Our latest Artist’s Profile for our readers is with Libby Page. Born in Bath in England Libby is currently resident in Narbonne, Languedoc Roussillon, France. Libby has a BA in Fine Art specializing in sculpture from what was the Wimbledon School of Art (now Wimbledon College of Art). Libby currently has professional affiliations with galleries Inspiré in Azille, Southern France ( https://www.facebook.com/InspireAzille/) and Vue Sur Cours, Narbonne, Southern France (http://www.vuesurcours.com). She has also exhibited in Lyon and the UK but works mainly with private clients.
What kind of art do you produce and how/ when did you start to get involved with this?
Moving to the south of France nearly ten years ago revived the passion for colour that I’ve had since I was a child. As I travelled within the region I found myself asking how I would mix up the colour of this cloudless blue sky, the riotous autumn vineyards, the bright spring poppies or the distant mountains. Finally it was the Canal du Midi with it’s beautiful tree-lined banks that pushed me to take these colour-filled musings and try attempt to pay homage to the splendour that was all around me. The Canal, as we know it today, is coming to the end of one glorious chapter as it’s majestic plane trees are being felled due to disease. So, not only was I stirred by the Mediterranean colours and the trees whose architectural forms resonated with the sculptor within me, but now I also had a deadline; these trees are coming down fast, each year the canal-scape changes. It is still very beautiful as new vistas are now opening up which were once hidden, but it is changed. So at first glance it seems apparent that I am a landscape painter, but there is also a hidden message within the work. Each colour has a meaning of my own invention. So as I paint, I am telling a story or remembering a moment. It is a way of writing in code, my secret diary. More here: http://libbypage.eu/coded-messages
Is there any kind of medium/ art techniques that you would like to explore in your future work?
Used to working with traditional oil paints, I am now making the switch to Cobra, water mixable oil paints. The transition has been easier than I thought because the most important thing for me is colour and they are so good. One of the best sap greens I have ever used! I’m a fan of translucent paint and they match up to their traditional counterparts 100%. The difference has been one of texture. Oil paints have a sumptuous fluidity which is less evident in the Cobra paints. However, a little medium, (or a little water!) soon fixes that.
If affiliated to Gallery/ art collective/ art club, how did you get involved with this?
The relationship with Inspiré in Azille started when a friend of a friend told me about them. I met the owner, Angela Saunders, four years ago and liked both her and her vision for the gallery from the start. She is a pioneer of fine art in a region that is mostly devoted to the more natural pleasures that the land has to offer, namely wine! I have only recently been approached by Vue Sur Cours, Narbonne. The owner, Claude Tassus-Bauléry has seen my work evolving over the last few years and wanted me to be a part of her portfolio when she opened her new space in the centre of Narbonne. Very exciting!
If from a traditional art background (i.e. higher education in art) how do you think the institutions you were associated with have formed/ informed your practice?
I think my most formal lessons were learnt before my higher education started. The fundamentals of colour mixing I learnt at school and the disciplines of constant observation and a disciplined drawing practice I learnt during my one year foundation course. My higher education taught me how to talk about my practice and how to understand what I am doing now in the context of art history and the wider contemporary scene. After that, a job working in an art gallery gave me a glimpse into seeing things from the other side; a comprehension of what people like to buy and also the confidence that it is possible to survive as an artist. However, we learn every day and from every experience. You can be a great artist with no formal training at all.
Who are your inspirations in the art world?
In chronological order of influence in my life, a condensed list looks something like this; Andrew Fraser, Errol Le Cain, Otto Dix, David Elgey, Paul Cezanne, André Derain, Francis Bacon, Simon Müller, Barbara Hepworth, Yoko Ono, Edmund de Waal, Ronald F Smith, David M Martin, Domonic Hills, David Hockney, Peter Doig.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Externally, the Canal du Midi and the light of Southern France. Internally, my faith, my questions, my observations and reactions.
What kind of studio/ gallery space do you work in?
I have a wee room in my home, 3m x 4m. North light and neighbours peep through the window. I’m beginning to outgrow it now but it has been so nice working at home with my cat.
What advice would you give to people who want to get involved in art?
- If you are nervous, it shows that you care.
- If you want to be good, don’t give up practicing. If something seems impossible, carry on practicing until it is easy.
- Wear many hats. Once the first hurdle of learning how to make your work well has been leapt over you will still need to learn how to market your work and plan your time effectively to meet demands from galleries or private clients.
- Enjoy it. Or stop. There are easier ways to make a living!
What do you think is the importance of art to society?
Like an oasis in a desert, like a question posed by a child which exposes the fact that the emperor is naked, like bird song, Art is vital.