We sat down with our very first Sixteen Gallery exhibitor John Gordon, to talk about his life and influences featured in his upcoming exhibit.
What do you think of the art scene in Cheltenham?
"I think it’s good, but I think it could be a lot better. I just think it’s really nice that a lot of extra galleries are coming into Cheltenham. I think the more galleries the better to me."
Do you work from a studio?
"No, I work from my kitchen. I’d like to have a studio, in fact if I could move, I would move and find somewhere with a studio. I think it makes it quite a challenge and maybe that’s a good thing."
How long have you had an interest in art?
"Since I was about 4. I used to draw silly things and my mother use to keep them. I don’t know where they are now but yeah around that age."
Did you go to art school?
"Yes, I went to West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham. I did an industrial design course there, so it was either commercial design, surface design or industrial design. I did a one-year foundation course and then I did 3 years full time and I’ve got a SIAD diploma in art and design."
Have you always worked in the art industry?
"No, I was a commercial artist for 42 years in London and for a small amount of time down here but work started tended to dry up so that’s when I went off and did something else."
What are you hoping to achieve with this exhibition?
"I’m hoping to bring awareness to my work. I suppose it’s about opening up to something other than what other people do. I think what I do is different - it’s all pastel, conté and pencil. The paintings range from a sort of small medium size, to quite large, I just think it gives a different look of things. I do sort of mossy pictures of trees and some life drawings. It’s a mixed bag."
Is this your first exhibition?
"No, I had one two years ago at Chapel Arts Cheltenham and that was quite successful. I had about 18 paintings there."
What advice do you have for other artists hoping to get into galleries?
"Never give up. Never ever give up. Also, with any art or anything creative, you’ll always going to have a block or you’re always going to have a time when whatever you do just doesn’t work, and my advice then, is to don’t try and do it. Just put your pencil down and leave it for another day, hopefully, it will work next time."
What inspired you to create this art?
"I love trees, and I love the texture of moss. I’m also interested in people and structure. Certainly, anything related to renaissance art, people like Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian, any of that lot. I’d love to go to Florence; I haven’t been to Florence, I’m ashamed to say that! Some of my stuff, not all, is a tribute to renaissance work."
Why did you choose these subjects?
"Oh, that’s a difficult question! I think because they’re challenging, they’re different and there’s a different perspective so you’re looking at something from a different angle. They are sort of representative, but not really, there’s a bit of both. Of course, you know what you’re looking at, but I take a different angle."
Are you influenced by other artists?
"Yes, well, there are so many of them, I suppose Pissaro would be a big influence, and Caravaggio would be a big influence. Hockney would be a big influence too and Van Gogh to name but a few. Possibly, strangely, Jackson Pollock. I love his stuff and I know it’s very different to what I do but, I have quite a wide opinion of art."
What is your process of creating a piece of art?
"A lot of stomping around and getting frustrated! A lot of people think art is a therapeutic thing and it can be, but there’s a lot of heartache and there’s a lot of stress, the right sort of stress but it doesn’t just happen, paintings don’t just turn up. There’s always a day like I said, where it just doesn’t work and you have to put that pencil down. And it is hard work, it’s not easy. None of it is easy."