Chats with Selected Artist Rhona Taylor
May 20, 2016
Question 1: How did you get to where you are now?
I studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art — I went there as a mature student but had always painted and made other work before that. My work’s changed a lot since I left ECA in 2013, and I now do more three-dimensional stuff and bigger installations whenever I get the chance. I recently moved into a new studio in Leith, and I also do some work at Edinburgh printmakers, and have recently started working in wood, mainly over in Glasgow. I’m always on the lookout for unusual opportunities that interest me, and I spend more time than I’d like applying for exhibitions, funding and residencies.
Question 2: What is your thought process and/or the material process behind your work?
All the work I make is about places in one way or another, so things usually start with spending time somewhere. I’m especially interested in how people relate to places and how they shape identity, so I’ll spend time speaking to people and finding out about the history of a place. I take a lot of photos and do a lot of drawing, and have recently started using film. I usually have a few things on the go at once, for example a large-scale drawing or painting and some smaller pieces, and I work on them together.
Something I’m doing at the moment that is having a really big effect on my studio work is learning to build traditional wooden boats with GalGael, a charity in Glasgow. As well as the subject matter, all the processes involved are also finding their way into my work. Even just working with different materials and tools in such a precise way has changed things a lot for me. I’m quite excited about how that’s going to develop.
Question 3: Have you ever gotten halfway through with a project or idea and changed direction and why?
Always! Whenever I start a piece of work, I’ll have a rough idea of how things might look or turn out, but that changes constantly, whether I’m doing a really small painting or something much bigger or three-dimensional. It’s partly about cause and effect — you can never predict exactly how something is going to look when you do it, and for me half the joy is not knowing what’s going to happen. I think especially if you’re doing something site-specific, things are bound to evolve and change as you go along, just by the very nature of it. And even more so with something like Hidden Door — there are so many interesting things going on and there’s such a buzz during the installation time that all that stuff is bound to feed into what you’re doing.
Question 4: What is your idea for Hidden Door 2016?
I’ll be developing the piece I did for last year’s festival, which was a painting installation (the red and yellow room up in the blue corridor, next to the cage room). This year I’ll be doing it on a bigger scale in one of the public areas, probably one of the bars. It’s great to be making work somewhere public that everyone will see it, but there are going to be some big challenges for making it — especially working around everyone else who are trying to do their stuff too.