We have been admiring Gemma’s beautiful work. She paints photorealistic portraits with a twist, adding her own take on the beauty in nature. We jumped at the chance to interview her and find out how she came about being an artist…
Tell us about yourself, how did you get into painting?
I have always been into drawing and painting ever since I can remember. Like most children I drew and coloured on everything and it was continuously one of my strongest subjects at school. I grew up in a small Cotswold town in Gloucestershire called Tetbury, with its picturesque buildings and beautiful countryside – I guess that’s why I have a fascination with British wildlife, especially Ornithology. As a child I always wanted to be a cartoonist, spending hours copying Disney characters from VHS boxes and magazines but I didn’t really take my passion for art too seriously until 2001. When I was 18 I was unfortunate to be involved in a serious RTA. I was a passenger in a friend’s car that lost control and crashed on a dark country road. My injuries were extensive; I broke nearly every bone in my body including some serious spinal damage. I spent nearly 2 months in hospital unable to move, feeling lucky to be alive with an anxious wait to see if my body would heal. My friends and family were amazing and visited me every day. On one of my dad’s regular visits he brought me a sketch pad and some pencils to help me pass the time. I didn’t really sketch anything worthwhile over those weeks but it just helped to doodle and distract myself from my limitations. It was a long road to recovery but that small gesture from my father helped me focus on the art that I had always loved and 2 years later I enrolled back at college to study art and design.
You graduated in Fashion Illustration, is fashion a big inspiration behind your work?
Yeah, definitely. Like most women I love following fashion and trends, colour palettes and patterns. I love Alexander McQueen, Westwood, Mary Katrantzou and Meadham Kirchoff. They always push the boundaries of their art, whether it’s print or construction.
Art and design is such a broad melting pot of ideas anyway. Art, fashion, architecture, interior design, engineering etc., no matter what area of expertise, they all borrow from each other to create new and exciting ‘art’.
I graduated from U.W.E in Bristol with a First Class Honours degree and it taught me to work hard, the importance to keeping to deadlines and to always try and push forward with your new ideas and improve with every piece you create.
How would you describe the style and content of your works?
My style is contemporary. I always try to paint my subjects whether they are people or animals as a true representation, but I love to throw in colour, pattern, texture and symbols. Within a lot of my work I really like to explore the meaning of ‘Love, Life and Loss’ and I think this comes from the life experience I have that ‘life is really too short’. Everything can change in a split second so make the most of it.
I also have a real affinity for Frida Kahlo and her artwork. Parts of our personal stories are quite similar and the style and symbolism in her work really speaks to me.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Every show I have ever done, whether it’s a solo or a group show, I see as an achievement. I feel so lucky that I can do this as a job and I can make art for people to see and enjoy. I have been lucky enough to do some great collaboration with fashion labels such as ASOS and TOPSHOP. But I was pretty honoured at the end of last year to have one of my paintings exhibited and auctioned for charity at the Houses of Parliament.
What plans do you have over the next year?
Bigger, better work. I always want my work to progress with every piece I produce. Hopefully some outside murals this year, more shows and new print releases.
Where can we find you online?