What led you to become an artist?


At a very young age I became aware of colors and beauty, I became a spectator of the world



Who have been some of your biggest influences and why?


Several artists from art history. When I started I liked the rawness of the use of material in the portraits of the war hostages of Dubuffet. Now I like the playfulness of Richard Tuttle. There are always different aspects in the work of an artist which appeals to you .



What are you working on right now?


I am in a residency on the Shetland islands called the Booth and I am creating prints on paper that I have made myself for this working period here. I find objects while making long walks. Pieces of plastic and special stones. I put paint on it and print them by pushing on it with my hands.



Tell me about your working process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.


Often my working process starts with material which I find. It can be wood or stones or anything else. I see something very special in it, and by the use of color this is emphasized. When I am working in my studio or on a special exhibition, I try to create an installation of all the art works together on the wall. The whites in between the works becomes very important.



Could you describe the environment in which most of your work takes place and does

this in any way effect your practice?  


My studio is an old school room with very high walls and it is very light. This effects the way the artworks are perceived very much. When I am in a residency, then the country and the location where I am is important to me and I can use the creativity in another way. Free of daily obligations I make different choices then at home.



Do you experiment with different materials/processes a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?


I experiment all the time with wood, paint, paper. burning, cutting, sewing etc

Within the wider ‘art’ field do you feel the type of work you make is important today and why? 

I hope it is. It is so very hard to judge by myself. What I create is often in between painting and sculpting and other disciplines. I find it important to be free and not to be limited by boundaries



If you could jump 10 years into the future where would you like to see yourself and your practice?


To be still inspired after working many years



How do you feel online art networks/ communities like the South East Cultural Centre could better support you and your work?


It’s a good website and is active on social media which is important and maybe an exhibition?



Is there anything else you would like to add?


I find it important that there are artists led community's like this. And that artists are active as a curator of exhibitions. I have curated two exhibitions already and I know of other artist who do the same. It is a good influence on the art world. Compassion for art is important for the world.


This is a link to one of the exhibitions



Wilma Vissers



What led you to become an artist?

When I was about 12yrs of age, I saw the ‘Catherine Wheel’ on television by Twyla Tharp. I was mesmerised. There was something in the way they moved that I had never seen before, the patterning, and the no verbal communication. It was enthralling. Right there and then I thought I want to do this!

Who have been some of your biggest influences and why?

I would definitely say that the biggest early influence would have been Barefoot Dance Company in Wexford in the late eighties at Wexford Arts Centre, through its very dynamic artistic director Cathy O Kennedy. There was a team of artists that worked with us in the Youth Dance Company, who were very inspiring

Later, I was captivated by the work of Pina Bausch (and Tanz Theatre) and Trisha Brown Dance Company also in US. I remember reading about Deborah Hay in college and her processes and her cellular based movement, improvisational practices and radical thinking. I remember thinking that that was the way I would like to work as an artist.


What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on a new production Tin Soldier Paper Dance with musician & singer, Nick Day and 13 choral singers. The work is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson story The Brave Tin Soldier. It’s a fairytale for adults really. Very dark and full of angst and unrequited love. It’s due to premiere at Wexford Arts Centre 21st/22nd October.

Tell me about your working process, where things begin, how they evolve etc. 

I always work from improvisation in a studio by myself; I have been practicing Improvisation since I was involved in Youth Dance in my teenage years. I was instantly hooked. Up to that my only experience of dance was the learning of sequences that were set. Where you had to learn the technique and proper execution of the timing /framing/choreography. I found it frustrating trying to master other people’s set material and Improvisation allowed me to go much deeper into myself and extract rich organic material for choreography. I later learnt to really refine dance through improvisation at college. In rehearsals, I usually set some material from improvisation in my choreographies and leave windows open throughout. It’s something that works for me as I have always wanted to innovate, generate and choreograph my own movement. Dance was also so personal for me.

