Our exclusive Q&A with painter and RWA Academician Sandra Porter…
“…. I tend to see my work all over the place. In architecture, pavements, detail in cast iron grilles and lately corrugated iron buildings. All these things seem to touch my aesthetic somehow…..”
Sandra Porter RWA is a contemporary abstract artist, interested in the symbiotic relationship between painting, drawing and printmaking. She studied Fine Art at Stourbridge College of Art and then achieved an MA in Fine Art Painting at Chelsea School of Art in 1981 before going on to study Printmaking with Dorothea Wight at Morley College in the 1990s.
After a 30-year teaching career Sandra now works as a full time artist and runs printmaking workshops in her Somerset studio. An Academician since 2017, her current work explores a fascination with grids, stripes and recurrent schemes.
When did you realise you were an artist?
At infant school I drew all the time, particularly horses with no necks! Later on in primary school I made a very good drawing of a horse and rider but the teacher didn’t believe I’d done it. This set me back for some time. I left school to work in a bank and after 6 months I realised I had to go to Art School. I haven’t looked back.
Why do you make art?
It’s easier to say that if I don’t I am very twitchy and unsettled. When I do, I know I am at one with the world.
What is your usual process for making an artwork? How important is the process?
I work across the disciplines of Painting, Printmaking and Drawing. These operate symbiotically, informing one another and moving each discipline on.
Process is extremely important for me. As a young student I worked very intuitively and was not keen on slow processes like printmaking. However, once I got going with etching I realised that the process slowed me down, made me more reflective and helped drive my ideas. It’s almost like a novel or a piece of music having a beginning, a middle and an end.
I do start with a plan but it can easily go off piste.
“…if I don’t make art I am very twitchy and unsettled. When I do, I know I am at one with the world…”
Has your work changed or evolved through your career? Was there a particular turning point or success that changed your path?
My work has been abstract since my student days though I sometimes start from architecture in the landscape to get me going. There have been times when my work has appeared very minimal, other times very gestural and of late a combination of approaches.
There are certain recurrent motifs in your works, such as grids and geometric forms. How did you come to be interested in those themes?
I found that I was attracted to pattern and formal design. I tend to see my work all over the place. In architecture, pavements, detail in cast iron grilles and lately corrugated iron buildings. All these things seem to touch my aesthetic somehow.
You were made an Academician of the RWA in 2017. What did that mean to you – and what sort of role does the RWA play in your life as an artist?
The RWA is a great centre for contemporary art with its’ roots firmly in the history. This makes it very special and it is a huge honour to be elected by your peers. I enjoy being involved and am looking forward to teaching a course in February 2019.
What are you working on next?
I am continuing to develop large drawings which are becoming much more abstract and minimal again. Further removed from the source material yet still evoking the spirit of that place.
A fairy godmother waves her magic wand and says you can own any artwork in the world. What do you choose?
The Pink Nude by Henri Matisse. I first saw a reproduction of this painting when I was on my foundation course in Taunton. There is a big blue grid too. This is the work that made me want to be a painter. It is a beautiful work though when I saw the real thing I was quite shocked to see how small it is. Still, it will fit in my house!
You can see more examples of Sandra’s work on her website.
Picture top: Sandra Porter RWA – Aequitas IV – 170 x 280cm