The 60/60 Project #60 Richard Rochester

Richard Rochester

Showing at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital

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Where do you find inspiration?
Most recently , really close to home – on my doorstep, increasing my awareness of what’s in striking distance from my home. the Quay has amazing Swans, Cormorants, Moor Hens and where the flood defence work has opened up much of that area.

Do you keep a sketchbook? Describe it for us.
Generally speaking I normally use are the Moleskine A6 ones with squared paper – I sketch from the front and write from the back. A lot of it is working out dimensions of things, numbers with a fine pencil.

What experiences or memories have played a role in your art-making practice?
My Mum was an artist, she showed me work by people like Durer, Turner, Breugel – she was a key influence in my development. I loved things like Durer’s animals, but his small monogram as well. And the self-confident self portraits, there’s something about these artists that when I saw their work as a kid I thought ‘Wow – there’s someone who knows his place in the world.’
And the ‘Hunters in the Snow’ – being out with my air rifle, I could relate to that!

Who are your influences?
At the moment – Gerhard Richter, Winslow Homer- his depth of colour, but I love Clyfford Still, but also the subtle stuff – Reinhardt with his black… Rothko…

Do you have any rituals or routines before making work?
I like to clear all those little chores, tie up the loose ends and it’s 4 in the afternoon when I feel, ‘Now’s the time for work’. I’m trying to be strict about distracting things – non-urgent emails. A good audio book, music, and a whiskey!

What do you listen to when you’re working?
Currently = Sapiens: ‘A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari‎ and Andrew Marr’s ‘History of the World’ – both staggering pieces of work that take you into a different space – you question what it is to be human and your place in history, and what the point is… The more you listen to this stuff – you either go massively large or into miniscule, focussed work.

Does research play a role in your process? What is something that you have recently researched?
Spending time out as possible – soaking things up, taking them in – in a wood or river, just sitting and less rushing. And a lot of photography. Processes – I’ve been studying about tools and processes for printmaking – things that suit my style of work and where I want to take it – Mezzotint – excites me, I’m exploring that. Pinterest is a great tool for that – I can spend hours checking out what other people have done so far in the field.

What’s the most challenging material you’ve worked with?
I like to push the boundaries, meeting those challenges – running watercolours through airbrushes,

What’s your favourite tool?
I’m really pleased with a set of Sailmaker’s needles that I got from George Stuart from Lympstone back when I had a boat. They’re great for drypoint – I found out recently – I’ve had them for years, just waiting in my sewing kit! The flat face means you can scratch, burnish – so simple. And they live in this lovely scrap of waxed paper from the sailmakers…

What is one thing you hope people will take away from experiencing your work?
Sometimes the most banal things can be interesting or even beautiful if you just stop and look..

Are there any comments about your work that have stayed with you?
I love the comments that get written in the book at shows – ‘Stunning’ ‘Fantastic’ Someone once gave me a whole raft of provocations – ‘Go abstract! Ditch the charcoal! Get Dirty!’
But the most common occurrence is ‘Inspiring’ – I hear from people who leave the show and go home and engage with making art, or follow their own interest, give it a go.

Tell us something that you’ve learned in the last year.
Keep it simple – I’ve historically spent a lot of time on things that haven’t been better artworks for it. On a big scale people will forgive loose marks, but smaller work needs to be created with light touch and kept simple.

What are you looking forward to this year?
As Artist in Residence for Devon Wildlife Trust – getting down to Salcombe, some quality time there and at Bystock. Time in the kayak, soaking it all up! Playing with colour.

Recommend an unusual place in Exeter or Devon for us to visit.
Meeth quarry, near Okehampton, a DWT reserve. It’s a very tranquil old clay quarry – the light reflected from the bottom of the quarry is a beautiful turquoise, and it’s flat, accessible for walking, you can sit in the bird hide.

What are you excited about showing at Art Week Exeter?
The introduction of colour – I’ve been a monochromist for so long! And bringing drypoint into my repertoire, it feels like I’ve been given license to experiment!

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