Improvisation is a fantastic tool, it is a way of tapping into my body immediately and drawing from the well ‘in the moment’, so to speak. It has been such a friend to me. In my work, I have been experimenting with ‘authentic movement’ for theatre also which is a practice that encourages the mover to close our eyes, move spontaneously for small periods of time and then recall your movement in great detail anatomically from your ‘Inner Witness’ perspective. It can be used in holistically, socially & theatricality, but I have strictly chosen to work with it for theatrical purposes. It is incredible what comes out of the sub-conscious. I then try to refine, edit and set material from this process.

Could you describe the environment in which most of your work takes place and does this in any way effect your practice?

The environment/s is quite diverse; When I first got my dance degree, I idealistically used to see dance practice only happening in a sprung- dance floor environment, college ideals eh??? But as I’ve got older, I notice that creativity and the production of dance is just as likely to happen in a different terrain, like outdoors, just as much as be generated from a studio.  I’m not sure if I was forced to come to this conclusion by always having limited access to open or free studio space or I’ve just learnt to adapt and make the best of what is there in regional context?

I still think though it’s crucial to have space and quiet time for dancers in a studio space to refine your ideas, properly. It’s important that artists provide a counterbalance to frenetic and sometimes unbalanced life outside. I just don’t think you can reflect properly whilst being part of the franticness of life.  

Do you experiment with different materials/processes a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I’m a completely open experimental artist, I’m abet of a pariah when it comes to feeding off energy and ideas and I adore research phases on projects. I enjoy an opportunity to cross over, invent and collaborate with other dance artists, musicians, visual artists from time to time. I do think though I am an artist that ultimately sits within ‘dance theatre genre’ and theatre is my home.

The only parameter I like to set is that what I’m doing should be always purposeful in a theatrical way, even though sometimes its abstract and I can’t readily justify its purposefulness in words. I enjoy dance projects that I’m involved with in dance theatre & dance in health projects to have longevity and present a wider impact on the dance sector.

Within the wider ‘art’ field do you feel the type of work you make is important today and why?

Yes, people have lost their connection to their bodies. Our minds seen to dominate almost every aspect of our lives, at a cost to the anatomy and health. Dance and movement studies (through performance or workshop) really brings the onus back on the body, working in cooperation with our bodies and breath in a restorative, informative way.  Dance reminds us that we have a spirit also.  In the past 10 yrs., I would say we have a very distorted body image and we need to challenge how we accept our own skin and this ‘vessel’ that we live in.

If you could jump 10 years into the future where would you like to see yourself and your practice?

I would just love to continue to generate dance projects for theatre & Dance in Health contexts, perhaps research and document work in Ireland (which is poor on the ground), but I would like to do this fulltime.


How do you feel online art networks/ communities like the South East Cultural Centre could better support you and your work?

For me a ‘cultural centre’ is most welcome, as I feel isolated working in the region. Even a virtual community is welcome, but has limitations. I do miss the interactive quality of ‘physical bodies’ in a meeting space and the joy that can come from that knowing you are part of a larger community and feeding off this energy?  It would be nice to see the centre with maybe some funding where it could make events happen, even just every now and again. I would love to see the Venues, smaller companies and artists meeting together and a physical forum provided for that perhaps?

I also think there is a general problem with pay in the sector for Freelance Artists, which have crashed in recent times. I see this with dance & theatre facilitators/artists in particular and is shocking.   

Is there anything else you would like to add?


When Now Becomes Then: Three Decades

Basil Beattie

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

20th February – 5th June, 2016


Review by Susan Edwards


Basil Beattie was born, raised and his early education took place in North Yorkshire in the 1930’s. At 81 years of age he is still a currently practising artist and his recent exhibition at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) is an example of a “local lad done good and returns home”. A well-respected painter and print-maker among the UK art community, he taught at Goldsmith’s during the 80’s and 90’s and is best known for his twist on abstract Expressionism. In his formative years, a key moment was seeing an exhibition called “The New American Painting” at the Tate Gallery in 1959 and being strongly influenced by Mark Rothko. While Beattie’s work is not remotely visually reminiscent of Rothko’s paintings, they do echo the same human emotive and psychological qualities.


