SHOW AND TELL.
An interview from a while back (and some of my answers would be different now) but worth sharing!
DEBORAH FRENCH ARTIST
Local artist Deborah French fills her life with colour. Bright bright colour. We are lucky to have her in our backyard here in Taranaki nestled in the Kaitake ranges. Deborah is a warm heart. A lover of animals. A lover of the land. But mostly a lover of art. We were lucky enough to be invited into her colourful world and her studio space for a walk about. The studio space ‘Twist’ is a beautiful assortment of organized chaos. Fabrics, ceramics, printing presses, paints, needle and thread, kilns, a cat and sometimes the wandering chook. ‘Twist’ is a place where anything is possible and creativity oozes off the walls. Deborah has been a long standing artist of KINA’s. We support her creativity and love to see the amazing works she produces. Thank you again Deborah for having us over- we look forward to the next time!XO
How long have you been creating? Has it always been in this medium?
I have been creating as long as I can remember. It has always been what I did any chance I could. Dad was a sign writer and my Mum was into “creativities”. In fact now that you have made me ponder this, I see that the whole extended family all have different ways of ways of creative expression. I know that when I can not create, I do become unreasonable and struggle to keep myself on an even keel. Creating is my way to keep focused and to process what happens in my life. Most of my life I have painted in Gouache/Acrylic and made prints. The last three years I have been using ceramics as my preferred medium. It has been a big learning curve and has challenged me on many levels. I have recently settled into just jumping between whichever medium takes my fancy to express the ideas being worked on.
Who taught you or how did you learn your craft?
Many wonderful people have been there to answer the questions as I went! I did specialise in Art Teaching at Auckland Teachers College and was an art teacher for many years. I went to Tom Kriesler’s night classes for nearly 8 years. He was pure inspiration and a delight. When I changed to media to ceramics, I again went to night classes with Diane Sommers and at ‘The Vicarage’. Dale Copeland has always helped me answer random questions. She is a delight to spend time with. I have done the Advanced Diploma in Art and Creativity with the Learning Connection. Currently I am doing my Masters(clinical) in Arts Therapy.
If you weren’t creating your artworks what would you be doing?
I can’t imagine not creating in one way or another! I would have liked to been a florist or Jeweller…in fact time is my issue. There is so much I want to try and do. When I am not creating I spend my time with my family, the horses, the garden and my chickens. We live on a lifestyle block. People joke that lifestyle blocks are a ‘lifestyle sentence’ and in many respects that is true…there is always so much to do…but I love it. Everything here is creating. I see it as me helping the wider universe creation. I make my stuff in the studio and I help the wider universe with its stuff on the farmlet. I hope that makes some sense.
Have you passed on your techniques onto others? Whom?
I have through teaching. Up until recently I was an intermediate art specialist. I no longer teach art. I now teach new entrants. I learn so much from them about human nature and imagination. I have taught adult classes in the past. Mainly I now share much the same way as I learn, through the network of fellow artists…we all share information and learn from each other.
Is there a specific piece you have created that is dearest to your heart? If so, why?
Tricky little question. I guess the first piece in a series is always dear to my heart because it represents the biggest part of the problem solving and thinking. Often the first pieces have a raw unexplainable energy. I rarely let the first pieces go. I like to refer back to them and not lose sight of the energy that went into the process. So I keep the first dog, the first London Bus painting etc. I paint family pictures about ‘firsts’ as well…like when Ella lost her first tooth. They are hard to let go.
If you could plan your perfect day what would it consist of from start to finish?
I have two plans……Plan A. Eggs that Clyde cooks me fresh from our hens, a ride on the beach on my horse Waaka Knight, maybe take the caravan for a drive to the coast to park up and do some photography, beach combing, reading, creating and thinking. We go to Raglan for 10 days each Summer and do just that! Plan B. Wander and explore a new city with Clyde and the kids.
What is your favourite meal and who would prepare it for you?
Easy. Clyde makes mean poached eggs on toast with feta and tomatoes and fresh herbs from our garden. The eggs are laid by our hens, too. Fantastic.
If you were to be an animal which one would you be?
Horses are my favourite animal. I would like to feel the freedom of speed and power. But birds are also cool. They get a different perspective on the world.