“MY SUBJECT IS OFTEN A MOMENT THAT IS ON THE VERGE OF CHANGE.”

Interview with Josephine Rowntree by Maddie Rose Hills for Floorr Magazine

Your work attempts to visualise time, in what ways do you use paint to achieve this?

Paint is the medium I use to freeze an image in time. I use impasto to anchor the image down. But it’s in the filtration and depiction of a mental image that I attempt to achieve this visualisation of time passing. The image is often figurative but it can also be abstract. My subject is often a moment that is on the verge of change. For example the act of turning a page, I’m interested to paint this moment, not the page before or after, the moment in between.  Recently I’ve been experimenting with plaster. With plaster I feel I have found a more direct way to solidify time, instead of working with a figurative image, I’m playing with the time I have before the plaster dries, as I manipulate and carve the wet plaster, I’m casting strong shadows, playing with the light and leaving the residue of how the plaster flows down the surface.

You work with a varied choice of materials & surfaces, involving oils, acrylic, plaster, board, aluminium and jute. Are the materials appropriate to each subject matter, or does it depend on how you are feeling at that time?

Yes, it’s all about the feeling! Spontaneous and subjective. But also it’s about trying to find the right medium for my style, it’s an ongoing journey. Each material has its own logic, and wants to be treated in a certain way. I never try to fight against what the material wants me to do. I like tactile substances because they sit between painting and sculpture. There’s something interesting about a very textured painting, it has a split personality; when you are at a distance it all comes together seamlessly but when you are close up it’s complicated.

How do you go about naming your work?

The titles of my work are important. I either have the title before I make the work or it will come during painting but it can also come much later on, weeks or months after.Attaching language to an image is difficult, so it will often be a word that echoes with the image, or it can be more direct because sometimes I will want to direct the viewer to a more direct meaning. 

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