Ever heard of a mythology-obsessed silkscreen printer, who didn't like getting dirty? Well you need to read more about Not Now Nancy! She bares all for us in our blog. We thank her for her honesty, humour and determination to make the most out of what life has to offer.
Please tell us a bit about yourself, and the journey you took to become an artist.
After working on the graphic design industry for about 20 years, I took a screen printing course at the Thames Side Print Studios and immediately fell in love with it. What started as a hobby turned into a second career pretty quickly, and almost accidentally.
I Live and design from my office in Bromley but produce my screen-print work at the Thames Barrier studios. I did experiment with screen printing when I was at University but found the whole process to be extremely messy and hated the ink getting under my nails.
After 20 years as a Graphic designer (working in the cleaner world of computers and pristine offices) I obviously never overcame this, and the other members of the print studio have dubbed me the cleanest printmaker they’ve ever met.
What helped you to get to where you are today? Are there any people, events, or experiences that encouraged you or influenced you to do what it is that you do?
Not really. I have constantly tried new things and managed to evolve throughout my life. I have dabbled in creative copywriting, illustration and I have even written a novel and an anthology of poetry (looking for a publisher).
Throughout my life I have always challenged myself to venture down new paths and push myself out of my comfort zone. I might try portraiture next.
What was the first piece of art that moved you? What was it about it that grabbed you?
The only piece of art that ever ‘moved me’ was Michael Angelo's “David”. I wasn’t expecting it to. In fact, sculpture has never really been my thing. But there was something majestic and awe-inspiring about him. I was captivated. He rooted me to the spot for at least half an hour, just enjoying being in his presence, as though there was a tiny piece of Michael Angelo trapped beneath the surface. It sounds a little corny, but no other piece of art has ever made me feel like that, and I have seen quite a few!
Where do you get your inspiration from? Any tips for fellow artists who are having a bit of a dry spell?
My prints embody forgotten themes from mythology, folklore and history books. I try to bring together contemporary visual symmetry and a historical narrative, to create one harmonious image.
I am obsessed with mythology: Japanese, Greek, Roman, Viking. There is a wealth of knowledge to be found within it and I can usually find a way to translate it into a modern take on something familiar.
The only advice I would give to anyone having a dry spell is don’t be afraid of creating something crap, even if you expect it to be crap from the outset. You never know where it can lead you, or how it could end up. Just don’t stop.
Where do you work best from? Do you have any habits, or a routine, that help you harness your creativity?
Although I spend a lot of time working by myself, I hate it. I work better being surrounded by other creatives. There is nothing worse than thinking you have produced something amazing, but having no one to share it with, or ask the opinion of.
I collect things and keep sketchbooks (they come everywhere with me and travelled around the world). I write poetry which I sometimes can translate into a visual thing, and use it in my work.
The only other real habit I have is the four cups of tea I drink in the morning, and the need to get up early to watch Big Brother or Love Island before I begin work. It is my guilty pleasure.
What is your current favourite piece in your own body of work? Why does it hold a special place in your heart?
Calypso Waiting has to be my favourite piece. It was the first time I really let the work emulate a theme from mythology. From that moment, I never looked back. Many of my pieces of work have a real story behind them that I have tried to portray.
Here is the story of Calypso and why she is waiting :
Calypso is remembered the most for her role in Homer’s Odyssey, in which she attempts to keep the fabled Greek hero Odysseus on her island to make him her immortal husband. According to Homer, Calypso kept Odysseus prisoner at Ogygia for seven years.
Calypso enchants Odysseus with her singing as she moves to and fro, weaving on her loom with a golden shuttle. During this time they have sex together, although Odysseus soon comes to wish for circumstances to change.
Odysseus can no longer bear being separated from his wife Penelope and wants to go to Calypso to tell her. His patron goddess Athena asks Zeus to order the release of Odysseus from the island, and Zeus orders the messenger Hermes to tell Calypso to set Odysseus free, for it was not his destiny to live with her forever.
She angrily comments on how the gods hate goddesses having affairs with mortals, but eventually concedes, sending Odysseus on his way after providing him with wine, bread, and the materials for a raft.
What was the latest piece of art that you bought yourself? If you could choose four pieces of work from the Artsnug collection, what would they be?
I bought Pink Car Selfie by Chris Guest, it hangs in my hallway.
The pieces I would choose from ArtSnug would be:
Clare Halifax – What a Waterlilly (I love the vintage book illustration style)
Andrew J Millar – Metamorphosis (In fact I own this one already!)
Cassandra Yap – Deliverance Iridescent Blue Foil (Purely because I know how bloody hard it is to work with foil! Cudos!)
Andrew J Millar - The Flowers Whirl Away (Love his stuff, I want to buy another one)
I also love Lucille Clerc’s work