Art teacher, and made contact with old friends she had known during her reception years at school.  Jana Nicole then followed her passion and went to University in Los Angeles to the American college to study art.  This University also took her to London as part of her degree.  When she returned to Los Angeles, she moved in with friends, James Hickox whose mother is legendary Oscar winner Anne V Coates, in the film industry; “Living with the Brit Brat Pack” Jana Nicole explains.  She started her career path working in wardrobe for Horror Films, as well as painting and making sculptures in her spare time. Making money creating costumes for low budget films, including ‘Return of the Living Dead 3’ which won an award for wardrobe.  She met her husband, film producer Richard Conway, during this time.  We were friends and flatmates at the time, she clarifies.

Collage artwork by Jana Nicole Conway
Animal Attraction Betty by Jana Nicole Conway
Collage artwork by Jana Nicole Conway
Animal Attraction Suki by Jana Nicole Conway

A career in wardrobe no longer seemed financially economical, so Jana Nicole became a personal assistant to Madonna, working for Freddy DeMann, she smiles as she tells me that her primary job was sorting through fan mail.  Some of it completely crazy she explains, a lot of the mail went to Gavin de Becker, all part of security.  All this time whilst her finger was on the pulse, Jana Nicole kept on painting and sculpting.  Already ahead of her time, she went onto become a gaming designer for computer games for Fox media.  Working at the time with computer programmers whilst she worked on the creative side, for games such as Mr Jeeters, Junkyard Dog and the Power Rangers.  She was fortunate to be able to move to London because of this job. 

Mixed Media artwork
NC Games by Jana Nicole Conway
Collage artwork
A to Z of Cereals by Jana Nicole Conway

In 2000 Jana Nicole married her husband Richard.  However, when she became pregnant, she was made redundant.  The industry had changed Jana Nicole explains, designers were now computer programmers as well creatives. Her time during Motherhood, also became an opportunity for her to concentrate on her own art.  Exhibiting in Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Brighton, Lewes, Soho London, as well as the Art Fairs.  Raising their three children, the family eventually moved out of London, and settled in the countryside in the South Downs of England.  Jana Nicole found the perfect location for both her and her husband to work and raise a family.  It’s all about space.  They live in an eclectic home, that itself has a creative history in literature and politics. The home once owned by Admiral John Godfrey, has had very interesting visitors.  Ian Fleming who resided in the house to write his James Bond novels.  Winston Churchill visited as Operation Mincemeat was being orchestrated, by the secret service during World War II.

Sculpture Artwork featured in CAKE Contemporary Art Keen Enthusiast
Three Figures The Tribe by Jana Nicole Conway
Mixed Media Artwork by Jana Nicole Conway
9/11 by Jana Nicole Conway

It all ties up when you peruse Jana Nicole’s work, every detail, from her 9/11 artwork which is covered in human ash to her Cereals, the mystique of her work is tied up in the playful.  The toy soldiers, the games, the colourful packets, the elements that fool us to believe all is bright in this world and that it is just a game that we earthlings are playing, and yet the price can sometimes be somewhat earth shattering.  Then we pick up the pieces and start all over again. 

Portrait of artist Jana Nicole Conway by Antoinette Haselhorst
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

  

Emily Kirby

photo portrait artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

There is something infinitely unique about African art, it’s a combination of so many cultures, diverse but always with this thread of the semi abstract running through.  Emily’s work references to all this, with an edge all of her own.  Whether it’s the way she uses colour or her brush strokes, that convey that expression in one simple swift movement.  It’s Fauvism and Africa, because of the emotion her work portrays, in the depth and choice of her colours along with the abstract.  Her portrayal of the unobserved, the mystique of what is a portrait.  Her works convey the emotion of earth, and sunset, drought and flood, the heat of what it is to be African, once you have been to Africa, its in your heart and it never leaves you.  There is something so unparalleled and unique about this continent’s art, from the Spanish and Arabian influences up in the North to the more tribal wood carvings from central Africa and the earlier ancestors from the sandstone art created by the Bushmen on rocks in the southern part of the continent.  These energies are reflected in Emily’s Polar bear artwork, with the hues of a pink sunset, or her rhino in the light of the early morning, or the woman whose emotions are reflected in the contrasting colourful earthy hues.

painting artwork polar bear
Between Your World and Mine by Emily Kirby

 

Abstract painting art
Zambezi Dancer X by Emily Kirby

Emily was born in Zambia in a missionary hospital, it was during the time when Zimbabwe was going through a civil war effecting neighbouring Zambia, that her mother often had to hide baby Emily in a basket in the car.  Her father from Zambia and her mother from England, the family decided to come to the UK when Emily was three.  They moved to a chicken farm in Sussex.  However Emily’s dad, did not get on with England, Emily explains, and her parents parted whilst the rest of the family stayed in the UK with their mother, moving to a house outside of Brighton.

Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Emily started a degree in sports science, initially afraid to pursue a career as an artist, the rest of her family are academics, so she thought it would be a tough career choice, even though she was always passionate about it.  Her father and grandmother are artists, so Emily eventually changed her mind, took an Art Foundation and pursued her career as an artist.   She met her wife Laura, a midwife in 2007, and they both decided to travel together, bought a van and adventured around Europe.  Then, dumping the van, boarding a plane and heading off to Ethiopia.  Here she went to see the tribes in the south of the country, iconic images resonated of people in warm reds against the ochres and warm greens.  That collection formed the basis of a lot of her work.  The two of them then traveled on to Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania, where they both settled on the island off Zanzibar for a short while, and Emily set up her first studio.  She exhibited at the 37D Gallery in Lusaka with renowned artist Pam Guhrs – Carr, this being one of the highlights of her career, Emily informs me, beaming her sparkling smile.

painting art abstract
Nude by Emily Kirby
abstract painting bird
Hornbill by Emily Kirby

 If the travel bug was not big enough already, Emily and her partner are fortunate they can travel and live anywhere, her partner is a midwife, so they can both freely move about.  So following their educational experiences in Europe and Africa.  They decided to leave Zanzibar and moved back to Brighton briefly in 2008, and Emily made her first major collection of work. Emily mentions her Stepmother Radu Tesaro; emphasising the enormous impact she had on her career, just a couple of years older, along with being a huge mentor and friend, enabled Emily to have her first joint exhibition in Prague.  This is where her career took off and she sold a lot of her work.  Then taking another leap, the jet-set couple, decided on a move to London and a studio in Hackney for five years, and then jet set off to live in Spain, three years in Madrid, with a huge studio, near the Plaza Mayor.

painting abstract art
Zambezi Dancer VIII by Emily Kirby

 

painting abstract art
Boy from Kochi by Emily Kirby

The art scene in Spain was not as nurturing though and with a stronger collector base in the UK they decided to head back to Brighton for the next chapter, a few months in and Emily has already exhibited at the The Other Art Fair at the Truman Brewery in London and held a joint exhibition in Shoreditch with South African Artist Peter Mammes.  To date Emily has exhibited in Dubai, Lusaka , New York, Prague, London, Bristol and Cambridge.  

Abstract painting wildlife
On the Edge by Emily Kirby

Emily’s cosmopolitan lifestyle shows in her work, she is an observer, taking a quick snap with her camera, without the person knowing.  Then painting the portrait, it is the photographing the person when they are unaware, it’s not that she is not interested in who the person actually is.  She prefers to work with the energy they convey and likes to use the abstract to convey this.  She will layer up, but leave the abstract underneath.  It’s her own interpretation of energy, she emphasises to me.  Passing on an impression of a moment, that objective of an artist to project their interpretation.  In the beginning you are the one with the power, and then it starts to take a life of its own, she explains. 

Portrait photography artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

 

David Millidge

portrait photo cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

If you imagine an Egyptian queen, or a monarch of the future in a galaxy far far away.  Or, another universe next door to ours, or closer to home, every religion depicted at a dinner table, including the atheist.  Or, maybe visiting deep into oceans below, to the gentle flow and movement of the tentacles from living coral.  All this created in David’s ceramic artworks.  David’s sculptures are the breathtakingly unordinary, so powerfully different, yet encapsulating the smoothness and elegance of ceramics like you haven’t seen before.  His sculptures are; as he describes sometimes a pastiche, taking inspiration from things like, car crash dummies, wooden artists models or puppets. They resonate mathematics, science, nature, sci-fi, religion and history.  A horse made with 22 separate pieces, the intricate saddle alone decorated with over 800 coloured and glazed ceramic cubes.  Each artwork created by individual and separate ceramic moulds.  Sometimes his work using cubes, ball shapes, halos, the effect reminding me of subatomic particles, in gold, royal blue and molten red.  His busts make me think of Queen Nefertiti, Cleopatra, Aphrodite or alternatively, Star Wars and Blade Runner, it’s sci-fi and history and everything else in between.

ceramic Sculpture artwork
Heather Yellow Cubes by David Millidge
sculpture ceramics cake
Red Faced Man by David Millidge
Ceramic Artwork CAKE
Reef ‘Flesh’ by David Millidge

David is from Essex and tells me he has an east end accent.  He is surprised I haven’t detected it.  He graduated from a degree in Sculpture at Central Saint Martins at 21, however he didn’t consider a career as an artist at the time but started a business as a market trader selling shoes.  With this business he continued, eventually importing and building a successful company working with the likes of Vivienne Westwood.  He used his creative skills in marketing he tells me.  Then 45 years later after raising his family and retiring from the business world of shoes, his life took a different direction.  He dabbled in photography and then worked on some paintings, which are brilliant, by the way.  He explains that he doesn’t believe he has a particular talent as a painter but rather a patient one.  I beg to differ.  His painting of Jesus looking like a Kurt Cobain is particular striking, although it was not intended to be a look alike.  However, he decided to embark on a local ceramic class, which he still attends, and he was hooked.  Now he has his own studio and kiln.

Ceramic Sculpture CAKE
Rene Blue/ Pewter Hair By David Millidge
Ceramic Sculpture CAKE
Rene Red/Cream Necklace by David Millidge
ceramic sculpture artwork
Heather Gold by David Millidge

His artworks, are not small, ‘The Last Supper’ measuring 205×60 cm and each figure depicting a different faith created with 24 separate pieces for each of the 13 figures present.  As we talk about this artwork, the sculpture that often gets most of the attention; David explains, how he joined a christian art group when he started out in ceramics, purely for the reason that he finds religious art very interesting. “But I am an atheist,” he exclaims, “an atheist who is fascinated by religious art”.  All the figures in his Last Supper represent the  faiths including Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Atheism.  This piece of artwork is the one that has generated a lot of interest because of its narrative.  His other works in the same style all encapsulating a very different conversation, the kneeling man, Jesus in the arms of his mother, the lovers kissing.  Then there are his beautiful busts of women, all sculpted from models, photographed from different angles, the same mould used for several separate artworks, the unsymmetrical effect of the glazes creating a unique effect each time.  Some of his works, David emphasises, are simply one or two shapes that evolve into something complex. He doesn’t decide what it’s going to look like, the finish is always a surprise to him.

ceramic sculpture artwork
The Last Supper by David Millidge

 

ceramic Sculpture artwork
The Kiss by David Millidge
Horse by David Millidge

In the five years that David has been working as an artist, he has exhibited at Braxted Essex, Hatfield House and Mayfair London, including The Art Fair at the Truman Brewery.   He tells me of the joy and pleasure he feels in customers’ faces when they purchase his works, as they hold the artwork like a baby and how happy it makes them.  Regularly selling smaller pieces, however he did sell the centre piece of his solo show for £4,500.00.   We talk about other artists and concept art which is trending for a while now, nevertheless as with all art there will be a narrative.  David regularly visits galleries and exhibitions, often travelling abroad.  It takes his attention to a different level, and there is great creativity going on, he explains.  He noticed that in Hong Kong they have a different approach to art exhibitions.  It’s a family day out, relaxed and enjoyed, whereas he thinks in the UK it’s more stuffy middle class.

