Interview by Sniez Torbarina, PSAD Friends Committee, Website Main Editor.

It’s always a joy to celebrate PSAD student and tutor achievements! We caught up with artist Marcy Richardson, one of this years’ PSAD Diploma Graduates for the first in our new series of student and tutor interviews. Marcy’s first solo art show is currently at Putney Library from 15th August – 1st October. Come and visit!

Marcy has also exhibited in group exhibitions including the coveted Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2021. She is on the PSAD Friends Committee team and manages our social media channels.

All photographs relating to her art practice and her favourite artists are by Marcy.

IN CONVERSATION WITH … artist Marcy Richardson

Marcy at PSAD, photo by Tim Bush

Marcy thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. What is your ideal place in the world to create?

My inspiration comes from everywhere, and often when I least expect it, so I take lots of photos and make notes on my phone or draw quick sketches if I have my sketchbook with me. Many of my sketches are done at home, then I bring them in to my studio to work with and paint. My studio is lovely with huge windows that overlook The Wandle River, and is close to home, so I can work between the two spaces easily which suits my process.

I also really enjoy the busy, energetic, purposeful environment of the print room. It’s a complete contrast to my painting studio and home. Variety in my environment stimulates me. A balance between high energy buzz and solitude time works well for me.

When did you decide (or felt you wanted) to be an artist?

Art was my favourite class at school, and I won a competition for one of my first paintings when I was 12 or 13 which I was most proud of achieving at school. My art teacher was really supportive and wanted to help me apply to a high school that specialised in art, but my parents preferred I get a traditional education, so it was not the path I took then, although I think that’s when I knew I wanted to make art. I suppose I just didn’t really know I could be an artist because I didn’t have a concept of what that was until I was older. I made the decision to be a full-time artist about three years ago and I’ve never looked back.

When did you join PSAD and what do you enjoy/take most out of your time here?

I started taking classes at PSAD in 2019 and have just graduated from the Putney School of Art and Design Diploma course. It’s a fantastic independent art school that has a great community feel to it. I have learned so much from the tutors who have supported and encouraged me to try new mediums and experiment and provided a safe environment to fail, which has enhanced and accelerated my development and practice. It’s a wonderful school. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about an art practice. If you’re not sure what to take the half term or short summer school classes are a great way to dip your toe in.

Marcy at PSAD_photo by Tim Bush

How would you describe your art practice? In three words what are the three best qualities of your artistic style.

I’m a painter and printmaker. The best qualities of my artistic style are colour, design and my naïve approach. I am aware of the naïve quality in my work; however, it is created through an adult perspective, so it is not really naïve. For me this is the most honest way to paint. I like when things are not perfect and a little crude like life itself.

Figure framed_by Marcy Richardson

Your most precious art achievement?

The Royal Academy of Art selecting my ‘Carnival Prizes’ painting for the Summer Exhibition 2021 was very encouraging, especially as I had only been painting full-time for a year then.

What inspires your work?

Lots of things that are seemingly unrelated. I am inspired by 80s and 90s design, colour and culture. I grew up skateboarding, so I’m also influenced by 90s skate culture, video games, films etc.

I did a carnival series of paintings a few years ago and one made it into the RA Summer exhibition, so I was really proud of that. I think I am influenced by things children are interested in but look at them through adult eyes.

I have found experimenting with other media such as printmaking (monoprints and screen prints) useful resources to develop my painting practice whilst enjoying the atmosphere of the print room.

Photography – I found a shattered wing mirror outside my studio during lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic and took it back to my studio. After lockdown finished, I brought it with me everywhere to take photos with through the reflection and built up a huge image library of places, people, and objects through the shattered reflection. I used these images as reference material for my paintings and screen prints.

I have also been inspired by Pre Columbian textiles recently. A friend gave me the book ‘Ancient Textiles from the Andes’ around the time the Peru exhibition was on at the British Museum, and I was really inspired, especially the funeral blankets they buried the dead in.

My Ukrainian family and Ukrainian culture have been an important influence recently as I’ve been really affected by the war. Although I was born in Canada, my birth name was Мирослава (Myroslava) and my first language was Ukrainian. Ukrainian culture was a big part of my childhood. I didn’t learn English until I went to school. My end of year exhibition for the PSAD Diploma was based on my Ukrainian heritage and the displacement refugees and their families born into the new place experience.

Мирослава (Myroslava) Marcy Richardson

Who are your heroes in the art world?

Francis Bacon – less about his subject matter and more the way he paints, his choice of colour and his desire for spontaneity in his heavily planned paintings.

Rothko – although my work is quite direct and figurative, I spend a lot of time looking at Rothko’s colours and am influenced by them in my own work.

Philip Guston – he broke away from the abstract expressionist movement which was popular at the time to do something completely different and focus on deep political issues in a very unique, almost cartoon style which made them more accessible but was really not the trend at the time. It was brave. I also love his colours too, especially that Guston pink.

