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Best of Art 2018: Interviews NT51-NT55

Here we look back at some of the pearls of advice, experiences and anecdotes provided by 2018’s featured artists so far:


Oldham Street Claire Riley Now Then

What was it about Greater Manchester’s landmarks and scenery that prompted you to focus on elements of the city and region? What motivates you to do this?

I was brought up in Manchester and have repeatedly departed and returned to the area, most recently in 2008. I now live quite centrally in Manchester. My northern roots are fundamental to my way of seeing. Also, though I work as an emergency duty social worker, which takes me into many unusual settings, I also used to work from an office, which was in a tower block in Gorton, so I would watch dusks and dawns over the Manchester skyline and watched it changing. You get to see a melancholy and often bleached view of the world at night and I started to focus on trying to capture that emotion in some of my work.

Read more in NT51


Chris Cyprus Now Then

At what point did you realise you could pursue your art as a career? What advice would you give to other artists currently at that stage?

In 2001, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and in 2003 it returned. This forced me to evaluate my life and career, and these difficult years gave me the motivation and focus I needed to succeed as an artist. Meanwhile, a work-related back injury meant I had to step away from my former livelihood as a self-employed builder and concentrate on art full-time.

The first piece of advice I took from an artist friend was to “only paint what you love and what’s familiar to you”. It’s what I still tell myself every day. It can be easy to create art to suit current trends, but my biggest fear was becoming a pastiche painter of old nostalgia, painting scenes from a bygone age with rose tainted spectacles. That’s why I decided to end the Northern Lights series, and move on to other things and evolve.

Read more in NT52


Kate Morgan Island Kite Now Then

Your work strikes me as very heartfelt and genuinely cheerful. Do you think these are feelings which are lacking from most contemporary art?

I’m not sure. I know that I had trouble accepting my style for a while, because I thought that my work should be more contemporary or fashionable. But then I think that I started to look around at other illustrators and artists that I loved, and they did have a positive feel to their work, which helped me to accept my own. Perhaps it’s knowing where to look and not feel embarrassed, or care so much about what you think you should like.

Read more in NT53


Lisa O'Hara Now Then

Often your work has an element of surrealism. Where do you find inspiration?

I’ve got a weird set of collections that inspire my work. My studio might seem like a bit of a nuts mix between 1950s American children’s toys, weird stamps and kitsch paintings. I worry sometimes when family come round, they might think I’ve gone a bit west, or Silence of the Lambs-style collector. But it’s organised chaos. I’m really into European match box covers at the moment though, and advertising pin badges from the 50s. There’s a big market for those in the collectors world. I’m probably pissing off a lot of ‘real’ collectors on eBay. I really enjoy the simplicity of block-print style and simple grid methods in tiny spaces.

Read more in NT54


Helena Perez Garcia Crossroads Now Then

What inspiration do you take from other art forms?

Regarding cinema, I admire the work by Jean Cocteau. I watched La Belle et La Bête at the BFI in London a few years ago and I was struck by the inventiveness, the beauty and the surrealism of the film. I’ve been a great admirer of his work since then. I also love the films of Jean-Luc Godard and how he cleverly uses composition and colour in his films, which is something I take greatly into consideration when creating my work.

As for literature, I’ve always been inspired by writers like Albert Camus, Virginia Woolf and Gabriel García Márquez. I created some illustrations based on philosophical ideas explained in The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus, which really made me think. The Waves by Woolf also inspired many sketches that are waiting to become illustrations.

Read more in NT55

Background art: Chris Cyprus

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