Happy Chinese New Year Bizzie Bees. Be inspired by Gail's art journey this new year and start/keep drawing!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm 45 and have lived in Hong Kong now for over twenty years. I'm married with two children and a dog. I grew up in Devon, UK and have been lucky enough to live in various places around the world.
How did you start your creative journey?
I started going to art college regularly when I was about 14. I left school at 16 when I got accepted into art college full time for a two year foundation course. I was incredibly lucky to always have great art teachers—at school, college, then later in university for my sculpture degree, who influenced and inspired me greatly. I'm still very much in contact with some of them. Looking back, even to my primary school where my teacher was actually an artist, I've always been surrounded by art. I can't remember ever making a decision to go into Art. I think that it was always a known for me.
Why do you make art?
I think Art is one of those things you don’t really choose to do but you just have to do it. Art is the only way that I can make sense of my ideas. I've always felt that I have to create. I'm certainly a better person when I am creating.
What is your workspace like?
My studio is in North Point. I'm lucky to have my own space with great facilities and two large outdoor terraces. Other than create there, I also teach there too. This means that my studio has to be organised and my work fairly contained. There's always my sculpture around or drawings hanging up that I'm referencing from. It's a place that I really love going to.
What is your favourite art form and why?
As an artist, sculpture has always been my primary focus. Despite drawing being an integral part of my creative process and thinking, sculpture has continually (consciously and subconsciously) pulled me back and demanded me to work three-dimensionally.
What inspires you and how do you keep your creative spark?
Drawing. You have to keep drawing as it's the foundation of all areas of your work. If your drawing is strong, so is your sculpture, painting or print. As your drawing improves, so does your confidence to make creative decisions.
Who did you admire when you were younger that inspired you to be an artist yourself?
I've always been lucky to have great art educators as I've grown up. My first art teacher was Mr. Gillis at primary school. He was a teacher but later left to paint full time. He gave me a great foundation as every project we did turned into an art piece.
What role does the artist have in society?
Artists in all forms have the ability to touch people in ways that media cannot. The presence of art can engage many people and force them to think, behave and act in different ways. Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the famous ceramic poppy installation at London Tower three years ago was a great example of this. Viewers connected with it in a unique and personal way. It questioned our sense of humanity and understanding of history. Art makes us curious, question, challenge and consider the environment we live in, whilst giving it an aesthetic edge.
What are you working on right now?
In May, I'll be exhibiting at the Affordable Art Fair, under our group The Fellowship Studio. I'm busy trying to create a body of sculpture for that. It sounds like a long way off, but when you have to take out 4-5 weeks for the casting process, it's not that much.
What's your favourite place to see art?
There's so much to see in London. Obviously there are the big galleries like the Tate, The National Gallery, Victoria & Albert (most of which are free), but there are also a huge number of galleries, spaces, and small unknown pop-ups in areas such as Shoreditch. You can just be walking down the road and find some small exhibition that's amazing. There's so much depth there it's incredible.
What's the last show that you saw?
Giacometti and Queer British Art 1861–1967 in London in September.
What is your favourite museum?
What's your favourite art work and why?
Zuccone by Donatello, which is housed in Florence. I'm not religious at all but this is a stunning piece and so contemporary. It's hard to believe that it was created between 1423-1425.
What are you reading right now?
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, a Swedish writer.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
As an artist, I'm always looking around. I find things constantly inspire me like the diversity of cultures and the demographics. People watching is an amazing way to constantly become and get inspired.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
Apart from being a teenager, all my jobs have been art related. For many years, I was an art teacher for high school students. I still occasionally work with students and run programs for schools as I enjoy the perspectives and thoughts from younger people.
I feel that with the emergence of AI, many jobs are becoming/going to be obsolete. It's important to keep your creative skills, allowing people to approach problems or briefs from different perspectives. Creativity enables us to explore our ideas by taking risks and moving out of comfort zones. Start-ups are disruptive because many of them look at user/client interactions or interfaces with traditional industries from new angles (hotels—Airbnb, taxis—Uber, music—Spotify, cars—Tesla etc.). This is a creative process and many of these companies are hiring creative artist types rather than the stereotypical corporate person. The visual arts and other areas such as the performing arts, help us do this. Creativity is an integral component to growth and development. It's completely transferable to all areas of life whether it be in personal, social or corporate worlds. It's so important for parents to encourage their children to study creative subjects, giving them vital tools for the future.
Name something you love, and tell us why.
Other than my family and friends—sports. I've always been sports mad. I love the feeling of competing, playing against other teams and the camaraderie of your own team. I also enjoy skiing for the fresh air, exercise and scenic views.
What advice do you have?
Even when you can't create, keep creating, making, drawing, building. It'll come!
What is your dream project if there were no restrictions on time or money? What would you create?
This is a hard one. I guess it would be a large public space sculpture with some form of interaction. Perhaps one day in the future....
Anything else about yourself that you'd like to share?
I will be exhibiting alongside Nic Gaunt (photography) and Sue Perks (encaustic mixed-media) at this years Affordable Art Fair in Hong Kong, come and say hello.
See more of Gail's work at gaildeayton.com