Our exclusive Q&A with artist Ros Ford…
“…. I like the often bypassed functional buildings and places. I am interested in their juxtaposition with the natural world. As they become more neglected their structure is often revealed – the inside becomes the outside…..”
Ros Ford RWA, RE is a painter and printmaker whose work focuses on functional buildings and structures, and is inspired by the overlooked and unordered corners of life. She works at BV Studios, Bristol and has won national prizes and awards for her work. Ros’ prints and paintings are exhibited, collected and held in public and private collections in the UK and internationally.
In June 2019 Ros takes over from Stephen Jacobson as Vice President of the RWA. Here’s our Q&A…
When did you realise you were an artist?
I’m not sure I even realise it now, all I know is that I have always loved drawing, painting, taking photographs and making things. Since when I was a child on the beach right up to now.
Why do you make art?
My life would be empty without it.
What is your usual process for making an artwork?
I usually draw outdoors around a subject or place that I want to spend time on. I also take photographs and then take this visual research into the studio to develop. The drawing continues and usually ends up as a print, often an etching.
What attracts you to industrial landscapes and overlooked or neglected buildings, as a subject for your art? And which are your favourite places in Bristol particularly?
I like the often bypassed functional buildings and places. I am interested in their juxtaposition with the natural world. As they become more neglected their structure is often revealed – the inside becomes the outside. I don’t usually have a nostalgic attachment to them, although I do admire the often beautiful engineering.
I like St Philips Marsh, the light industrial buildings juxtaposed with the River Avon and its riverbanks and occasional structural gems. The area is evolving rapidly which is also interesting.
How has your work changed or evolved through your career? Was there a particular turning point?
There have been many. I taught art in secondary school to make a living after I received my degree (diploma as it was then) from Bristol Polytechnic, but always continued drawing painting and printmaking. I then worked overseas in Crete and Egypt where I juggled working as an artist in development projects and my own work. Then, my work was large colourful paintings and smaller drawings of people in the street.
On return to the UK I had studios in various parts of Bristol and painted large historical icons of Egypt amongst other things. I was an artist in residence at an organic walled garden for a year where, again I made large colourful paintings, documenting its development.
During and after an MA at UWE in print I gravitated towards etching which had been an earlier love and this is what I now continue to develop.
What has the RWA meant to you?
A few years ago I retired myself from teaching in secondary schools, the Drawing School and Spike Print Studio. I wanted to focus on my own work. Becoming an Academician has given me confidence in my own work, to be selected by a group of peers is a great honour.
Also, belonging to a group of such varied and amazing artists is supportive and stimulating.
What are you working on now?
As an RE (Royal Society of Painter Printmakers) I received a Fellowship from the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice last year. I am working on thoise images in print and drawing.
A fairy godmother waves her magic wand and says you can own any artwork in the world. What do you choose?
An almost impossible question. I have had a postcard of this for about 20 years and last month saw the work again, currently on display at Tate St Ives. It resonates for me on many levels. It is Between the Two my Heart is Balanced 1991 by Lubaina Himid.
Photo top by Leonie Bradley.