Briefly describe the work you do.
My work creates a dialogue between painting and video. I use gesture; however, my marks are attempts to transitively capture the, music, actions and communications of others. Energy emerges from countless repeated attempts to capture both spontaneous and performed communication between individuals from different eras. I often work collaboratively with my daughter, or [NAME] to see and hear through other generation’s experience. I mix personal everyday observation and feature film including relationships between who we are, and who we would like to be. Out of disparate encounters, correspondences occur. I sometimes revisit sites used previously as a source for the work. These are returned to after an interval, to film what happens when the paintings are placed in current situations related to performances from which they were originally drawn. Often the unforeseen occurs and the works are subsequently developed integrating the unexpected and others’ response or obliviousness as part of their fabric. My installations involve an orchestration of several components, which may be reconfigured to best activate the space. The partial glazing emphasizes the vulnerability of the exposed watercolours similar to the fragility of human relationships. I aim to create a space in which to contemplate a meeting between that which is fluid in motion and that which is formed however transitory.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up between two cities London and Belfast. We travelled between them, returning to Belfast every school holiday to my mother’s family home where we lived from I was aged 2-5, after her marriage disintegrated and she became a single parent. My experience of the importance of friendship, family relationships and the memory of the particular light in Northern Ireland profoundly affects my work. I still return there often as well as regularly visiting areas in England such asDevon and the New Forest to film. I live, work and teach in London.
Finally I am also a parent. This was something I feared might prevent my vocation continuing as an artist since I knew hardly any positive role models who had managed to combine being both artist and mother. However my eighteen- year old daughter ‘s creative insight, energy, relationship and presence has proved to be a constant source and inspiration for my work. She is an artist herself and is currently studying joint honours English and Drama. She often performs in my videos.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I work in 3 studios, each of which is distinct. The first one is more usual, it’s in a block with other artists called Kingsgate Workshops Trust, here I make my drawn paintings while watching videos on my television monitor screen. I can walk there from home in 20 minutes. The second is in my bedroom, on my computer where I edit my video work and sometimes make small trailer drawn paintings with silverpoint. My third studio is out on location in the world, in places that interest me, sometimes returning to sites where original performances happened. Sometimes collaborating as part of [NAME] performing, filming and making work in changing locations such as the Platform gallery, (on a railway station platform) where we had a residency last year. I find working with others is fundamental to my practice, although I do usually make my drawn paintings alone.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I never imagined I would collaborate or work with other’s as I am by nature a very shy person. However, in the past 18 years my practice has evolved to include working collaboratively. Video allows me to record performances and then work privately from it. It allows me to view spontaneous movement or gesture repeatedly, sometimes hundreds of times. Digital editing gives me great freedom to work with time, change and combining my recordings with those of others.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
It is a case of needs must and working with what is possible as I juggle my various commitments. However I feel I have found a positive pattern. I make my paintings in the hours of daylight. I especially like working in the mornings and up to about 4pm. However I usually then come home to edit my videos in the dark. This has helped me be more productive, especially when I had a young child and working hours were short and precious. As well as this being a convenient way of working, on reflection I have come to realise that a harmony with the natural cycle of day and night is at the heart of my process. My work channels light. I draw from film with silverpoint that tarnishes on exposure to air and light. I am working with natural processes of change.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
The medium I work with has remained the same for the last six years. I have worked with silverpoint for 18 years and I will be featured in the catalogue for the forthcoming exhibition,” Drawing with Silver and Gold at The National Gallery of Art in Washington and The British Museum London, and also exhibited in contemporary exhibitions of silverpoint in USA and London. I also have worked for 15 years excavating paintings with a drill while viewing and combining performances captured on film. Through making these drawn paintings I become able to edit and resolve my video work. Recently my installations have evolved to include glass panels that I lean across my paintings, partially glazing them to reflect my video projection and the viewer.
For the past two years I have also been collaborating with three other female artists; Sue Glasgow, Lucy Lauener, Charlie Betts in [NAME] our performance and film collective. I mix and combine drawing from films of [NAME] with my own individual work. This has opened up an extended range of surprising moments gestures and interactions, which I believe have enriched my work in unexpected ways. An example of this is my silverpoint installation “Satisfaction”.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Yes firstly specific actors and musicians whose performances I find mesmerizing. I often work from the same person following them in different roles eg; Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Rüdiger Vogler, Heath Ledger, Pascale Ogier, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse.
Secondly, I combine and layer performances by known artists with the as yet unknown. Especially significant has been my daughter Anna who has been a constant muse and collaborator for last eighteen years. Also other young people I know, passers by, and [NAME].
Secondly my husband Mark Dean is a video artist. We have been partners for 39 years and I have learnt a lot from him, particularly in regard to video. We have supported each other through critical conversation, encouragement and fellowship as artists.
Lastly, my parents, who separated when I was two. My father was Eric Winstone a big band leader and musician. My mother Myrtle Winstone a high couture model, who later established her own fashion model agency. My mother still has a highly critical visual eye and understanding of image, colour and line. I recall many conversations walking along a street listening to her describing and assessing the appearance and gestures of strangers. These seem to connect to my interest in sound, movement and gesture. Perhaps indeed my interest in finding connections between different eras through my selection of films I combine, relates to the fact that my father was 20 years older than my mother and my daughter is 39 years younger than me.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
As well as being a practicing artist, I am also a Fine Art teacher and lecturer. I have taught Fine Art in various colleges and universities and for the past 30 years I have been teaching at Kensington and Chelsea College on a higher education course. I have learnt hugely from my fellow lecturers as well as from my students, particularly on the HNC Course in Fine Art (equivalent to the first year of BA). The students have been described as of “no fixed demographic”. One of my students, 12 years after graduation, works collaboratively with me in [NAME]. If I could be anything else as well as an artist and lecturer it would be a musician. I enjoy using other people’s sound to draw from, as music is important to my life and my work. I would love to be able to play music as well as work from it, and I admire current artists such as Andy Holden, Maria Zahle and Mark Dean who are able to do both.
Erika H. Winstone (b. 1957 London) holds a MA Fine Art and Teaching in HIgher Education from Kingston University, a Postgraduate Diploma Fine Art from The Slade School of Art and a BA Hons. Fine Art from Camberwell College of Art. She is an elected member of The London Group and a founder member of [NAME] a collaboration between 4 artists; Sue Glasgow, Charlotte Betts and Lucy Lauener. She exhibits internationally and this year will be exhibiting in the following; ‘Lustrous Lines’ exhibition at the Norfolk Arts Center, Norfolk, Nebraska and the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka. Her work is being featured in the catalogue for the exhibition; “Drawing with Silver and Gold” at The National Gallery of Art Washington, March 2015 and The British Museum in London, Sept. 2015. She will be exhibiting in contemporary exhibitions including “Bridge” at The Cello Factory London, and a contemporary silverpoint exhibition at The Patrick Heide Gallery London September 2015.
She also is a curator and has curated the following exhibitions; ‘Ch-Ch-Ch-Changing’, 2013 and “Surface” 2012 at the Griffin Gallery, London. ‘The Other Side’ 2009 Crypt Gallery, London. ‘Peter Stanley & Friends‘, 2009. Hortensia Gallery, London and co- curated ‘Love Story’, 2004 Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London. Erika lives and works in London.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.