His body of work is non-representational, manifesting a theme including patterns within a built structure. Certain specific shapes distinguish his paintings. The most often used shape is a ziggurat that recalls an image of a staircase. Along with this zig zag form, doors, tunnels, and symbols indicating entering and exiting are seen during the whole of his three decades of work. Beattie felt it was important to have breathing space or a “lung” within the work. 

(1998, exh.cat.p.10).


It is art that is not everyone’s cup of tea.


Many people continue to mistake an absence of technical skill as a lack of artistic ability and sophistication. The art of concepts and ideas is much more difficult to convey and understand then art that directly represents an object. Abstraction is often thought of as immature scribbles and met with scorn and derision. Artists that choose to portray concepts, emotions and the conflicts of a global community can often produce work that is uncomfortable and thought of as “ugly”. With his crude, deliciously loose and imposing mark making often referred to as “gestural” and a characteristically dark, monochromatic colour scheme, Beattie’s paintings can often fall into an ugly category.


MIMA selected art works ranging from the mid 1980’s to 2015 that hung in 4 rooms. The most memorable part of the exhibition is in the first room, consisting of ceiling to floor India ink drawings on paper. Ten across, twenty four high of A4 sized drawings thumb-tacked on the wall directly opposite the entrance to the exhibition was a visually overwhelming sight; leaving the viewer to feel dizzy with neck crooked up to the ceiling, staring at the individual images. Selected from 376 pieces of work from 1990, “Drawings on an Interior” gives an astonishing insight into the thought process of an artist at work, his intimate sketches and meanderings as if his personal notebook has been displayed for public scrutiny. Beattie has said of these drawings, “this work is a resource that I have mined ever since. Acting as a blueprint or guide, the motifs, designs, and symbols on these images were to be seen throughout the remaining three rooms of art.


Room three contains a work from 2001, titled “Never Before” with a dull beige and brown colour palette to create forms that appear as stacked books, planks or blocks.  Despite the monochrome dreary hues, on closer inspection there are tones of black and burnt sienna layered over pale creamy yellow, layered over beige, producing scrumptious blobs of colour squooshed about, drips and smudges that tug at a naïve emotion to touch and further push these pigments about on the canvas. The palpable brushstrokes replicate a style seen in children’s paintings. This deliberate paint application and composition cause unpredictable responses which would not occur in detailed life like imagery. The marks are large and bold, transferring energy, but expressive lines suggest ideas rather than representing his personal feelings. The geometrically stacked shapes offer a vaguely recognizable notion and despite the appearance of spontaneous design, his layered paint and composition technique has been carefully thought out and planned.


 “Far from Somewhere”, 2015, is the most challenging of his works to view. Roughly scrubbed in black pigment on a wall sized canvas with seemingly random marked in shapes. He has deviated from the monochrome tones to give blue, pink, red and yellow colour against the black background. It looks ugly, it feels chaotic as if one has woken from a dream with snippets of images in flashback but the parts to connect the meaning have been left out. His mature work (if one calls an 81 year old man mature) shows a lack of inhibition, increased fast, free gestures as if he quickly needed to capture all his previously used symbols in one place without logic or semblance of pattern. Yet amid this chaotic process glimmers a hint of narrative.  The title offers a clue of its thematic origin. Beattie states, “I feel I can put almost anything in. I put things that have references to psychological and emotional concerns that are important to me, but I try to paint them in a way that is not illustrative”. 


MIMA has curated an exhibition giving varied paintings of Beattie’s growth as an artist. His life work comes to us as free, expressive with forthright strong gestures to inflect turmoil, movement, ambiguities, insights, and humour. Whether one chooses to embrace this art, it cannot be overlooked that he discards established rules of pictorial space and colour and introduces new vocabularies and boundaries of art providing the viewer the opportunity to reinvent their own narratives in life.



Basil Beattie, (exh. cat. essay, J. McEwen, London, Tate Gallery, 1998).


Basil Beattie, R.A. is represented by the Hales Gallery, London, New York

Susan May 25 '16 · Rate: 5 · Tags: susan, review, painting , painting, modern, mima, middlesbrough, beattie, basil, art
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