Digswell Arts fellow Dave Nelson based at The Forge is our featured artist of the month.
How would you describe your current practice (eg materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)?
I am a painter. My work is a meditation of the world around me, and my role in it. I am concerned with the landscape, materials, technique and texture. My paintings are layered with material. I like you to see how every mark is made, every piece assembled. I use natural and organic overlaying of structure and form – marks, scrapings, symbols, colour and collage building on my panels.
What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops, etc)?
I have just opened in a new exhibition at the University of Hertfordshire http://www.uharts.co.uk/whats-on/2020/spring-summer/poetics-of-place. Titled ‘The Poetics of Place’, the exhibited works respond directly to the theme of place – the artist’s home in particular. Drawing from the emotional responses to my changing family life, my paintings in the show explore the empty nest syndrome, and feelings of loss, change and adjustment. Midway through working for the show, the sudden arrival of lockdown changed the family circumstances yet again, and elements of that readjustment and reconnection began to emerge in the work. The theme of place is inherently linked with the themes of time and memory,and my works reflect this change in the tones of my home and memories of family life moving on.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I have been accepted onto the Turps Banana Art School Studio programme, starting in October next year. Turps Banana is a well-respected alternative Art School, focussed on painters, and what painting is now. It provides a dynamic structure of mentoring, peer-led learning, talks and visitors within an open studio environment. I have been at Digswell for 4 years now, so this is a natural progression for me as I continue to develop my painting.
What or Who Inspires me?
I try and find joy in every moment, and the things that surround me, or that I am interested in. These elements often appear in the work, sometimes in surprising ways. As I work intuitively, elements are selected from my sub-conscious as I work. I often consciously think about what I notice in my daily life. Capturing these fleeting moments, I work to store the colours, textures, memories away for re-use. I try and be very open, taking something from all I see.
Which artists do you most admire and why?
I view as much art as possible, especially painting, especially being made now. I admire a whole range of artists (and not even just painters). To become an artist in any age is extremely difficult, and all successful ones have worked for decades to hone and develop their work. Being this dedicated takes supreme courage and self-confidence, and therefore all artists have something to tell you. I try to listen to it all. I want my work to be unique, and not fit a particular genre or set of ideological principles.
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?
Joining the thriving artistic community at Digswell was a major factor in starting to believe in myself as an artist, and to have confidence in what I do. The superb facilities on offer, combined with being part of such a supportive and vibrant artistic community, has allowed my work to both change rapidly and really flourish.