Ceramic sculpture art
Reef Sculpture by David Millidge
sculpture art ceramics
Red Matrix 3 by David Millidge

David is knowledgeable in every way, when it comes to artists from Grayson Perry to Jeff Koons and Tracey Emin.  Maybe it is time we felt more relaxed about art and creativity and that it isn’t just about being part of an exclusive club, but about enjoyment and buying what you love.  David’s work is contemporary in every way, after all his creativity had been laying dormant, we are in for a treat.  His three sons have all followed their father’s footsteps, all of them are artists, a musician, a 3d artist and his eldest, an indie app designer who recently won a BAFTA  Breakthrough Brit award for a computer game. David may have been a business man raising his family, however creativity clearly being an essential part of who they are.

Photography portrait artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Olivier Leger

portrait photography cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

When you think of landscape and nature you will undoubtedly think of our present situation and preservation of our environment, planet earth and the way forward to protect it.  The connection between everything living from our solar systems, as planets orbit around the sun, rain cloud formations, water droplets falling into flowing rivers as they journey out to oceans full of life. Tides lick the shores of land, abundant with all that inhabit it.  Olivier’s work is an exploration of all this, encapsulated in his intricate and explorative artworks.

Artwork art illustration
Blue Whale by Olivier Leger

These illustrations are intimate and complex from the tiniest details, to be all part of the bigger picture, and I mean literally.  These huge dynamic drawings are hours with a small tipped pen and ink, a maze of mystery and detail that you can stare at them for hours forever finding something.  Whether intended to be there like the deep sea diver finding treasure, Jupiter cosmically appearing amongst the shoal of marine life or your own imaginings amongst the swirls and shapes of an illustrative cosmos; his works have you lost.  The whale with its own Eco system, a community of interacting organisms, floating like a planet through white space.  His imaginations take you on a journey, his concepts, the details of his artworks are breath taking.

artwork illustration art
Seahorse by Olivier Leger

As Olivier’s interest in marine life, animals and eco systems has turned his passion to a maze of intricate worlds all built into a solar system of detail.  His doodles could have remained a child-like fantasy of escape, however this young man didn’t just doodle in his school books, as A Levels in Chemistry, Biology and Art and then moving on to a fine art degree will testify.  His doodles and ideas in his head, started with him putting the illustrations on Facebook and getting such a good response from his friends that he eventually started to create these giant detailed artworks.

Illustration art artists
Treasures of the Deep by Olivier Leger

The time spent on them sometimes taking up to six months of intricate illustration and penmanship. He is a natural draftsman, sketching his concept confidently with swift movements in pencil and then creating the whole finely tuned picture.

illustration details
Close-up details of Treasures of the Deep by Olivier Leger
illustration details cake
Close-up details of Treasures of the Deep by Olivier Leger

Olivier was born in London Ontario, Canada, and moved to the UK when still a toddler. His mother is French and he speaks French, his father a retired university lecturer, a childhood in the beautiful Leicestershire countryside, where he still lives. What surprises me about Olivier is his gentle mannerism and eloquent command of the elegant English language, he has a humble demeanour, but don’t be deceived. This man has the self confidence to sell his own work and turn his artworks into a business. His first job after graduating at University was working in a shop selling video and computer games, an experience which he credits with teaching him how to sell.

artwork illustration art
Turtle by Olivier Leger

He now sells both original works and prints that he produces himself, and I am talking top of the range digital printing, his studio has state of the art scanners and computers. Olivier is mindful of the impact his business makes on the environment, for example trying to reduce the use of plastic where possible. “The way you live your life has an impact on the natural world around you” he tells me. “Remembering that helps me continually revaluate the choices I make, to try and live more sustainably”.

illustration artworks cake
Tortue Geniale by Olivier Leger

How it all started in 2013, when he completed his 1.5 metre artwork, the Eco-planet whale, ‘Sacre Bleu Baleine’, which he sold immediately.  Since then he has exhibited at art fairs around the country, with his awe-inspiring collection. Leger’s respect for nature is all too apparent, as an artist he expresses this, however his knowledge of science and biology and the amazement he has for nature. “Did you know a sperm whale dives two kilometres underwater, that is a lot of pressure” and then he calculates the atmospheric pressure in his head. He tells me about the power of adaptation, evolutionary trajectory, and the way an octopus feels, hunts and tastes things with its arms, or how the mantis shrimp punches its prey. Olivier questions it all, how the creatures come to be, it fascinates him, that’s why all his animals are planets, because the planet is so alive.

artwork illustration art
Humpback Whale by Olivier Leger

A self-confessed geek and sci-fi fan, we end our chat as we talk about his hero Elon Musk, and how he works a 100 hour week. Then he tells me has a lion drawing to start on, that he is hoping will help raise money for wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation.

portrait photography artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Teresa Wells MRSS

Photography portrait artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

There is something elfish about Teresa’s life size bronze sculptures. Especially when you think about the material she uses. Solid and heavy and yet her artworks are a contradiction to the heavy metal. The compositions of her sculptures portray the effervescent joy of movement, the leaping and pouncing of a nymph like creature or the strength and power of human performance at its best. Yet, there is something magical about the survivor Viktorya, Teresa’s dancer with one leg, with the spiked prosthetic doing the splits whilst standing on her hands, the capriciousness of Narcissus, resting on his haunches as if about to dive into the water below as he gazes at his reflection, and the delicate Liberty leaping in the air with her back arched in a graceful motion like a trapeze artist flying through the air.  All emphasising the anthropology and beauty of the human form at its most ultimate.