German Expressionists for painting and printmaking – especially Kirchner – their influences of traditional art and tribal art with dramatic urban scenes and portrayal of people and use of colour.

Peter Doig – his colour and figurative imagery. He draws from his personal experiences yet stimulates a lot of nostalgic feelings that are dream-like with his images which are often places or scenes I have never been to yet they feel nostalgic.

Marlene Dumas – she tackles a lot of challenging current issues in her work in a beautiful way. Her use of colour and expressive style encouraged me to try watercolour and work more freely in my portraits which I believe have helped improve my work.

Francis Bacon at the RAA

Art exhibition(s) that you enjoyed especially and why? Current or past ..

I’ve been travelling a lot the last few months. The following exhibitions this year stand out for me.

The ‘Surreal Worlds’ exhibition at the Sammlung Scharf Gerstenberg in Berlin was so inspiring I spent the entire day there seeing a wide range of work by artists including some pieces I revisited a few times to sketch and photographs for inspiration, namely ‘Fashionable Madonna’ by Kurt Schweitzers, and a wonderful room full of drawings of ‘Fantasies About a Found Glove dedicated to the Lady Who Lost It’ by Max Klinger. Following this exhibition I felt so inspired I went back to the hotel and painted until I fell asleep that night.

Fashionable Madonna by K Schwitters at ‘surreal worlds exhibition’ Sammlung Scharf Gerstenberg

The CoBrA Museum of Modern Art which is a 30 mins drive outside of Amsterdam but well worth the trip to see a wide range of work by artists of the CoBrA Art Movement. There were three excellent and varied exhibitions when I visited, however Karel Appel’s sculptures and paintings and Anton Rooskens work were the highlights for me.

Anton Rooskens ‘Afrika Symbolen’ at CoBrA Museum Amsterdam

The Outsider Art Gallery in Amsterdam was also inspiring. The gallery represents a diverse group of artists from all over the Netherlands, who have mental and psychological health disorders. Their work ranges from paintings, sculptures, textiles and as well as other mediums, and is exhibited and available to buy in the gallery. The gallery provides a studio for the artists they represent to create their work in the building which you can also visit so you can see work in progress too. There is a wonderful energy there and the work was exciting. I would recommend a visit to anyone interested in art when in Amsterdam.

Outsider Gallery Amsterdam

Francis Bacon ‘Man and Beast ‘at the RA earlier this year was rescheduled twice due to the pandemic, but it was worth the wait for me. It was exciting to see so much of his work, both well-known and less familiar paintings displayed in the space. The dramatic lighting and deep wall colours created an ideal environment to view his work.

Milton Avery – the Royal Academy show which is on now inspired me. The sparing layers of amplify his use of colour which is brilliantly unexpected and unique. He was prolific, finishing a painting every day.

Milton Avery at the RA

What art exhibition(s) would you especially like to see in the future and where?

I’m looking forward to seeing the Turps Banana Leavers Exhibition this week. I’m blown away by the quality of paintings coming out of Turps right now and super excited to be joining them in September on the Off-site Programme.

The ‘Hidden UK, Hidden Ireland’ group exhibition curated by Sean Scully at the Flowers Kingsland Road Gallery includes work from an interesting group of painters. I’m planning to visit this summer and have a look.

I’m also hoping to make it to the Vivian Maier: Anthology Photography exhibition in Milton Keynes which is on at the MK Gallery until the 25th September.

Is there anything you’d like to see more of from the Friends of PSAD (and event, content on the website or social media, etc)?

I run the Friends of PSAD social media platforms so I would really like to know what other people would like more or less of myself! I would like to hear from more students, tutors and staff and see what they are up to and their work, so I look forward to reading the other Q & A’s in this series.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m starting at the Turps Banana Art School in September on the Off-site Programme and really looking forward to being focused on painting and spending more time in my studio, while learning and engaging with a group of brilliant painters.

What are you working on now?

My first solo exhibition at Putney Library on the 15th Aug – 1st Oct. See the exhibition statement and info Here.

What’s next for you?

I will be showing some work in a new gallery opening in Southfields in SW London, Amata Benedict, on the 24th September which I’m excited to be a part of. Then the week after I will start at Turps Art School, which will keep me busy.

Any memorable advice you got and who from? Art or otherwise

‘Your work is not finished until it is framed’. I know this sounds obvious, however I work on paper a lot and got used to Instagram being the environment I showed most of my work, so I didn’t think much about how I presented it until I had an exhibition to show it in. The advice was from the owner of the framer I have been apprenticing at for nearly a year. Now I make bespoke frames myself for my work.

Any advice you might like to give to any artist-to-be? Or to your own younger self 15.

Keep creating. Experiment with different types of art. Enjoy it. Don’t worry about the outcome. The magic happens in the process. Most importantly don’t stop making work.

Instagram: @marcyrichardson

Link to PSAD Diploma course info Here.

Details of Marcy’s first solo exhibition 15 August – 1 October 2022 Here.  Photo album below.