Each month Culture NI is teaming up Big Lottery-funded social enterprise somewhereto_, to spotlight emerging young talents it has helped access free physical or digital space to explore their creative pursuits in Northern Ireland.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Anna, I’m 17, and I’m currently studying for my A Levels. I’m a ukulele teacher, bookworm, cereal enthusiast, vintage clothes admirer, and cat-lover extraordinaire. Oh, and I love to make art.
When did you first take an interest in art?
I've been interested in art for as long as I've been able to hold a pencil. My love for drawing has been a constant thread throughout my life, and my childhood was largely made up of drawing and/or making things. I used to collect shoeboxes and spend hours constructing my own doll houses – spending time on interior design and creating tiny, intricate pieces of furniture.
How have you pursued that interest up until this point?
Before putting myself forward for the somewhereto_FRAMED exhibition I didn't really realise art/drawing was something that could be pursued. Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but it was always something I just did for myself. It came so naturally, like eating or sleeping, that I never considered sharing it with anyone. It was only when I started my GCSE art and got such positive feedback that I started to look at it differently and take my own artwork more seriously, and so as a result entered myself into somewhereto_.
Do you have a particular area you work best or specialise in?
I absolutely love drawing faces, and I've been working for three years now in that area. For me faces are never, ever boring. I love the challenge of capturing the soul and spark of a person in pencil or chalk or whatever. It's so rewarding, especially if all goes to plan and your drawing is recognisable!
How would you describe your style and what led you down that route?
I've never really thought about having a style. I suppose I'd like to think I combine more detailed work (like the features of a face) with something more quirky and fun (like hair done in felt tip). I just do what feels right to me.
Are there any artists in particular who've influenced you?
I’m influenced very much by other young people through social media like Instagram and Tumblr. In particular Kate Powell, who is 19, has made a big impact on me. The fact she’s also a young person, and her ambition and attitude to art in general is very inspiring. I also love Charmaine Olivia’s work. However, although I admire the works of many, I don’t think it’s obvious I’ve been influenced by any particular person – it comes through so subtly.
What other sort of things would make an impression on your work? Do your surroundings effect what you do?
Absolutely everything makes an impression on me. I think when you’re artistic you tend to be a very visual person anyway. I admire everything – clothes, websites, film, photography, even settings in real life (like the lighting, the interior design, etc). Even certain people; the way they carry themselves, their expressions, their mannerisms. When watching Wes Anderson films and Lana Del Rey’s short films and music videos she directs herself, the colour and texture are so rich it’s hard not to be inspired!
Do you have a particular process when working on a piece or does it vary depending on what it is?
I never draw an outline – I’ll always just dive in and work out from a certain point. For example, if I’m drawing a face I always start with the right eye and just move everything out from there. Apart from that, I don’t really have any other process.
Your piece 'Chloe Lemon' was featured as part of the somewhereto_FRAMED exhibition. Tell us about this piece – what was the thinking behind it? What went into creating it? And who is Chloe Lemon?
Through this piece I wanted to convey how even people who appear so beautiful and serene on the outside can harbour bitter thoughts, feelings or bitter attitude on the inside. In the real world the face belongs to my friend Chloe O’Lone (who also does A Level Art). Obviously she’s very beautiful and so I thought her face would suit the idea. I used chalk to create it, which was challenging for me as it’s not a medium I’m used to working with, and it took many hours to complete!
The piece was displayed in the Legenderry Warehouse café throughout the exhibition. Was this the first time you'd had any of your work showcased to the public? What was that like if so?
Yes, this was the first time I’d had anything publicly displayed. It was really bizarre to see something you’ve worked on for so long in your own home/space suddenly hanging on a wall for the world!
Has that exposure had any impact?
As a result I’ve had two commissions and offered a space in the Legenderry Warehouse shop to sell any work I want. Yay for me!
Do you feel Northern Ireland has enough opportunities and means of supporting emerging artists at the moment?
I don’t really feel like it does. Maybe there’s more opportunities for people at university level but I never hear of anything happening for people my age. I also feel like, in general, it’s difficult to make an impact with art than other art forms (like music, drama, etc) because it’s so subjective.
Are there any other pieces you're particularly proud of?
I’m proud of everything I make as soon as it’s finished but then the more and more I study it, the more and more I find flaws and begin to hate it. What can I say, I’m a perfectionist!
What are your hopes as an artist and where do you plan to go from here?
The more I mature, the more I’ve started to realise art doesn’t have to just be a hobby. I think this is something I can use to really make a statement about the things I feel passionately about, like feminism for example. From here hopefully I’ll complete my A Level Art successfully and proceed to a degree in Fine Art.
If you're aged 16-25 and need hooked up with free space to make your ideas happen then get in touch with somewhereto_NI. Contact Joe at email@example.com.