‘Feelings as reaction to life’ – Spotlight on artist Alison Meek
See more of Alison’s work at: www.alisonmeek.artweb.com
Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
Hello, my name is Alison Meek and I have been drawing all my life. I have exhibited and sold work since the 1980s, mostly whilst also working full time.
When did you decide to pursue art as a career?
After I left art college, I travelled around Asia and lived in Australia, where I started to really appreciate using colour in my work. I had the chance to work as an artist for a few years there, when I exhibited regularly and ran a local art market, with cards of my work in many local outlets including the Museum of Modern Art in Sydney. I also took on commissions, including for nudes for private clients. Although I had been working in another profession during most of my time back in London, I have always maintained drawing and exhibiting.
What training did you have?
I did my foundation at St Martin’s in London and my degree in Fine Art at Hornsey College of Art. Recently I took a credited course at Sotheby’s in the Foundations of Western Art.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Each day improves my skills and increases my experience, so I would like to say that today, for me, is the highlight as I add to my expertise. However, I was also delighted to sell a picture last year that was really important to me, in its style, its meaning and also its value: that someone else appreciated all of these means a lot to me.
Who is your favourite artist?
A combination of Matisse, Joseph Beuys and Van Eyck, with someone contemporary thrown in, my friend, Marian English.
What are you aiming for?
To have enough exposure of my work that I could support myself from sales and dedicate all my time to being creative.
How will you get there?
Keep on working, updating my website, opening up more contacts.
Is anything holding you back?
Getting the initial momentum.
You and art
What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?
I love it when someone feels that the picture resonates with them. I try to create an image which has its own internal tensions and balances and if that can be felt by someone else, I feel that I have succeeded. It is not a case of having to know what it is about, as I rarely tell people, but more that it creates a sensation that they respond to.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
This can vary, as I often work on a few at a time, as a series, or a few different ways of expressing the same idea. They could be finished in a day, if they are smaller pictures, but larger ones take longer and I may come back to them a few times before I am happy that they are finished
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
My favourites are Janis Joplin, especially Bobby McGee and the sound track to Pulp Fiction. However, I need silence at the start of new pictures as they need to form in a void.
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
I am back to life drawing at the moment, so there will be a development from that. I am also working on my skills in oil painting through initial studies of fruit, so who knows where this will go.
I have also recently become more interested in the history of art and the impact of cultural exchanges on aesthetics and have started to give talks: as well as a weekly talk on maiolica as used for apothecary jars (at the Museum of the Order of St John), I also lecture on Japonsime at the U3A in Hampstead and will be delivering a course at City Lit from January, which will be on their prospectus from the end of October. I am interested in creating a drawing course based on the major movements in art from Classical times to contemporary practice and would like to know if this idea interests anyone, as I can deliver this anywhere in London.
Being inspired by art
Who (living or dead) inspires you? and why?
Many female artists as they had to be so much more than their male counterparts. Historically, Artemesia Gentileschi, as she was up there with the best of her time, as was Louise Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun, and more recently, Judy Chicago, Louise Borgeois and Diane Arbus. I love the feminist ‘in your face’ attitiude, with the size and challenging of female stereotypical expectations.
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
Feelings as reaction to life: the concept that awareness is a state outside language, of a universality of image that may certainly be informed by appreciation of time and place but is not limited by having been there. I have studied with others from around the world, from South America and Africa to Korea, China and Japan and we can speak the same language through appreciation of art, regardless of what we grew up with.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
One of the was certainly the picture that I referred to earlier, that I sold last year. I don’t want to embarrass the person who bought it so I won ‘t name it, but I am sure that they would recognise this and I hope appreciate this.
an artist’s advice
For those thinking about turning a passion for art into a career, could you give any advice?
Try to work out a way to keep working at your passion, even if you can’t just make a living out of art, as it will always be there for you and there will be times when you get the chance to dedicate yourself to it 100 percent.
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
I am still working on this: when I was in Sydney, before the electronic age, we had a local art market that became well known and had many visitors, who were happy to buy more cheaply direct from the artist. It was important to have new work each time so if people returned they had fresh things to look at. I hope to replicate this electronically but am new to this at the moment.