Sculpture Bonze artwork
Narcissus, by Teresa Wells
Sculpture Bronze artist
Viktoryia, by Teresa Wells
sculpture bronze artwork
Liberty, by Teresa Wells

Her earlier works and smaller sculptures are just as fascinating, raise the narrative what it is to be human, with complex sets and story telling. Compelling and surreal artworks, involving sculpture within a miniature set. Her film director, directing a murder on the beach. The artist painting a family, the lonely couple dining at the tall and long table. Or the mother wearing artificial reality glasses as she breast-feeds.

sculpture artwork cake
Happy anniversary, by Teresa Wells
sculpture film set artwork
Hashtag Tragedy, by Teresa Wells
Sculpture art artworks
Madonna and child, by Teresa Wells
portrait photo artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

The psychology is evident, for as I get to know Teresa it all makes sense. All her work is based on the theme survival, a remarkable woman who understands this all too well. She raised her first child, her daughter practically by herself. The tiny infant born with congenital defects, had her first open heart surgery at just 12 days old, with a brave mother who continued to witness her daughter experience many operations before her 22 birthday. The girl, who has a zest for life and has earned heartfelt respect from her mother. Teresa gave birth to her second child, her son, nine years after her daughter was born, he was diagnosed quite late with Asperger syndrome. Before diagnoses, she tied to deal with a confused and awkward boy, who struggled at a mainstream school. She raised him with unique parenting methods and proudly tells me how he has achieved seven GCSEs and recently passed his driving license. She additionally took a break from full time work when her son was six to home school him. All this, whilst Teresa was working to pay the bills, finishing two degrees in Fine Art plus a masters in art and design.

photography artist portrait
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

“I encourage independence” she tells me whilst driving me around the countryside from Northampton to Rugby. “We are all dealt things in life and we all have to do things we don’t want to do, we just have to do it”. This petite lady is powerful and driven and very focused. Teresa loved drawing and making from a very early age, her foundation was in Art and Design in Colchester, this is where she discovered 3 dimensional work and started head modelling in clay and life drawing.  She received a First in BA Honours in Fine Art in Nottingham University, her focus was on sculpture, steel, stitching, riveting, plasma cutting and welding. Working with mixed media, the sensuousness of fabrics against the cold statement of metal. Her academic influence was derived from her interest in studying social anthropology, and the work of participant anthropologists like Mary Douglas.

sculpture artwork art
30 July, by Teresa Wells
sculpture artwork cake
The Last Judgement of Empathic Ability in a Technological Age, by Teresa Wells

She is currently working on commissions, as well as a BBC Television documentary featuring her work. We talk about working with Bronze and how it came about. Previously for five years between 2012 and 2017 Teresa worked on mixed media, having won an award from Richard Deacon CBE, with 3000 entries in 2015. 

bronze sculpture artworks
Desire and Denial by Teresa Wells

She met artist William Tucker who suggested she work in Bronze, with that she met up with a friend and fine artist Paul Kennedy who introduced her to bronze casting and she fell in love with the process. She began a residency at his foundry in Shropshire and learnt everything from him she tells me.  Teresa admits to me that she is super focused, passionate and driven to the exclusion of everything else, in one year she made nine bronzes including assisting in the completion of a 10 foot sculpture.

Sculpture art bronze
The Kiss that Freed a Thousand Dreams by Teresa Wells
sculpture artwork art
Division by Teresa Wells
clay sculpture art
Commissioned portrait: Clay sculpture before it goes through the process of becoming a bronze artwork, by Teresa Wells

To appreciate this you have to understand the complexity of the method that takes your breath away, never mind the cost.  The clay sculpture has to be made first, afterwards it is covered in liquid rubber, when that has solidified, it is covered in fibreglass resin. The original clay form is removed and then the rubber filled with melted wax, just a few millimetres in thickness.  It’s worth it to have a look at some of the videos on the internet, the lost wax process for Bronze sculpture. It will make anyone have a new called appreciation of the thousand year art form.  Teresa is showing me around her studio, explaining the methodology to me, I am imploding with curiosity. However the art world is tough and as we come to the end of our interview she talks about provenance, exclaiming it would be the key to the successes of artists like Damien Hirst.  With Teresa’s intention and purpose this clearly has already happened.

photography portrait artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Giacomo Bevanati

portrait of artist Giacamo Bevanati
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Come and join the masked ball with silver birds and bull masks, golden pineapples and teapots, silver top hats and golden pigs. Walts down the runway as your own kind of unicorn, dance to your own tune as a horned bird or centaur with any of these elaborate contemporary works of art.  Wear them, dress them or leave them displayed, reflecting light and casting shadows.  For these art sculptures are made from sewn and hand stitched silver and brass wire. The golden face masks showing just your eyes or a step further the devils style mask and black bird mask and head dress or the long laced collar and the chameleon head in woven gold. I can see the future of a Venetian night out, wearing a long night cape or gown and these modern artworks by Italian born artist Giacomo.  He takes it a step further in some cases, some of the sculptures can be worn as an elaborate display like a peacock for any grand entrance.

