Our Q&A with RWA Artist Network member and abstract painter Maryanne Hawes…
“….Self exploration is central to my work. Painting is a way of processing my often introverted and sensitive reaction to the world. …”
A painter of bold abstract works, Maryanne Hawes is a member of the RWA Artist Network. Based in Chepstow, she has exhibited widely, including galleries in St Ives, Prague and Bristol’s Spike Island.
She is also a Friend of the RWA and had work included in the successful 2019 Friends’ Biennial Exhibition.
Here’s our Q&A…
When did you realise you were an artist?
I think I’ve known I was an artist at some deep level from an early age. For various reasons I did not pursue my creative urges until my forties, when I studied horticulture and garden design. Then I became a photographer. Even that wasn’t enough to fulfil my creativity and after a few years as a pro photographer I gave it up and started to paint, and haven’t stopped since.
Why do you make art?
I make art because it helps me make sense of things – of my thoughts, the world, other people’s noise. It feels like an innate need, a gift that needs to be shared. I’ve lived for many decades denying my creative spirit, it seems only right that now I should make up for lost time and embrace it fully!
Tell us something about your usual process for making an artwork?
The process is important in that it allows the meaning of a piece to emerge. The story behind a painting starts with a glimpse of an idea, something half dreamt or imagined, or the coinciding of two random thoughts, but it’s through the process that the meaning evolves. First layers are laid down intuitively and expressively, being built up and worked into until forms begin to emerge and the chaos is subdued. Sometimes the meaning of a painting only becomes clear after it is finished; at other times it’s clear from the outset.
What do you consider central to your work?
Self exploration is central to my work. I’ve long been interested in self development and positive psychology and observing how the self help industry plays into our need to understand ourselves. Painting is a way of processing my often introverted and sensitive reaction to the world. Often, though not always, there will be metaphors of geography and landscape apparent in my work as a means of describing the inner world.
“…My work is evolving as I become more confident about what I want to express with it, and less concerned with what others will think. It is becoming more authentic and influenced less by what I see my peers doing…”
How has your work changed or evolved through your career? Was there a particular turning point?
I’m always having turning points! I’m still at an early stage in my career and have never felt that I’ve settled into a way of being or doing. I regard this as a good thing. I try to cultivate a beginners mind, to be open to play and possibility and create work with intent. Some of the really pivotal moments have involved teachers and mentors. I have seriously invested in my own professional as well as personal development and have worked with various coaches, teachers and mentors for much of the last 5 years. My work is evolving as I become more confident about what I want to express with it, and less concerned with what others will think. It is becoming more authentic and influenced less by what I see my peers doing.
When did you become an RWA Artist Network member?
I became a member in December 2018. A couple of kind members suggested I should apply for membership of the network, and I felt this would be really beneficial to help me grow as an artist. Having a local network of accomplished and experienced artists to connect with has meant a great deal to me and I hope to be able to give something back in some way too. I wrote a blog post after the RWA Open describing my experience of having exhibited there.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently finishing off some work for FAR (Forest of Dean and Wye Valley) Open Studios which runs 6-14 July. After that I have no commitments to art fairs or galleries until Christmas and I want to use that time to create some work without the pressure of an immediate commercial goal. I’ve been hustling quite hard for a couple of years, art fairs etc and feel it has stifled my creative development as I’ve had to concentrate as much on the business as the art. Now I want to absorb myself in exploring some new ideas and see what comes up.
Can you tell us something about your postcard project?
The Art of Kindness Postcard Project invites artists across the globe will create postcard-sized pieces of art, leave them in places where they will be found by an unsuspecting stranger, who will then post the art on to someone known to them who they feel would benefit from a little art and kindness in their life.
The Art of Kindness project came about because for some time I’d been growing increasingly despondent about the state of the world; the lack of compassion in politics and society, the anger and violence, the complacency and lack of hope amongst many. I’ve felt powerless to effect any change or to know what to say to those who are suffering under the real weight of our global and local problems. I’ve even had moments when I felt that making art was an indulgence and a privileged escape from the realities of life for many.
I decided that I needed to do something, even if it was only a small gesture. My Instagram friends, responding to a post I made about my feelings of hopelessness, reminded me that I have in my gift an opportunity to reach people and that as an artist I am part of the solution. The project is for any artist or creative who feels they would like to make a small contribution to cheering up the world by sharing our art far and wide. And, of course, it’s for everybody who receives the art and thus gets to have a bit of art for themselves, as well as the knowledge that someone is thinking of them.
[Full details of how the project works can be found here.]
Maryanne has an Open Studio event in Chepstow 6th – 14th July – venue 5.
Interview by Laurel Smart