"Inspiration is difficult to define, it can pop up anywhere, anytime."
Dani, you are such a close friend. It's so lovely to get to talk to you in-depth about your practice. So... Dani tell us a little bit about your work?
Well, I predominantly paint still-life and my speciality is fruit. Not to be too obvious about it but the fruit in my painting as well as being a beautiful subject matter with any number of colours and textures, but they are useful as a symbol, because like all living things they have a life cycle and get damaged along the way.. I also use the fruit in a picture as a ‘portal’ to somewhere else, another time or place – a bit like Alice In Wonderland but without the White Rabbit - giving the painting an element of surrealism. I paint on a prepared canvas of smooth sanded down gesso (this helps with fine detail) using best quality oil paints (it makes a huge difference but they are expensive) using traditional glazing techniques.
Tell us a bit about how you were trained?
My training was sporadic, I went to a Rudolph Steiner school where art and the history of art is part of everyday learning (plus I had the keys to the art room). I studied fashion in Brighton when I left school at seventeen, after that I learnt at the atelier of an older experienced artist who mentored me and didn’t let me get away with anything and for whom drawing was an essential skill for all artists and where everything else could then follow.
There have been so many... What has been a highlight of your career?
A single highlight is difficult, but probably being made a full SWA followed by the vice-presidency. Getting into the RA was exciting. I am also proud of the small but excellent annual exhibition show I was involved in, here in Wadhurst, for many years (The September Art Exhibition). Lastly, and this may sound a bit smooth but I also work with some of the best galleries in the country - it can take years to find a gallery with the right fit, so they are a definite highlight.
WHERE DOES YOUR INSPIRATION COME FROM?
Inspiration is difficult to define, it can pop up anywhere, anytime. The fruit and veg department of a supermarket when some bright red pomegranate is sitting there asking to be painted for example. I also find walking and driving (not on a motorway and still taking care) are both good for letting my mind wander around in my imagination.
WHAT ABOUT, WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU’RE DOING WHEN WE'RE OUT OF LOCKDOWN?
I think seeing friends in the flesh, it’s so great to have zoom, Facetime etc but it goes without saying that nothing beats the real thing!
YOU'VE HELPED SO MANY WITH THIS. SO, WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ARTISTS?
I always come back to the same thing when it comes to advice, and that if it is 100% the only thing you ever want to do, then keep doing it, keep going and never give up. Earn money doing something else for a while if you have to, we all have to eat, but use your spare time to develop your practice and importantly your own individual voice.
I'd be fascinated to know, who is your favourite historical female artist Dani?
It has to be Artemisia Gentileschi 1593-1653 a highly accomplished Baroque painter – she specialized in scenes of female heroines, myths etc. But also Bridget Riley, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo and Paula Rego to name a few more...
And your favourite practising female artist?
Probably Julie Heffernan, an American painter, described as ‘ironic rococo surrealism with a social-satirical twist’ check her out. Someone else whose work I love is Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf also an SWA and a star in the making.