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Turning sleep II – Mixed media on aluminium sheet

Every so often Trivial Pursuits will be interviewing up-and-coming artists in a feature we’re calling Spotlight. Ahead of her mini-show at Portobello’s Crate Gallery, we caught up with mixed media painter Charlie Calder-Potts.

Edward Lines: If you had to show someone who had never seen your work before, just one work from the start of your career to now, what would it be?

Charlie Calder-Potts: That’s such a hard question. At the moment probably Leaving behind the salt wind. Although I completed this piece recently, the photograph used here I took about three years ago. At the time I felt this image wouldn’t work as a painting however, about four months ago I picked it up again and began working on it as part of my Eurydice series (a London based series with titles taken from the poem of the same name by Sue Hubbard). Often I abandon certain pieces or themes only to revisit them months or even years later: what seems like a useless composition or concept initially can eventually trigger a whole new series. This was the case with Leaving behind the salt wind which prompted a new direction for me.

Leaving behind the salt wind

EL: Your paintings often contain a variety of media and there appears to be a relatively complex technique involved in producing the finished work, yet you describe yourself as ‘self-taught’. How would you describe the learning journey that has led you to this point?

CC-P: I think that whether you are a ‘trained’ or ‘untrained’ artist, experimenting with media is key to developing your work. It was an obsession with light which led me to painting on metal sheet (copper, aluminium, brass and steel). I wanted to show a transient and enduring light; the reflective quality of metal allowed for this. It is an ongoing process, and there are things I am constantly learning about my chosen materials. I definitely feel that there is a long way to go and hope to expand my understanding of my tools and their potential.

EL: You mention the “concept of displacement and the isolation of the individual” in your painting. That all sounds quite gloomy. Do you think it is reasonable to suggest that, in many cases, one can find more positive messages in there, perhaps hope or innocence?

The Sleepy Man Of Winter

CC-P: Commonly ‘displacement’ and ‘isolation’ are perceived as negative, but they can enforce positive outcomes. In these situations you are often required to push yourself and achieve things that otherwise you might not have even contemplated. As you say, there are messages of hope and innocence in my imagery – these go hand in hand with isolation and displacement. I believe hope cannot truly exist without a situation which requires you to search for it.

EL: Leaving Behind the Salt Wind; Thine Angels Kept; Lead, Kindly Light, Amid the Encircling Gloom. How do you come up with the titles for your works?

CC-P: The titles for my pieces are all inspired by literature, predominantly poetry. These help to bind my works together as a series, and hopefully even offer a form of narrative. Literary sources form a structure to a theme and I have used a variety of sources to achieve this; from 17th century religious allegory such as John Bunyan’s A Pilgrims Progress to classical verse such as Ovid’s Metamorphosis.

EL: The Crate describes itself as a 10 by 18 foot project space and you’ve been known in the past to produce some fairly large-scale commissions that would barely fit in. What’s making you return to The Crate for the second time?

The Crate

CC-P: Both large and small works offer different challenges and through that have their own qualities and attributes. I love working with both and don’t think I could cope only working on either a small or large scale. The Crate provides a great opportunity to show prints alongside small originals without either being overshadowed. Often when large metalwork is hung alongside small work on paper they are eclipsed – The Crate is a great space to show smaller works without them getting lost.

EL: After this exhibition, what’s next on your agenda?

CC-P: I am currently working towards my up-coming exhibitions over the summer: I’ve got a show at the Belgravia Gallery in London, Rebecca Hossack in New York and Byard Art in Amsterdam and Singapore.

I’ll also have three large pieces at the Belgravia Gallery’s summer show beginning in mid June (6ft x 4ft aluminium panels), and then several small works going to New York with Rebecca Hossack Gallery for Art Hamptons later that month.

I’m also focusing on my largest single work to date – an 8ft x 6ft private commission on aluminium panel to be installed at the end of July.

Charlie Calder-Potts: Prints and Small Works is on at The Crate from 30-31 May. 3 Dunworth Mews, London, W11 1LE

For further information and details of future shows and projects see www.charliecalder-potts.com