Artworks photography artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst
artwork sculpture brass wire
Artwork: Giacomo Bevanati
sculptures venetian masks artwork
Artwork: Giacomo Bevanati

I am amazed at this man’s work, he just completed a commission for a dance production titled “I Know Not These My Hands”, creating detachable costumes as part of the choreography in the dance.  Working a lot with dancers and artists, Giacomo collaborates creating a futuristic artists utopia. Some of the sculptures can be displayed, like his tea set, or the hat and pipe, I particularly like his pig, or the huge pineapple all recently exhibited in Hong Kong with the Singapore Art Garret Gallery.  For our interview me meet in a coffee shop by day, and nightclub by night in Brick Lane, just small walk from the city of London.  I love how artists and bankers all coexist next to each other.  As you walk the trendy streets turn the corner and stand looking at the high rises of the city of London.

Venetian mask wire sculpture
Artwork: Giacomo Bevanati, Photo: Jo Fetto
photography artist artworks cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

We start talking about Foligno a beautiful town in Umbria, Italy, famous for its Renaissance and Baroque architecture and art, the town when Giacomo was born and raised, and where his family live and work. Giacomo studied Product Design in Florence for three years, after graduating with a Bachelors he decided to expand and study for a Masters in Architecture in Rome for four years. He worked as an Architect in his home town for one year.  However he felt stressed and claustrophobic, he explains. 

Sculpture artwork venetian mask
Artwork: Giacomo Bevanati, Photo: Jo Fetto

He surprises me when he tells me that choosing a career as an artist is frowned upon in Italy.  However his choice to become an artist, came when he was cleaning up his dorm room and came across a lamp he had left abandoned, he had made whilst at University with wire.  He reconnected with the Brass and Steel wires and started to build works of art.  A self taught process of sewing with wire, he did this for himself as a form of therapy to explore the world he reveals.  He felt he could do whatever he wanted.  Starting with Jewellery and then the masks, even weaving a rose window, and winning a prize in 2015.

Photography portrait artist artworks
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Giacomo has come along way since then, his evolution came when he moved from Umbria to London, working in a coffee shop in Fulham Broadway, he couldn’t speak a word of English. That didn’t stop him. Today, three and half years later, I am talking to him in English, as he fluently explains his career story to me. How he fell in love with the city, and rented himself a small room, how he decided to believe in himself, and locked himself away as he moved from jewellery to masks and sculptures, combining the two. He dedicated himself to his work, purchasing his specific type of wire from Italy with his frequent visits back home.  Interacting with the world to try and explain his art, after researching his field he finally decided to show and exhibit his work.

Venetian masks, artworks photography
Artworks: Giacomo Bevanati, Photo: Jo Fetto
Brass wire Jewellery artwork
Artwork: Giacomo Bevanati, Photo: Jo Fetto
Venetian mask, artwork Sculpture
Artwork: Giacomo Bevanati Photo:Irina Mattioli

One of his earlier Exhibitions in London, was at the New Artist Fair at the famous Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. His simple structure of placing his wire sculptures on a mirror, allowing the artworks to do their own work. This display of beautifully hand woven sculptures, letting them play with light reflection and shape, is what makes his work so alluring. The feedback has taken him to where he is now. Exhibitions include, the Tate Modern for three days collaborating with Westminster University; The Venice Biennale, in all, eight exhibitions so far, London, Cologne and the Asia Contemporary Art Show in Hong Kong.  Along with commissions, he is currently working on masks for Contemporary dancers. 

Brass wire Sculpture artwork
Artwork: Giacomo Bevanati
brass and silver wire sculpture artworks
Artwork: Giacomo Bevanati

His work was recently the focus for a documentary ‘Metal Love’ featured at the East End Film Festival in 2018.  He is happy to show his technique, however what it means to be an artist; there is driving force of trust, emotion and letting go, along with all the insecurities. It’s not an easy journey because it doesn’t hold guarantees and security. We talk about his family in Italy and he describes a wonderful traditional family and the food industry back home and lightly joke and laugh. He listens and is fluid to any creative thought put before him, taking it to somewhere else. Then as a true gentleman he walks me back to Liverpool Street station and sees me off.

photography artist artworks cakes
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

A special thank-you, to all our guests, Alba Sala, Ramon Mota Davalos, Candice Olds-Tserliangos and Angelina Mota Davalos.

 

Hugh Fleetwood

portrait photography cake artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

I find Hugh’s artworks are anecdotes of the human condition, his paintings encapsulating some of the mysteries, the complexities of life and nature. They are captivating, almost abstract explorations of that condition, and however complex their meaning, however confusing the emotions and behaviour portrayed, the technique that Hugh employs as an artist conveys an overall sense of calm. You might be observing the world through his eyes, and if the narrative can be bewildering, compelling or even frightening at times, his images in the end just leave you gazing, wondering, and relating to them.  Relating to the blended subtle tonal ranges of primary colours he uses, to the elegant and elongated figures often standing grouped together yet looking frail, alone – or simply to the softness of the layers of oil on canvas that he has applied, wiped off and reapplied.  It is the very combination of the dark and the gentle that makes the surrealism of this contemporary artist so engaging.

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On the Beach, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood

Fleetwood is a self taught artist, his work and technique inspired by the old masters of the Italian Renaissance, that he surrounded himself with whilst living a huge part of his younger life in Italy.

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The Curator, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood
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Pink Flowers, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood

Hugh was born and raised in Sussex, his mother from south-west London and his father from Chichester. The young Fleetwood was always painting as far back as he can remember; he won his first art prize for a large oil of a naked African woman at the age of 16, in 1960.  His art teacher encouraged him to take his art further with an exchange to America, but the young man had other ideas, and decided the US wasn’t for him.  Traveling to continental Europe instead, he spent some time in a freezing Munich, before hopping on a train one morning and heading for Italy. “Where it was still summer!” he says smiling at me.  After three months in Florence, taking in all the wonders of that most beautiful of cities, he hitch-hiked down to Rome, where he would spend the next fourteen years.

