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More on Fragmented Memories

December 1, 2011

Through the whole of December we invite you to visit our 4th E-Exhibition, where you will find amazing paintings and drawings by Catherine Verrill – you don’t need to go outside and get cold, simply click on this link and enjoy!

If you want to find out more about the artist, the ideas and the process of creating here are a few questions we had for Catherine.

Catherine Verrill

What was your path leading into the world of Arts like? When and how did it begin?

I’ve always been encouraged by my family to be creative, however I decided not to take art as a subject at school, and chose science subjects instead.  At 17 I decided to take subjects that I enjoyed and took A level art at a night school and studied psychology and maths A level during the day at the local college in Rugby. From there I did a full-time Art Foundation course where I was introduced to a wide range of art disciplines.  By the time I went to University I had already decided to specialize in painting.

You have a degree in Fine Arts which encompass all kinds of visual arts: painting, sculpture, collage, installation, architecture etc. Which ones would you call your favourites?

At university you could follow any direction that you wanted, but as I had already chosen to specialize in painting I did not study any other field in depth at university level.  My degree is in Fine Art not of Fine Art, or rather my degree is in Art although fine art is what I did.

Catherine Verrill "Illuminate" Oil on Canvas

In your paintings you focus on, I would say, quite an unusual subject in your own words “individual perceptions and, the distortion that results as these perceptions decay in the memory”. Tell us more about this – why are the concepts of “projection, memory, decay, distortion and fragmentation” so important to you?

It was made very clear to me very early on in my career that the problem with painting was not how to paint, but what to paint. This is where my studies in psychology come into play as it is a fruitful place for finding concepts. The painting is just an end product of a lot of thinking and a process.  Explained more clearly, I have studied life drawing for many years, that it came to the point that I could internalized what I saw and began to draw the human figure from memory.  Hence distortions occur as the memory of the human form decays.  What is projected is a more individual perception of the human form as it becomes mixed with internal aspect of the mind.

The paintings take on a fragmented look due to the technique used in triggering a projection.  Lines and curves are drawn first, and into these I project an image of the human form.   Also each figure is a combination of fragments put together imaginatively from previously internalized images of the human form.

Fragmented Memories became a suitable title for these works partly because of the appearance of the final image, but more to do with the nature of the process that underlies them.  If the work is seen in chronological order a transition and development of the ideas can be observed, as well as slight differences in approach employed.

Catherine Verrill "Girl Dance" Graphite Pencil on Paper

You have also said that you “draw inspiration from the relationship between man and nature”, but you seem to be very selective and depict only women. Let me ask a cheeky question: is it because you don’t find the body of a man pretty?

I don’t think that pretty is a word I would use for a man, nor is a word I would use for my artwork of women.  I tend to use the word bold; I guess I’m more interested in form than prettiness. It is true that a woman’s body is curvier than a man’s and perhaps that is why it can be seen as pretty.  But there are a lot of women in the world that don’t particularly perceive their bodies as pretty as they don’t fall into the stereotypes of what we as society define as a pretty body. My work depicts often large and heavily distorted forms of the female image, but a pleasing and beautiful form does come across.  Just goes to show how wrong stereotypes can be.

Perhaps the main reason for why the male form does not feature heavily in my work (although I assure you it does exist) is because the majority of life drawing classes that I have attended have always had a female model.  There are not that many male models about.  Perhaps if it were the other way around all my work would be of men.

The history of art in western culture has definitely been a powerful influence upon me in why I have painted the female as nude, but I hope that I have broken away from how she is depicted.  She is still ogled at I admit, but she is a very different woman – rebellious in what is considered to be the norm, and stands as a challenge to our perceptions of the world.

When I first saw your paintings they straight away reminded me of Tamara de Lempicka’s artwork and to tell the truth they are very art deco: they are very decorative, they contain distinct geometric shapes and intense, bright colours. What draws you to this style?

I like simplified versions of objects or people in artwork, but it may strike as a little odd but it was lessons I was having in patchwork and quilting that gave rise to the use of geometric shapes. But I do know what you mean by looking art deco, and I did turn to Tamara de Lempicka for some inspiration.  I committed certain attributes of Tamara de Lempicka’s paintings to memory at one stage so I’m not surprised that her influence has come across in my paintings.

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Thank you very much, Catherine! We wish you lots of inspiration and hope to see at least some “male form” in your coming exhibitions. 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 2, 2011 1:07 pm

    Hi Kristina, thank you for visiting. I do indeed feel thankful each day for the beautiful area we live in.

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