Opening Thursday 17 May until July 1st 2018
An exhibition of paintings, monoprints, ceramics and glass that has been curated by York artist LESLEY BIRCH and ceramist EMILY STUBBS for Pyramid Gallery. As well as their own work, the exhibition features glass by UK based artists.
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LESLEY BIRCH – Interview by Helen Mead – March 2018
*Where did you grow up? Has this influenced your art?
I grew up in the city of Glasgow and enjoyed family weekends at Loch Lomond, only a stone’s throw away. Summer holidays were spent on the wild West Coast of Scotland. I think this memory of water and shorelines is the reason I’m a landscape painter today.
*Do you have favourite places you like to paint?
Yes, very much. In Yorkshire, Sandsend Bay is my favourite place, but I also love the Lakes and Cornwall too. I’ve recently been painting on the Island of Islay in Scotland, which was very inspiring.
*Do you live in York and is your studio at home?
Yes, I live in York and just love the historic buildings and the surrounding countryside. Since I moved here in 2010 I’ve met so many brilliant people and made new friends too. I have two studios – one at home and another at PICA Studios in Grape Lane – it’s a shared space in an 18th Century printworks building. I find the atmosphere exciting and inspiring. I love being around other artists.
*What is your family background? Do any other family members paint?
Dad was an architect and as a five-year-old I loved drawing with him at his desk. My mother painted in gouache and took me out plein-air painting in my teens.
*Do you record your emotional responses to the landscape?
Yes, I do. I have a mantra – ‘I see, I hear, I feel … I paint.’ The emotional connection is the main thing for me. I always carry a sketchbook. I draw and paint with pencil and watercolour, quickly and instinctively. Sounds around me are just as important as colours and shapes as well as the feel of the air. When I’m in the studio, I try to enter back into the ‘feeling’ of place and recapture that moment. So I’m working from memory and building up layers over time.
*Do you like oils or watercolour?
I love oils and I also really like acrylics – which are water-based paints. I use all sizes of brushes and palette knives too. I can create texture as well as translucency and rich layers of colours by mixing oil paint with the medium of cold wax. It’s expensive, but very enjoyable, making the paint more malleable and lush.
*How long does a painting take to complete?
Paintings can take anything from a week to months or even years. It really depends upon the medium I’m using. And it also depends upon my decision about whether it is actually finished or not. This is an instinctive process. It has to have the right marks in the right place and the right feel.
*You’re exhibiting in York soon at The Pyramid Gallery with Emily Stubbs. How did this come about?
I was thrilled when Terry asked me to exhibit about a year ago. Emily and I are both founding members of the studios at PICA. We have an affinity with tone and texture and love each other’s work. So it seemed a natural thing to exhibit together. We’re really excited about it. Emily and I bounce off each other’s colour and textural responses, so it’ll be lovely to see our work displayed together.
*What will we see in this exhibition?
I’ll be exhibiting vibrant colourful paintings from Sandsend to dramatic, moody weather paintings from Islay in Scotland.
Sandsend: Pots & Paintings Inspired by Coasts – Lesley Birch | Emily Stubbs runs from May 18th to July 1st, 2018 at The Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York
To coincide with the exhibition, Emily and Lesley are also running a workshop together where you can make a painting and a pot in a day. Dates for this are May 26th or May 27th. More details here: https://www.lesleybirchartist.com/workshop.html