Artist's Statement

Hated school, elected Head-boy. I screwed-up almost every exam I've ever took. I almost left university, and I was almost kicked-out of that institution too. However, I ran-out of roles to play as a fledgling actor at University and ended up with a Political Studies degree where I learnt how to pick-up on platitudes and rudimentary deception. I went to work in the US with Sane/Freeze and Greenpeace and then in Barcelona, where the only language i learnt was the language of other TEFL Teachers. I also travelled outside the arc of Art circles because I kept running into people like me, which I finally shook-off in London, penniless and knackered. But knackered is a good place to start for self-transformation with the lifeblood of colour. 

About the Artist

As a young bloke I'd traveled before and after University, trying to find-out what I valued,sleeping on trains, platforms, derelict roof tops,ferries and fishing boats, constantly changing plans to keep things fresh, trying-out  different personas in different contexts. I'd been in a play or two before and at University, and someone even let me co-direct - experimenting did little to loosen-up the hard lines of Politics of the 80s for me. It wasn't until I did an evening course at Leeds Art College that things felt right. I rarely attended, but it set me off ! I had no idea what to expect or if I was going to be any good, but in those days I had a knack of bumping into the right and wrong experiences that fed me with the inspiration to Paint.

I used to paint on recycled chip-board but realized that the canvas wasn't a relic from the past, but accessible, portable and cheap.  No, I don't make my own canvases because it would be a distraction. I used to paint exclusively in oils but now in acrylic, a contemporary medium which sustains its harsh but vibrant colour and dries without loss of visual integrity. It also gives me the non-gloss result that I can alter if I choose to do so. I mainly paint indoors but without the need for company and I don't follow a visual subject in my line of vision. The incidental or trivial often  'jump- starts'  the process.

 

Normally I start by rationalizing and then I then go off-piste' on full improvisation mode. The temptation is to reverse the sequence, but I have no real way of telling which will engage me first? I tend to gradually come to an image by getting rid of its more obvious mistakes, and with that lies the element of control in the outcome that  emerges. I never know when a Painting is finished, and I often go back to a Painting to correct what I'd missed. Everything is essential nothing is a sacred cow.


Painting is unrelenting; I'm both horrified and inspired by its demands. I write and occasionally sculpt  and my positive if compulsive attitude both affords the blind naivety and unsettling nature of my work. This is a system that accommodates all the contrariness and idiosyncratic meanderings of a restive spirit.

© 2019 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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