CAROLINE POPHAM

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

CP: I describe my work as abstract partly to resist a set interpretation of it, or a set of expectations. I work on both canvas and paper, as a painter, and also in collage. 

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

CP: A lot of my work is instinctive, and it is not until the moment of making it has passed that I can recognize the thought behind it. A lot of my work is autobiographically grounded, or has its roots in an observation from the world and the people around me; though I could rarely have articulated the thought before I’d painted it. So, it would be hard to say whether it was from the iteration of the painting that the thought proceeded, or vice versa. 

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

CP: I use sketchbooks constantly and they form the beginning of a piece of work. They comprise of writing, drawings, collage and painting sometimes exploring a train of thought. I move through them quite fast and enjoy the experience of making them. When I revisit them months or years later, I can see pathways of future work. 

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

CP: I hope that the viewer will find something that resonates with them, be it a feeling, sensation or memory. I appreciate that not everyone will like it! That’s important, in a way, since I am fascinated by intentionality and its limits, and love the idea of having spurred a thought or a feeling that wasn’t at all in my head as I was creating it. Different people having their own, very divergent, individual responses is what makes the work a living thing. 

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

CP: I am fairly disciplined. I have a studio about a 20 minute cycle from home and I go pretty much every week day. A trick I learned early on is to leave something from the day before to come back to so as to avoid staring at a blank canvas! Alongside studio work I seem to have a continual stack of the business side of being an artist which I find less appealing. For every painting there is the photographing and documenting which goes along with it…

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there? 

CP: I do a bit of both. I am not too set and often love the outcome of an unplanned work although the multitude of paintings which don’t work along the way can be demoralizing. Other days I have an intention of what I’d like to paint and go from there. 

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

CP: It would be along the lines of a reflective tenacity. Sometimes you have to keep going, sometimes you have to be flexible and experiment with something new, sometimes you need to tear the whole thing up. You have to stay very open to know which is right, which can feel quite risky and undefended. So maybe bravery is the lesson. 

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

CP: In terms of a painting I think it is important because ultimately the work is from your view point. I like beautiful things. That said incredibly poignant work is not necessarily stylish or tasteful as the content is more important than the aesthetic. In terms of life no, it is not of upmost importance, but it can give great pleasure. 

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

CP: Uncertainty is one: knowing what direction to take work, and whether or not you’re embarking on the wrong road.  Rejection is part of the journey, and that is never easy. Self-reliance is incredibly important, but can feel like solitude. 

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

CP: The freedom. That is something I HAVE to have. I miss my studio when I take a break away from it. I love to be in a flow state of making where time stands still, and it is all consuming. It feels great. 

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

CP: Today, I love an Australian artist called Amber Wallis. Yesterday it was Vivian Suter, the day before was Rita Ackerman.  Artists are like composers and authors, the ones you don’t admire you never think about, and the ones you do admire, you could never rank, they flow in and out and too many to list. 

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

CP: I don’t use it for my work other than to photograph my work at the end and to share it online 

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

CP: I don’t know what’s in an accountant’s head. They might be going through incredible flights of fancy; they might be gripped by numbers the way I am by textures. So, I would never say I see the world differently, or that there’s a ‘creative’ and ‘uncreative’ path. All I know is that I’m liberated by the work I do.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

CP: I love to travel but don’t have a favorite city. I live in London so prefer the quiet and space when I go away. I love somewhere hot, near the sea and ideally a pine forest.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

CP: I love to read. Currently I am reading Outline by Rachel Cusk. I couldn’t name a favorite book as its fluid, but recent memorable reads are A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. 

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

CP: To grow with it, to see where it takes me.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

CP: It is who I am.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?

CP: * Looks on Spotify – I ❤ U SO, Cassius 

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

CP: To convey a sensation or feeling. To have balance, for the colors to speak.

CHECK OUT MORE ON: CAROLINE POPHAM

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