Isolation Interview with Miranda Forrester

To start the new year we would love to share with you a new interview with artist Miranda Forrester. In December we sent Miranda a disposable camera and a list of questions to give us an insight into her studio practice.

SEAM: Do you have a daily routine in the studio, can you talk us through it? Or does each day begin differently?

Miranda Forrester: Each day begins differently depending on what I am working on and what I am in the mood for. I have 3 stages, preparing my surfaces, drawing out my design and laying down the foundations (image transfer and gloss paint) and then painting with oils. I am trying to create a continuous system at the moment, where I am always doing all three, working on different paintings simultaneously.

SEAM: Your studio was at Phoenix Studios in Brighton until a few months ago. How have you found the move? Has the new space effected your practice at all?

MF: Yes, the new space has affected my work, I would say. I have a larger space now, so I am working more on the floor and on multiple large canvases at the same time. It takes me a while to get settled into a new space, so I think my work is a bit more familiar until I feel comfortable enough in the space to start taking risks. I loved my studio in Brighton but London is my home so I am feeling good about being back.

SEAM: Can you tell us bit about your process and how a painting begins?

MF: I always paint from life, I find that I am unable to capture the same sense of movement, personality and liveliness from still images. I start by arranging a life drawing session with one of my friends or life models, then I make several fast drawings over an hour or two hour sitting. I then spend some time thinking about which drawings are the strongest (I make a lot of drawings and whittle them down) and which ones will look good on either a small or large scale, and on PVC or canvas. Once I have made those decisions, I will project drawings for a large canvas up and begin my image transfer process, selecting images from photographs and films and applying them in specific sections on the painting. For small paintings I will work directly from my drawings and experiment with applying gloss paint.

SEAM: Is there any artist in particular who has had an impact on your work?

MF: There are many artists that have had an impact on my practice, in particular though I would say Tschabalala Self – I just love her work, the shapes she uses, the figures, the colours. Her paintings are so bold yet with huge amounts of subtlety at the same time. I love the scale and how her figures unapologetically take up space.

SEAM: Your work varies from painting on canvas to painting on PVC stretched over canvas. How did you develop this method of painting and can you explain the idea behind it?

MF: I was always transfixed by transparent surfaces, I just love being able to create layers and play around with negative space in a different way. I started painting on glass and perspex but found issues with displaying these works and also with how hard the surface is. When I discovered PVC, I loved how I could stretch it in the way I can canvas, and how supple and strong yet fragile it is as a material.

SEAM: How would you like your paintings to be exhibited? You mention that the PVC paintings should be hung or exhibited in a certain way. Is this just for exhibitions or does it extend to the home as well?

MF: I like my PVC paintings to be hung in a way that makes the most of the shadows that are created from the paintings when they are well lit. They look great near a window usually. I also like them to be hung on a background colour that compliments the work – as this becomes part of the image. They generally either look good on a very light or very dark background, so they stand out.

SEAM: What do you listen to when you work?

MF: I always listen to music when I work. My go-to is chilled r&b, hip- hop and indie. I also often listen to podcasts of artists, writers and musicians.

SEAM: Do you find many opportunities to collaborate with people? Does working in London lend itself better to these collaborations than in Brighton? Or have you found everything has been put on hold and the focus has been more on your personal practice?

MF: I see the life drawing part of my painting process as a collaboration between me and the model. I have been able to establish these kinds of collaborations wherever I am. In terms of other collaborations, leading workshops, making site- specific work and working with galleries, I have found more opportunities to do this in London.

SEAM: What collaborations, if any, have been most successful in your work? If you haven’t had any yet, who are would you most like to work with?

MF: My collaborations with couples as opposed to single figures have been particularly successful in my work, especially when the people I am painting have a strong sense of how they want to be represented. In the future I would love to collaborate with a sound artist to make a piece to be played with my work – music really influences my painting and this is something I would love to work on one day.

SEAM: Thinking of your work outside of the gallery, where would you most like to work or who with? Be it a residency, company or space to exhibit in?

MF: I would love to travel and take part in residencies abroad, there are so many that I would love to work in. I think my surroundings really influences my work and it would be really interesting to see how being in a completely different context would affect my work. I would love to make work in Grenada, (I am half Grenadian) I haven’t visited in a long time so would like to return to complete a residency there. Completing the Studio Museum in Harlem residency is also an ambition of mine.

SEAM: What has inspired you most recently? Be it a film, book, quote or person.

MF: I was really inspired by the Toyin Ojih Odutola exhibition at The Barbican recently – the narrative and story- telling running through the exhibition was phenomenal, her paintings created a whole new world which was unlike anything I had ever seen before.

Click here to view Miranda Forrester's available artwork

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