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Trio, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood

He arrived in Rome when he was twenty one, and as he was penniless, started looking for work immediately. He applied for a job as an English teacher; on his second day in the city he won the trust of a woman who ran a language institute and not only offered him work but an advance of 80 thousand Lire, at the time a month’s average salary. 

artwork artists interviews
Red Couple, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood

Whilst teaching he started work on his first novel –  chapter a day for 11 days – as well as writing poetry and short stories. To his surprise that first novel was published, but it was his second book, ‘The Girl who Passed for Normal’ that really launched him, becoming a bestseller, winning the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial, Prize, and enabling him to quit teaching and become  a full time writer and artist. For a time writing a book a year, to date he has published 22 novels. One of the novels, The Order of Death, was made into a film starring Harvey Keitel and Jonny Rotten. Always painting as well as writing, he had his first exhibition at the Festival dei Due Mondi, in Spoleto. It was a two man show – his co-exhibitor being none other than Picasso!

artwork artists interviews
Forest Scene, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood
portrait photography cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Then Fleetwood’s time in Italy came to an abrupt end.  His interesting friends in the arts and music, were often his inspirations for his novels with plenty of his stories based on the people he knew, the lives and characters he encountered.  But one of them, an elderly American, took great exception to being portrayed in, as he saw it, a less than flattering light, and not only never spoke to Hugh again, but threatened to have him murdered.  So – although there were other less dramatic reasons – he decided it was time to give up his admittedly very enjoyable life in Italy – “I thought nothing of driving four hundred kilometres to go to lunch, and driving four hundred kilometres home,” – and return to London. 

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Creatures, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood
painting artwork cake
Blue Flowers, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood

Back in the UK, Fleetwood now concentrated more on his painting than his writing, taking a studio in the East End, now trendy Spitalfields with neighbours like Tracey Emin, Gilbert and George. He had two solo exhibitions in the St. Raphael Gallery in Piccadilly, and one – to coincide with the republication of six of his books by Faber & Faber – at Calvert 22, in Calvert Avenue. Most recently, he has had a six week show at Le Dame Gallery, in the White House Hotel just off Regent’s Park.

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Family & Butterflies, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood
painting art cake
Couple, artwork: Hugh Fleetwood

Some artists work evoke the asking of questions to try and have meaning. Hugh doesn’t give much away. Though he does tell me he comes to the studio every day to work, and if any day passes that he hasn’t painted or written, he feels he has wasted twenty four hours of his life. After our interview I took some portraits of him in his studio, and then others in the cold outside, with a slice of Cake provided by Butter Believe it off Brushfield Street.  Shooting sometimes generates a form of intimacy between photographer and subject, and in this case too it prompted Hugh to reveal at least something of himself. He doesn’t like to analyse his work, he tells me, in case it turns to dust.  What he would say, however, is that for him,  if writing comes from the head, painting comes from the heart.

portrait photography artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

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Michelle Loa Kum Cheung

artist portrait cake and tea
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

As the days start to get longer and spring is gradually approaching in the Northern Hemisphere the idea of the utopia of a Peach Spring, the Chinese Myth of the oasis of peach blossoms, is pretty inviting to our imaginations. Michelle’s mixed media artworks encapsulate just that.  When you think of the delicacy of the blossom as it clings to the branch, the frailty of its petals, the subtlety of the colours and the changing of light as the season picks up.  So too would I describe Michelle’s work.  The ethereal, the delicate, the fragility of her applied gold leaf, detailed paintwork, whether on canvas or her painstakingly intricate pyrography, the art of burning on wood, with a heated pen.  She masterfully and gracefully applies time and tenderness as her artworks take you to this otherworldly fantasy.

pyrography artwork mixed media
The Exquisite Fall, artwork: Michelle Loa Kum Cheung
Pyography Mixed Media Artwork
Island, Artwork: Michelle Loa Kum Cheung

Michelle is a Sydney girl born and raised now living in London since 2014, her parents are from Mauritius, speak French, however from Chinese descent.  Although Michelle has never been to China yet, and visited Mauritius twice, her family’s heritage is present in her work.  Four years in the UK she is already winning awards, exhibited in a multitude of art fairs, had a residency at the gorgeous Trelex manor in Switzerland, donated works to charity auctions, including the National Youth Trust, auctioned by Grayson Perry alongside famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and Marc Chagall.  Solo exhibitions in London and Sydney. 

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Artwork: Michelle Loa Kum Cheung
Pyography artwork art
Bidjigal, artwork: Michelle Loa Kum Cheung

Michelle is surprisingly humble and gracious, with an open spirit for new ideas. She tells me how her parents worked as nurses in the UK for some time then moved to Australia.  She explains how her grounded parents are concerned with her career choice as they feel she has not settled in the same way as her elder sisters.  She works part time jobs, recently at an educational charity in an operations role, other part time jobs included working in a tech start up so she can pay the bills as she builds her career as an artist.  Already selling her artworks, with a commissioned work sold just a few days ago.

portrait photography artist
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

This year she has been invited to India for a fully funded artist residency for three months.  Michelle initially started out taking a Psychology degree, after one year, she realised that she had to follow her calling and decided to transfer to a Fine Art Degree at the university of South Wales in Sydney.  After completing the three year undergraduate course Michelle took one year off, visiting Europe as part of her History of Art course work.  She finished with Honours in Sydney, which is equivalent to a Masters here in the UK.  She based her thesis on phenomenology, the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view, in other words how we as an individual perceive the world, and what is around us.  As part of this theory, she created a three dimensional forest made of Organza, with motion censors that would light up the trees as you walked through. 

