Prolific artist and curator Rosalind Davis is the next Expert Judge to join the panel for Jackson’s Painting Prize 2020. Her practice is concerned with the transformation of space which she explores through multiple disciplines. Here, Rosalind shares some practical advice for competition entrants and describes what she will be looking for in the artworks submitted to the next Jackson’s Painting Prize.
Above image: Strange Lands, 2017, Rosalind Davis, Mixed media on linen, 100 x 100 cm
Clare: You work across a broad spectrum of the arts: painting, sculpture, curation, writing and teaching. Can you talk about your approach to curation? Is it very separate from your own artistic practice or do they feed into one another?
Rosalind: I do indeed work across a broad spectrum of the arts and I love that about my career! I want to push my ideas and evolve as much as possible in all areas of my artistic practice and expand upon what being an artist means to me as I see all of these roles as an expansion of being an artist and feed into one another.. not necessarily in a specific way but in just feeding my brain and eyes! Meeting other artists or students in my roles outside is aways really fascinating- I always want to learn from others and hear about peoples experiences, processes and art experiences.
As an artist I am very sensitive about the context of a built space and now have been curating Collyer Bristow Gallery for the last 3.5 years which is housed in a working and active law firm which is a rich vein of inspiration for me. Collyer Bristow Gallery is a space full of narratives where resolutions are continually being worked towards, modified and resolved. I curate thematically and often start with a title (often) informed by music or by a riff on the gallery being in a law firm (Complicity | Telling Tales) but which takes into account wider world issues – from feminism/climate change/identity/architecture and beyond.
The gallery is very large and I am usually working with 15 + artists per show, 3 times a year in these themed shows and usually have about 45-50 artworks to curate. It’s a big job and I like to be very expansive and investigative in my approach. It feels like creating an opera or perhaps a movie in essence! I work with many artists across the year- not only those I exhibit in the shows there but the team / art world I have around me which I trust and value. In my own practice I have been working collaboratively with my partner Justin Hibbs on 5 shows across the last year – working site specifically in lots of different galleries and it’s been really informative and inspiring what we have achieved in different ways in each of these spaces.
Clare: What do you think are the most interesting architectural spaces in London and why?
Rosalind: In general I am fascinated by almost all kinds of architectural spaces. I look and look and look. It’s important in London (or in any spaces) to look up. I grew up in Brockley, South East London and nearby in Deptford or Peckham for example there are incredible architectural sights to see – Art Deco, Georgian etc buildings with nail shops/barber shops/clothes shop on the ground level and you could miss a lot of that history if you don’t look up. A lot of my work is about asking and encouraging you to look and create your own compositions.
I am always looking at buildings, architecture and places as I travel and often my painting starts with photographing specific buildings. A particular favourite London landmark is The Barbican, I love it there, not only because of it’s architecture but because of my personal memories that resonate in me when I am there. I often talk about about architecture in my work as both physical and psychological and the Barbican is a building that really sums that up for me.
Clare: Throughout both your 2D and 3D work, there is a relationship of form and only in some cases, colour. Can you tell us about your overall approach to colour in your work and also about your choice of red for the paintings shown here?
Rosalind: I feel like there is a huge relationship and connections between both my 2D and 3D work. The 2D informed my 3D work. I was painting in a 3D way on a 2D canvas and eventually as the work evolved I wanted to extract that and literally make something 3D… it felt like a natural progression even though it took a little time. I do a lot of drawing too so the 3D work really came from there. In several recent exhibitions showing both forms of works you can definitely see the relationship.
Some of the paintings that I sent to Jackson’s to represent me and my work are part of different series and they are all based on real architectural spaces: With some I started with painting the underside of the Caixa Foundation in Madrid which is an amazing steel mirrored space designed by Herzog de Meron. I took a number of photos, printed them and then started to intervene on the photos with pen, tippex, thread, to create a whole new architectural space / building which then informed how I would approach the large scale paintings as well as the materiality of the paint.
