Trish Wylie interview by Javier Melian, co-founder

Her iconic paintings decorate many boardrooms and are sought after pieces by important collectors. Her eclectic base of loyal followers has turned her work into a cult. She has Sir Christopher Frayling championing her work. She really has earned her golden star, and her coming solo show at the Belgravia Gallery in London is already generating a lot of excitement.

Daughter of a saddle maker, Trish Wylie grew up in London in a family of ten children, her father was a craftsman a vital man, inspiring but oppressive at the same time. When she was about three, she would draw in the margins of Encyclopedia Britannica, later moved on to bedroom walls with lipstick. She always loved making images and using many materials.

Trish grew up on a council estate in South London as a total tomboy, often playing on the many bomb sites with friends, experiencing adventure in physical play. The boundless freedom she experienced as a child drastically changed when she came into puberty as the world suddenly shrunk. Her life became a role ruled by gender politics, a topic that has interested her ever since. She attended Camberwell in her mid 20’s and whilst studying had her first of two daughters, a year after graduation she moved with her family to Bridport in Dorset. Her and her husband wanted their children to experience as much personal freedom as they had done in post war London but by the 1980’s had become a thing of the past.

Her early work was non figurative, often large gestural paintings using household paints, concerned with the process and materials. Later her interest in identity formulated into large encaustic paintings of fingerprints and lip prints. It was in her late 40’s that she returned to looking at an earlier passion, that of cinema and particularly the western, a cultural input from her childhood, she could relate to the youth and freedom of the Cowboys, and this became a theme which has continued to hold her interest.

There was a natural progression into cinematic genre. “Films are stories where you feel you are part of it. It’s the Art form of the twentieth century and I wanted to paint it”. And she did, masterfully, with canvas sizes that reproduced movie screen aspect ratios. “Aspect ratios are much to do with the time when the movie was shot. The history of aspect ratios it itself very interesting; Technicolor, injected colour, and the use of special cameras…the technology would eventually be restrictive to what you want to shoot, however this otherworldliness of old films adds beauty to it all”. This loop between films and painting is common with important directors of all times. Akira Kurosawa, Sergio Leone and John Ford to name a few, all painted and used painting to inform their films.

Her timeless images of Western movies have gained adepts throughout the years. Trish was reaching the freedom she missed, holding tight on the reins of her own destiny.

There is an emotional and symbolic anecdote that Trish tells, illustrating her Father’s gift with leatherwork, Trish had a chair at home, made of canvas, that she was particularly fond of, it was very comfortable to rest on in her studio, but its materials weren’t’t really made to last. She asked her father if he could do something with it. Without a pattern of the old fabric seat, he worked out the pattern and made the seat from one skin of leather. He had sleepless nights over it, resulting in success, he made a beautiful chair. He told her it was so difficult never to ask him to do anything like that again, he was 83. Tremendous effort that this was, Trish remembers his father reinvigorated by the experience. His mental sharpness returned, so did some of his strength and skill.

Her father died two years ago. She kept many of his tools, his final gift was ultimately the saddle Trish needed to ride the wild horse of possibility into the infinite horizons of destiny.

Trish now works and lives in West London London with her husband.

Self taught or art school?

Art school, Camberwell.

If you could own one work of art what would it be?

Any painting from Helen Frankenthaler’s Mountains and Sea series or Judith slaying Holofernes by Artemesia Gentileschi.

What are your favorite places to view art?

Recently I have become enamored of the RA, particularly since their renovations of much of the building, and MOMA in New York.

Who are your favourite artists and why?

I have many favorite painters to name a few are, Artemesia Genteleschi for her dynamic compositions and use of light, Helen Frankenthaler for her expansive and expressive use of translucent paint, Robert Motherwell for his ability to express ideas and moods with color and movement of paint, Matisse for his harmony of color and exquisite balance in everything, and Jenny Saville for her confrontational compositions and gestural use of paint.

What or who inspires your art?

Films and paintings inspire me and light, and those moments when doing something else an idea pops into my head, it can also be music or something I’ve read, in fact I can get excited about a lot of things, that somehow feed into my work.

Where’s your studio and what’s it like?

My studio is in an ex office block, on the edge of an industrial estate in West London it has central heating which I love, as previous studios have always been impossible to heat adequately, so it means I can work through the winter months comfortably.

Do you have any studio rituals?

Yes, once I have unlocked my studio I hang up my coat, switch on the radio and then go upstairs to a communal kitchen and make my first of two cups of coffee, I then look at whatever I’m working on whilst drinking my coffee.

What are you working on currently?

At this moment a large oil 8 x 5′ of cowboys from the film Tombstone, which will be in my solo show at the Belgravia Gallery, Maddox St.

Where can we buy your art?

The Belgravia Gallery.

What are your ambitions?

My ambitions are to think bigger and paint with all my heart.

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