Interview by Dion Archibald for Artquotes.net
1. Why are you an artist Belinda?
Why am I an artist? Interesting question, because it implies choice and I don’t feel I have one. For me the process of not expressing myself creatively through the use of colour, the mark of the brush and the creation of images and movement on a canvas would leave me feeling dead.
2. Could you tell us some more about your paintings?
My paintings are my world, my fascination for people, plants, animals and colour, how I perceive things with all their energy. I’ve spent my life traveling and living in different countries, always trying to see things with a fresh eye, my senses constantly being stimulated, any preconceived ideas challenged. For this reason I don’t like the confines of the canvas or of perspective and more often than not my figures burst forth as does the unlikely prawn. The painting itself is like a journey for me. I start off with a primed black canvas and no preconceived idea of what I´m going to paint. Working from black, there is an energy and dynamism in every brush stroke that it starts to feed the painting .The face is the first thing I paint and the story begins or the world develops. The face tells me where it is and what’s going on. I never paint the eyes until the last point of the painting,at that point the painting doesn’t need me anymore it has its own personality.
3. A lot of seafood seems to feature in your work. Does it have any special meaning for you?
Prawns and lobsters and fish of all kind, fish and water for me equals freedom, but there is no conscious symbolism here. I love the shape of prawns and lobsters and their colours. When I paint I taste. For me painting and cooking are very similar experiences. I experience taste sensations with colours so the use of colour is very sensual and satisfying. I paint quite a few situations where people are eating, drinking etc. and consuming in general. I don’t really like to analyze my work in any kind of way which is why I tend to avoid talking about it. I don’t want to restrict any spontaneous imagery because of what it symbolizes on an intellectual level.
4. What artists have influenced you, and how?
I was very influenced by early renaissance art and illuminations along with primitive art where the rules had not yet arrived and a naivety still existed, but then the beauty of form arrived artists like Pierro della Francesca and Mantegna really inspired me. On a more contemporary note the French Impressionist Vuillard for his colour and use of paint. Rothko for his magic. Paula Rego for her strength of imagery and the worlds she creates and Ron Meuk’s incredible sculptures which have souls of their own. Graffiti and music videos have also been a major influence especially when I lived in NewYork in the 80´s. I feel that I am greatly influenced by film, video and photography.
5. What other interests do have (besides painting)?
I love gardening and the many different methods of cultivation in the world, especially alternative ones .I practice Tai Chi and Yoga and meditate. Different philosophies of life and cultures I find fascinating. Photography, capturing images is something I constantly do and I guess traveling whenever I get the opportunity.
6. What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?
Anything can inspire me, something that suddenly catches my eye, usually a bit quirky or out of the ordinary, or a touch of humour or an amazing colour. Quite often things from nature, and when things get tough, I try and remember it’s because I´ve usually got caught up in the intellect of it all and when I just relax and allow the fun side of painting to come through with no expectation or judgment of myself ,the painting starts to flow. If that doesn´t work a total change of environment usually works.
7. How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
With great difficulty. Promoting myself is one of the hardest things and has probably held me back… the moment I let someone else take over things just charge forward. In the last few years I´ve submitted my work for various prestigious group shows and out of that has come a Television Show to be aired this year, and from that a gallery. Also getting my website up has been extremely important, a lot of work has been done on it to make it successful and a lot more changes are due this year. But I find the business side very hard and detracting from the creative side.
8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ideally with 3 major galleries around the world representing me. Allowing me to work towards 2 solo shows a year and the odd commission. Wouldn’t that be nice? All though I have a dream of traveling around the world just capturing faces and then filling a giant gallery with all these different faces.
9. Could you talk about your latest series of paintings and what you are trying to achieve with them?
I have an exhibition in June that coincides with a television program for the BBC in which I took part and was profiled. So this is an important time for me and my painting. I don’t really want to talk about my current paintings as I´m really trying not to think about them to much, but I have noticed they are getting richer and with a lot more depth.
10. What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Be passionate. Its not an easy life, but its a real life. Most importantly believe in yourself. It is filled with joy and pain and can take you places and allow you to do things with a freedom most people don’t have the luxury of. Unless you become successful immediately you will live by your wits and initiative.