Hello and welcome to our brand new blog feature! This series will focus on our wonderful artists; their artistic inspirations, personal favourites, thoughts and ideas. This will all be in the form of an interview, with supporting photographs of the artists' works. I sincerely hope that all readers enjoy this insight and behind-the-scenes look into the creative process of our artists.
Our first instalment of this series begins with artist Felix Akulw, and we are currently hosting his vibrant exhibition in our Main Gallery! This exhibition will finish on Saturday 4th July so be sure to come to the Gallery to experience it before it goes.
Q. From what/whom do you draw your artistic inspiration? A. It could be anything from the natural or urban environment in which I happen to find myself - shapes, colours, forms and their infinite inter-relationships are all grist for my inspirational mill. I am not much of a recorder in a sketch book sense but I am constantly look, look, looking and mentally clocking relationships of interest. Q. What motivates you to get up in the morning? A. The best motivation for getting me into action is currently my artwork. My painting room is actually next to my bedroom so I can literally jump out of bed and into the studio. I will then assess and reflect upon the previous days endeavours and hopefully see a path forward. I like to take a shower and sometimes a walk around the Gnoll to wake myself up and often get my best ideas whilst doing so. Some days are a breeze but there are plenty of what I call hard slog days when its a battle to get those ideas realised. Q. What was the inspiration behind your current exhibition? A. The inspirations behind the current exhibition were many and varied. I tend to have the news radio on in the background so I am often influenced unconsciously by what is being broadcast. For instance, this whole Brexit debate was constantly being discussed and some of the paintings reference borders, constraints and freedom of movement. There are references to the political in-fighting of the last 18 months as well as to the sense I have of big changes on the social and political front which have certainly been vindicated in the light of the Covid experience. Other paintings reference some of my travel experiences particularly my love of colourful and vibrant outdoor market life. Some of the acrylic paintings reflect some of my scientific interests and others more existential issues of mortality. Q. Were you pleased with the outcome of the exhibition? A. I am very pleased with the exhibition as a whole. The gallery space itself is beautiful and it is a great opportunity to look at the whole body of work and observe the development of ideas and changes in direction over 18 months of painting that is represented here.
Q. How have you been creatively passing time during lock-down? A. We had a fantastic opening to the exhibition and I didn't really know how I would creatively proceed afterwards. I had a couple of days reflecting upon things and then the lock-down hit us and so it was back to the brushes with a renewed vigour I am happy to say. Q. Did you always want to be an artist? A. I can't really say whether I always wanted to be an artist. its just something I always did from a young age and I had no particular ambitions in other directions. But once I had embarked upon my foundation course at Cardiff art college there was really no other direction that interested me. Q. What is something that you enjoy getting up to in your spare time, outside of art? A. I have always liked and played summer sports - cricket, golf and tennis - and so they have provided plenty of extra-curricular activity over the years. More recently walking is my main exercise and is the time I get quite a lot of my ideas. I also love to read contemporary fiction and try to keep up with what is going on musically. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in a day! Q. What advice would you give to any aspiring artists out there reading this? A. The best advice I can give any aspiring artist is to just DO IT. Be brave, grab the bull by the horns, run with your ideas, be your own sternest critic, embrace the fear and just DO IT! Q. Do you have a favourite artist/piece of art? A. I have so many favourite artists who I think are relevant for a whole range of different reasons. Piero della Francesca, Vermeer, Dufy, Matisse, van Gogh, Wyndham Lewis, David Hockney, John Hoyland, Albert Irvin - I love them all and I love just scrolling through Instagram and marvelling at the range and diversity of what is going on creatively. Q. Do you have anything exciting in the works that you are enjoying/looking forward to sharing? A. Well, with the help of lock-down, I have been pretty focused and a new batch of acrylic paintings and watercolours are springing into life. There is a new series called Portals in production which I hope to be exhibiting in due course.
I have attached a small selection of photographs of Felix's current exhibition here at the gallery - if you're interested in having a further look at Felix's art work (which I'm sure you are!) then check out our catalogue of his work in the 'artists' section of our website, or check him out on Instagram at @felix_akulw - and be sure to catch the exhibition before it goes!
Thank you for reading the first of many 'Artist In The Spotlight' pieces!
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