Pyography mixed media cake
A Divided Fabrication, artwork: Michelle Loa Kum Cheung
Pyography wood mixed media
Li Arising, artwork: Michelle Loa Kum Cheung

This interest in trees, is what encouraged her to start painting on wood instead of canvas and additionally, is what led her to work in pyrography, and how she enjoys the tacility of burning wood, the vibration of the surface as the pyrography pen inscribes the wood with her fine work.  While audiences commonly mistake her pyrography for laser etching and the patterns for screen printing, all the pyrography and patterns are burned and painted by hand respectively.  Her love of nature is present in all her work, as I gaze at her artwork of mountains, lakes and oceans, in rich reds, wood tones and pastel blues and gold leaf; the combination of all her medias that she uses within her artwork. The mountain of Buzhou, another beautiful piece of Chinese mythology that Michelle’s work is inspired by, looking outwards and up towards the heavens, as the mountain reaches up to hold the sky.  According to mythology the mountains supported the heavens from the Chinese Water God as he smashed his head in fury, subsequently the goddess Nüwa had to repair the sky.  Michelle first developed her recent Chinese style when she moved to London, she tells me, as her move from her birth place triggered an increased interest in her family lineage.

Pyography Gold Leaf paint
The Red Harbour, artwork: Michelle Loa Kum Cheung
gold leaf pyography mixed media
Map (The Falls Between), artwork: Michelle Loa Kum Cheung
Pyrography mixed media paint
Red Peninsula, artwork: Michelle Loa Kum Cheung
portrait photography artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

We take her portraits in the woods in North London, inspired by her love of nature and myths, with her basket of cake and tea as in a fairytale.  Michelle practiced gymnastics for 10 years starting at the age of eight, the discipline and the passion of training as a young girl.  It is this combination of pure creativity and driving force that shines out at me with Michelle.

portrait artist woods
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Walera Martynchik

artist portrait photography
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

A giant heart pulsating lights in fluorescent pinks and blues, and what appeared to me as an artery illuminating the halls with its bright pastels, lighting up the dark room in fantasy as dusk fell on this wintry London evening. His giant sculptures made of wire mesh and lighting programmed to create the illusion of a beating heart.  Cosmic Consciousness is what Walera talks to me about,  when we start to discuss this body of work.  I observe Martynchik’s giant paintings in detail, I notice that everything is interlinked.  The artwork of the inner workings of a human body with lungs, arteries, in detail, then the surreal language within the artwork, horsemen fighting battles in the stomach, fallen men, headless humans.  Which represented turmoil to me, as that is where we most often feel it, in the stomach!  When I ask Walera the context of it, he doesn’t explain but illuminates what we discussed, the book by Richard Burke, Cosmic Consciousness.  That his art is what he describes  as “reconstruction of reality”.  How it also inspired artists like Piet Mondrian of universal beauty.

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Artwork: Walera Martynchik
painting art artwork
The Big Bang, artwork: Walera Martynchik
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Space Objects, artwork: Walera Martynchik

Walera’s art started as part of the Soviet Union underground movement, secretly painting his works until the first liberation, Perestroika, the reformation within the communist party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s and 1990s.  I would describe Walera’s paintings as a story within a story and when you know a bit more about him, this will make sense and his work is all the more interesting.  His father was a constable and his mum a micro biologist, however his mother passed away when he was an infant, so he was raised by his grandmother.  She taught him how to read and Walera occupied himself with 50 volumes of encyclopaedias by Stalin.  At seven he moved in with his father and step mother to the city of Grodno, what he describes as being supported by urbanisation.  Walera then explains, emphasising; that the word civilisation means urban education in the Armenian language.  He stresses the importance of Urban living and Education to me during our interview; whatever we take for granted, he lived through the oppression of free speech and western culture.

sculpture artwork cake
Found-objects, artwork: Walera Martynchik
Sculpture art artworks cake
Wounded Angel, artwork: Walera Martynchik
Sculpture art cake
Space Objects, artwork: Walera Martynchik

Before the 1960s, he had no knowledge of Picasso or Salvador Dali, Walera tells me, Mark Chagall who was born in Belarus, however was expelled from his position as an artist, his work considered to poetic.  Artists in the Soviet Union were punished for experimenting, he tells me, it was considered a bourgeoise activity and eliminated from the memory of students.  Walera enrolled in the Academy of Art in Minsk, a five year course, education involved plenty of life drawing and he went on to work as a muralist making propaganda artworks for the Soviet Union.  At night he created his own secret underground works.

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Reconstruction of Heaven, artwork by Walera Martynchik
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Ecclips, artwork: Walera Martynchik

 

The curator Ninel Ziterova from the Estonian State Art Museum visited Martynchik’s private studio and invited him to exhibit his work at the Kadriorge Museum.  However Walera suggested a group exhibition of all the underground artists which he subsequently also curated.  The success of the show led to a series of exhibitions that became the very first Festival of the Soviet Underground Art movement in Narva and Moscow.  Walera then moved to Poland as it was what he called a ‘Free Country’ and whilst in Poland he was invited to exhibit in the UK in 1990.  Francis Bacon visited this exhibition and invited him to dinner in the West End.  During this stay in London, he experienced a culture shock, he was struck how beautiful London was, describing how he noticed the bridges, the trees and architecture, compared to what the communists had destroyed that he eventually set up home in the UK.  He has been a Londoner now 29 years and lives together with his 18 year old son.  Meanwhile he has exhibited in the Netherlands, France, Moscow, London and Singapore.  I came across his work at the London Ultra Exhibition at the Oxo Tower Bargehouse Gallery.

