Patricia Volk is an incredible award-winning artist that we’ve wanted to interview for sometime! We first saw her wonderful sculptures online and were instantly taken with their strength and beauty. Graduating as a mature student in 1989 Patricia has been exhibiting widely across Britain and America ever since. Held in many private collections including Lord Carrington and Sir John Mortimer Patricia is an artist that is making her mark within the art world. Commissioned for several works such ‘The Water Deities’ and ‘Audience and Muse’ and has been written about in many publications including The Sculptors Bible by John Plowman.
Patricia spent 15 years creating the bold ceramic heads she is known for. Symbolic and semi abstract ,visually stunning pieces that combine ancient and contemporary influences with such beauty of line, form and colour. When I first saw ‘Sentinal Blue’ I had an urge not just to admire her work but to feel the artwork such was the power and drama of the piece. More recently Patricia has moved away from creating figurative art and has concentrated on form and line in her abstract work. The Juxtapositions of shape and colour create such an intense and captivating beauty within her art. Patricia is without doubt one of our greatest sculptors and it’s such a pleasure to show a sample of her spectacular creations here. Thank you Patricia for sharing your distinctive work with us.
Self taught or art school?
I was born in Belfast and at the time I went to school the possibility of me becoming an artist for a living just felt like so much of an impossible fantasy, but it was always my dream. Well, eventually, after various jobs, I applied and got into art school as a mature student, first of all to what was then Middlesex Poly, then to Bath. I did three dimensional design, specialising in ceramics. (In some ways if I could go back, I would do Fine Art.) However, I was never that interested in the discipline of being a “potter” – I found that clay was a great way of expressing myself, but as for the endless repetition and the glazes, that didn’t interest me at all. I always wanted to create a unique piece and move on to the next one.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
I would love to have a Richard Serra right in the middle of my garden, but I think the neighbours might object. And my garden would have to be ten times bigger. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say no to a Barbara Hepworth. I’d love one of her drawings of the surgeons doing operations.
How would you describe your style?
It’s weird to talk about a “style” – it is just an extension of what I do, the practice of making things which if you do it long enough, a common theme or look emerges – but it is a bad idea to be too conscious or self-conscious of it. I can say that my concern is all about the line and the form, the simplicity of those two things which is an abstract idea but if you get it right – whatever “right” is – it can take the breath away. That’s what I aspire to, anyway. If I have achieved a form that is pleasing or dynamic or hopefully both (i.e. dramatic in some way) then how I paint the surface might be to emphasise what I see or to contradict it. The patterns, for instance, may be to break up the surface visually or to direct your eye around it in a certain way – but they are not just functional, there’s an emotional side which is the idea that these spots or rings or lozenge shapes represent a myriad of thoughts, or moments or journeys: the idea that we “wear” our inner life on our skin, so to speak.
Where are your favourite places to view art?
Definitely my favourite place is Venice during the Biennale. It’s my idea of heaven to be not only in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, but being able to see the cream of the world’s art all within walking distance. Obviously not everything is fantastic, or to your personal taste, but the sheer quantity gives such food for thought it is truly mesmerizing. I can’t wait for 2015!
Who are your favourite artists and why?
I love Peter Randall Page and Anish Kapoor, but the simplicity of Brancusi is divine. Last week in St Ives at the Tate, I saw a Brancusi sculpture on exhibition next to a piece by the potter Bernard Leach and frankly I was completely outraged. To me it was like seeing a pig put beside a princess. I think I am moving more and more toward exceptional simplicity and simplicity of colour. I saw a painting the other day that was a pure, unadulterated triumph by simply putting two colours together: nothing else. And of the hundred-odd paintings on the wall, that was probably the one I would have wanted to own.
What or who inspires your art?
You never know where inspiration comes from and it may not be what you expect. Mainly, as I am now involved in mainly abstract forms, it is all about what the clay gives you that day and what you make of it – literally. That might be a complex mixture of the weather and my mood swings. It’s all unpredictable and I don’t try to predict it. I don’t do drawings (or if I do they are very skimpy ideas just so that I don’t forget a thought, for instance how one element might fall against another or one shape might set another off) – but even when I do life drawings (always a good idea for any artist to sharpen the eye) it is all about capturing the perfect line – or the “imperfect” line or curve that for an instant feels exciting.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
I am based on Stowford Manor Farm in Wiltshire, not far from where I live in Bradford on Avon. I like it there because there is a community of people who work with their hands. There is another ceramicist, but also a cabinet-maker and a few stone masons and another sculptor – we all do very different work but we are like little woodland creatures who occasionally come out and sniff the air and nose around in each other’s holes.
Do you have any studio rituals?
I try to work every day and think of it as a day job. Inspiration doesn’t strike like a thunderbolt, so you have to go at it doggedly and trust that the process and your own skill and drive will produce something and if you keep going that “something” will turn out to be worthwhile. I suppose I was brought up with a Protestant work ethic. My father was a builder and as a child I got a thrill out of being with him and the other men he employed and I would be given their tools to play with. Perhaps that was an act of trust, way back then, which I am trying to repay by making something “well-made”.
What are you working on currently?
I’m getting bigger! To hell with modesty! I am concentrating on pieces that go in the kiln in two halves so that when they are put together they will have a bit more drama and strength. It’s all part of my natural inclination to be more of a sculptor and less of a ceramicist. I’m not apologetic about the material I choose to work in, but it annoys me when people assume because I use clay and fire it it is somehow automatically “craft”. I’ve also recently made some wall pieces which are not ceramic – just to confuse them! The material doesn’t matter in the end. Whatever material I would use, it would still be me. That is what I‘ve discovered, anyway.
Where can we buy your art?
At the moment I have pieces at the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Gallery in Surrey, The Bevere Gallery in Worcester, The Lemon Street Gallery in Truro, The Sculpture Park in Farnham, McAllister Thomas Fine Art in Godalming and The Beukenholf-Phoenix Galleries in Belgium – but I always have some in my studio so that clients can buy direct or visit if they wish, and I try to update my website with what is currently available, too.
What are your ambitions?
To keep working as hard as I can. If you aim for too much material success you will not only risk disappointment but it takes focus away from what is important which is producing the work and testing yourself by pushing the boundaries of what interests you. The only real ambition for an artist should be to get better – though we all need financial security, so it Mr Saatchi or Mr Serota were to read this I wouldn’t be displeased. To be noticed by a wider public is not to be sneezed at!
You can view more work at www.patriciavolk.co.uk
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