This week Brighton Journal spoke to Gareth Hayward, whose semi-abstract atmospheric paintings explore imagined landscapes. Gareth leaves areas of his landscapes ‘unfinished or blurred’, inviting the viewer to complete the painting by recalling a memory or recognising something that is familiar to them. He is currently working on his HIDE collection, and is also using photography to create limited edition prints. We discussed why Gareth left his career in fashion to become a full time artist, and how Brighton’s surrounding landscape ignited his passion for painting again. Take a look.
What are you doing today?
I’m sorting my studio space out. In a small space things get messy very quickly. I need to stop, clear the surfaces and organise everything.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
I have a small studio at home, a converted loft space. It’s compact but holds everything I need and at least it’s all contained in one room. Sometimes I will sit on the sofa with my sketchbook and work on new ideas.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
It will always be my next project. I am constantly researching and thinking of new ideas that I would like to develop. I can disregard work very quickly so I must remind myself to slow down and complete what I start.
What made you decide to become an artist?
I worked in fashion for over 20 years as a womenswear designer and textile artist. As my career progressed, I became less creative. Managing a team of people and having endless meetings was not what I wanted. I created work on the weekends and exhibited when I could throughout this time but I became increasingly frustrated with the day job, so 4 years ago I took the plunge. I quit my job and became a full time artist.
What are you currently working on?
Currently working on several projects at the same time which is something i always do. It’s just the way I work. I’m working on my HIDE collection (oil paintings) and more limited edition prints for my website. I am in the early stages of developing some larger mixed media paintings but also working on a couple of projects which may take my creativity in a very different direction.
What are the key themes in your work?
At the moment it’s landscapes as I’m working on a collection of oil paintings. However my themes can change dramatically as you will see from my website. My photographic prints use taxidermy, butterflies and flowers but also brutalist architecture. I guess there is a common thread to most of my work but i can throw a curve ball into the mix just to keep you interested.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
My Paintings are of imagined places and semi abstract. I want people to see something familiar to them, to recall a memory and recognise this place. I also want them to complete the painting, I leave areas unfinished or blurred. I hope I provide just enough information to form the landscape.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
I work with different mediums, I choose what best suits the piece I’m working on. At the moment I’m using acrylic and oil paints. With both I can achieve a wide variety of techniques. From thin layers and glazes which I build up over time, to areas of solid block colour. I love the versatility these paints offer.
What equipment could you not do without?
A notebook. I like to write things down or sketch ideas for future projects.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by anything and everything. I have a phone full of the most random images which I constantly refer to. It could be a picture I’ve taken from a film I’m watching (I’m constantly pausing the TV) or a photo I’ve taken from a walk over the weekend. Inspiration can come from a colour, a texture or something I have in a recent exhibition or museum.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
Moving to Brighton a few years ago has dramatically changed my work. I previously used photography to transform my ideas into artwork but Brighton and the surrounding landscape ignited my passion for painting again. I was brought up in a small coastal village close to the lake district from which I always wanted to escape. After living in London for over 20 years I have settled in a City by the sea which is now perfect for me.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
Quite simply – to walk. I do not drive so I walk everywhere and whatever the weather I always walk along the seafront. I have also seen more live events in Brighton over the past few years than I ever did in London. Comedy and live music, everything is on my doorstep. I can’t wait for my social life to return.
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
I will go anywhere, public gallery space to the local village hall. For me it’s more about the exhibition, I can get as much enjoyment out of looking at a few local artists’ work as I would from seeing one of my favourite artists retrospectives. I have also recently been watching documentaries on Sky Arts and BBC iPlayer due to the restrictions. That’s the great thing about technology at the moment.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
I don’t think it would be an artist. It would be with a creative from another field, architect, sculptor, furniture designer or someone in film. I would love to translate my ideas in another creative way. I can also be quite indecisive so it’s a tough question.
What’s your favourite colour?
I’m always drawn to green and shades and tones of grey.