“If somebody had said at the time, that’s exactly what you want Gary, you want that response, you want to be able to do anything you like. But nobody says that and nobody says, if you know what you want to do, do it. They only say, go to college.” A conversation with Gary Sollars

Gary Sollars is an artist based in Liverpool, whose achievements include exhibiting in the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery and in the John Moores Painting Prize. As well as making paintings, Gary is creator of Dollman Disco performance events, he writes poems, makes videos, performs stand up comedy and has recently been working on a children’s book called The Imagination License Bureau. Gary loves dancing, ice cream and men. Ideally, just one.

“I’m not at all saying that it’s bad to make work about race, far from it. But I do think that it’s expected of you as an artist of colour.” A conversation with Millie Toyin Olateju

Millie Toyin Olateju is originally from Liverpool but went to London to study Fine Art at Westminster College of Art, returning again to her home town after a short stint in Peterborough. Since returning to Liverpool Millie has worked with artist Jessica Stanley on mural commissions and actively shown work on her Instagram profile. She was recently part of a project at Bluecoat, organised by Sumuyya Khader, titled Celebrating Liverpool’s Black Artists, featuring billboard style pastings along Bluecoat’s façade.

We met with Millie at The Bridewell Studios in September 2020, after the first lockdown restrictions eased. At this time, Millie had been making small works on paper, some of which she brought to our meeting.

“I am apprehensive to put titles on the work, because I feel like once you take away someone else’s experience of seeing a piece, it loses the possibility to be anything.” A conversation with Zahra Parwez.

Originally from Greater Manchester, Zahra Parwez has been based in Liverpool since graduating from Liverpool Hope University in 2019. Zahra was presented with The Corke Exhibition Award on completing her degree course and subsequently exhibited with The Corke Art Gallery in Liverpool. After graduating, Zahra spent time working as an intern on a Liverpool based TV drama until the pandemic hit, while also continuing her artistic practice from home.

We met with Zahra in the summer, as lockdown restrictions were easing, and chatted while looking at a recent sketchbook that she had been working on during lockdown. Zahra told us a bit about working on a TV set and her decision to come to Liverpool to study Fine Art.

“May a brush mark be compared to a word, a sound – a note vibrating in space?” A conversation with Bernadette O’Toole.

Bernadette O’Toole is a UK based artist/researcher and Associate Lecturer in Art and Design at Sheffield Hallam University. In 2020 she completed a practice-based PhD at Sheffield Hallam University. Her research, Beyond the Space of Painting and Poetry: Mallarmé and the Embodied Gesture re-imagines the space of painting through the space of poetry – through a network of reciprocal relations manifest in Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem Un coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard, (A throw of the Dice will never abolish Chance). She writes, ‘Mallarmé’s generative poem, distinguished by its capacity for multiple and simultaneous readings weaves together word, image and sound. It is through this lens that I approach painting, through an expanded understanding and re-evaluation of the relation between the space of painting and poetry, and discourses that underpin spatial and temporal readings of the text. In other words, I work across disciplines, across languages, differentiating between disciplinary codes and conventions and between modes of reading, writing, speaking and painting’.

“The act of painting is for myself, but the paintings are not for me, they are for whoever is curious to know more about them, have them, look at them.” A conversation with Joana de Oliveira Guerreiro

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Joana de Oliveira Guerreiro has lived and worked in Liverpool since 2015. Before pursuing a career in art, she studied Military Strategy and worked for NATO in Brussels. In 2019 Joana undertook a residency with CreArt in Valladolid, Spain and exhibited the work she made there at Output Gallery in Liverpool. In February 2019 she participated in Refractive Pool’s Contemporary Painting in Liverpool Symposium at Liverpool Hope University’s Capstone Theatre. Joana and Josie recently had a correspondence conversation about her work, how she came to be a painter and how her ideas are realised through painting.

“I think there are certain images, or ways of setting things up within a framework, within a canvas, or room, or sculpture or whatever, that are so idiosyncratic and specific to the artist. A way of arranging things that is as personal as handwriting.” A conversation with Luke Skiffington.

Luke Skiffington is an artist based at Make Hamilton Square. Luke moved to Liverpool from Oxford in 2019. He studied for a BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London, from 1997-2000 and for an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art from 2003-2004. He was artist in residence at CAMAC, Marnay-sur-Seine (near Paris), France in 2006 and La Napoule Art Foundation, Chateau La Napoule, France 2005.

He has exhibited internationally since 1999. His exhibitions have included ’Blue Screen’ at The Glass Tank, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK 2019, ’Manuscript-Letter Home,’ China Academy of Art Museum, Hangzhou, China 2017, ‘Artist Of The Day 2016’, Flowers, London, Luke Skiffington/Andy Jackson, Interview Room 11, Edinburgh, 2015 and ‘The Unassuming Eye’, Sobering Galerie, Paris, 2014.  His work was selected for BEEP Painting Biennial 2020, Elysium Gallery, Swansea in October 2020.

We met with Luke in his studio not long after he moved in. We started off talking about Luke’s recent move to Liverpool.

“A painting is both an image and an object. I like to get these two things to influence each other. It’s important to me that I make objects; things in the world.” A studio visit with Jason Thompson.

Jason Thompson is an artist based at Metal Edge Hill Station. He studied at Chelsea College of Art & Design from 1990 to 1995, completing a BA and an MA in Fine Art. Jason’s work is included in the collections of The Walker Art Gallery, The Arts Council Collection and the Office of Public Works, Ireland. Jason was shortlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize in 2010 and for the Liverpool Art Prize in 2014. He is currently represented by Wilson Stephens and Jones, London and BDDW Annex Gallery, New York. 

We visited Jason at his studio to chat about his practice, where his ideas come from, how he goes about making a painting and how he feels about his work.

“On my residency I realised, what I create, is like a little world, an escape. It’s an escape for me, but also for other people when they look at it.” A conversation with Cherie Grist.

Cherie Grist is an artist based at 104 Duke Street Studios in Liverpool, which she also manages. Cherie recently undertook a residency with Cel del Nord, located in the small village of Oristà in the Lluçanès region of Catalonia. We met Cherie at 104 Duke Street, where she occupies a large open space to accommodate her large-scale paintings. Standing in Cherie’s studio feels rather like standing inside one of her paintings. Her working area includes one large wall dedicated to paintings in progress, a comfy seating area, a desk area, a wall stacked with finished paintings and another covered with brightly coloured images. The colours she likes to use in her paintings are everywhere.