I then went on to develop works through then colliding/collaging this Caixa building with another space, Quai Branly, in Paris. The reds come directly from the colours of the Quai Branly building. I do like to restrict my colour palette and work in glazes so a lot of the paintings here are really using only lamp black, crimson red, ochre and lemon yellow and a little white and then I intervene on the painted canvas with threads of the same palette.
Clare: What will you be looking for in the entries submitted to the competition this year?
Rosalind: I always look for integrity and originality. Something that intrigues or delights me.
Clare: How important do you think awards and competitions are for artists today?
Rosalind: I think these opportunities are extremely important. I have been in awards and competitions as an artist as well as running open call competitions myself for over 10 years and often been part of the panel for several of them too. I recently had the privilege to be part of the panel for the UK Young Artists and helped give £10,000 to a young artist Conor Roger and a second prize of £5000 to Camilla Hanney at the Saatchi Gallery. These opportunities allow artists to be seen by a panel and then, if selected, possibly work with and meet some of those people. Also, the artist has new audiences and opportunities to maximise on. Obviously the financial award is life changing but even if you don’t win the main prize as an artist there are still loads of other benefits to exhibiting. Make the most of it and go the extra mile.
As an artist these opportunities are hugely valuable to be part of and on occasions led me to working with several galleries as a result. But that was also about me being proactive about an opportunity once selected. In a group show however you are selected you need to be memorable in all the right ways so arts professionals will want to work with you on other potential opportunities/exhibitions. Represent yourself, be present and be professional too – collaborate on the marketing and be present. Don’t just turn up to the PV, bring people at other times during the exhibition run. If there are events associated with the exhibition be there and most important of all say thank you for the opportunity.
Clare: Do you have any advice for artists out there thinking about entering the Jackson’s Painting Prize this year?
Rosalind: Check the resolution of the work first and foremost! You can get knocked out of a competition because all we can see is a postage stamp size of a work. Also, if you do need to submit a statement, work on it and make it count as this can be a deal breaker to a panel that can only see digital images and read about your work. Make your statement relevant, engaging, concise and descriptive of the work and ideas.
Clare: What are you working on at the moment and where can we see more of your work online?
Rosalind: We have a few things in the pipeline but nothing I can talk about at the moment. As an artist I have just done my 5th exhibition with Justin Hibbs on a collaborative installation over the last 18 months which is a lot! The last being Vanishing Points at the Foundry Gallery. Sept-Nov 2019. At this point we need to go back to the studio, process everything and see what we want to do next and also to reflect on a lot of the photographs of the installations which will feed back into both of our individual practices as well as our collaboration. I have seen paintings I want to do inspired by our installation. It’s important to reflect after a period of great busy-ness! We are always looking at new possibilities to present this site specific work which has evolved from gallery to gallery every time- which is so exciting as it’s never the same!
As a curator, our new graduate exhibition Exceptional which I co-selected and then curated at Collyer Bristow Gallery has just opened and is very exciting- 29 artists were selected and you can read more about that here: http://bit.ly/2JCB6nO
I will be working on bringing people to see that exhibition as well as now working on a new exhibition from Feb-June at Collyer Bristow. Who knows, maybe I will find some artists through the judging of the Jackson’s Painting Prize – my eyes are always looking!
I will also be teaching for a variety of different arts organisations and universities and work regularly for Artquest, a-n, PLOP as a mentor as well as independently. I am also delighted to have just become involved with a new organisation that is The ArtMBA.com, which will be an online course that I lecture on, they are running initially the Fine Art Summit, which is a whole host of free talks online across the 22-29th from a load of artists and art professionals (including me on the 26th) which I am also excited to be able to listen to- you can read more about it and sign up for the free talks here https://fineartistsummit.com/-rosalind
So pretty busy on all fronts but love every aspect!
Click here to find out more about Jackson’s Painting Prize 2020