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Dynamic Harmony- Modern Icon, Artwork: Walera Martynchik
painting Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabett II, artwork: Walera Martynchik

Walera’s work is complex and exciting, I feel like a girl lost in Aladdin’s cave as I wonder about his studio near Bow in the East End, as he prepares for his next show in Singapore.  His giant sculptures, the head of a composer and small bronze figures and musical instruments, that sit high on the bright windows, his giant robot statue standing seven feet on a stone table, makes me think of the film Iron Man.  I notice a series of paintings recollective of fictional book illustrations, only rather surreal, human figures with animal heads and roses. Martynchik illustrates to me the origins of the idea, a Christmas tradition back in the Soviet Union.  I am gazing at a portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II, with her gentle face and calm eyes, the symbolism in the details of the abstract artworks within the painting convey a subtext. This appears in all of his portraits.  His next show is in Singapore,  15 January 2019 with his paintings based on music composers accompanied with his heart installation. 

artist portrait photography
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

Anabelle Del Valle

portrait artist cake
Anabelle Del Valle

What struck me about Anabelle’s work, is the graphic abstract impact.  It punches you in a good way, bold and expressive.  I noticed the systematic black and white patterns and then an expressive pop of colour.  It has a perspicuous feel to it.  It’s the way she uses space, there is empty space although this space is a pattern, like wallpaper filling up an empty room, however her collage interacts with the pattern creating a three dimensional feel to it.  Her artworks and even her street art and murals all have this similar thread, wether the black and white grid, or tiny little squares, or graphic primary colours.  Some of it creating an illusion that makes you feel as if you are standing on the edge of the universe, others that appear to move, or pull you in.  Your eye is drawn to the focal point which is the collage, or the hidden image that appears through the grid.  Bright bold reds, strong beautiful women with shoulder pad strength reminiscent of the 80’s they stand out with a statement, I am independent.  In one particular artwork the face is cut out and what appears as dart board for a face, or the swirling patterns like peacock feathers, or the girl lost in the cloud of dots.

Artwork collage mixed media cake
Artwork: Anabelle Del valle
Artwork collage art cake
Artwork: Anabelle Del Valle

The first thing I discover about Anabelle she is also a mathematician, she used to teach the subject, Algebra, trigonometry and geometry and she has a degree in Architecture, which she started in her late 20’s at the California State University, she studied in both the US, Denmark and the Netherlands. She chose Architecture over Fine Art, for practical reasons she tells me.  Her artwork she explains, is influenced by architecture and she has always been interested in patterns and fields of repetition, negative form and black and white, yet wanted to be less abstract and wanted to introduce a human figure. She plays with layers and light, using plexiglass and large canvases.  She doesn’t stop at painting, she recently created a mural in the Santa public gallery in Los Angeles, approximately 12 feet high and 5 feet wide, creating a stencil that she repeated over 200 times and then painting two figures of a woman, as if cut in half or actually disappearing into the shadows.

Collage artwork art cake
Artwork: Anabelle Del Valle
Artwork mixed media collage cake
Artwork: Anabelle Del Valle
artwork pattern collage cake
Artwork: Anabelle Del Valle
portrait artist cake Los Angeles
Photo: Luis Navarro

Del Valle was born in Mexico, Mother and daughter moved to Los Angeles when she was very young and where she grew up, it’s her hometown along with her other home back in Mexico with her extended family, a family of strong independent women, Anabelle tells me, she was raised by her single mother.   She left home at 18 remains close to her mother, brother and sister.  As a young woman she was actively working all sorts of jobs.  Along with getting married at 19 and divorcing.  An astute survivor,  Anabelle explains that a lot of her work is about processing herself and her place in the world.  Most of her work is about women and femininity and those expectations on us, she feels we have to be perfect.  “A lot of our value is sold through advertising” she tells me and her work is processing these thoughts.  She often uses stunning  and strong looking women in her collage artworks, Anabelle likes the idea of chance, the randomness how things come into your life.  She admires women who are very tenacious.  How they raise their inner minds to make them open to the world, yet have to have a voice as women and still be open and kind and have empathy.  

Artwork mixed media plexiglass cake
Artwork: Annabelle Del Valle
Artwork collage plexiglass cake
Artwork; Anabelle Del Valle

Her influences are artists like Joseph Albers the German born American artist and lecturer at Yale university one of the pioneers of the Bauhaus movement, his systematic artworks is what inspired her, the order of his work and what she enjoys when creating her own work with that infraction of colour.  Meditating whilst painting what she describes as a Mandala.  She has worked as a graphic designer creating packages and these influences are additionally recognisable in her art.  She became interested in Exhibition design and works for an architectural lighting company and is comfortable working together with architects and interior designers.  Del Valle’s first exhibition as an artist was in 2015 and her first International Art Fair this year in 2018.

Collage Artwork cake
Artwork: Anabelle Del Valle
Collage artwork patterns CAKE
Artwork: Anabelle Del Valle

Although Annabelle is at the earlier stages of her career as an artist, she is currently organising her next solo show here in the UK next year.  She explains how much she enjoyed London, walking along the Thames and viewing the landmarks that tears filled her eyes.  We talk about languages, she is naturally fluent in Spanish and English, she says something that makes me smile before we end our interview, English she explains is a very economical language its easy to explain things in short sentences, Spanish on the other hand she tells me takes forever, you have to use so many words to explain the same thing that is actually quite simple.  In a nutshell defining the differences in cultures and the luxury of experiencing both. This is reflected in both her and her work.

portrait artist cake Los Angeles
Photo: Luis Navarro