Meet Theresa Patterson, our artist of the month for February. Inspired by nature, she now works from her garden shed which she converted into a studio after her work ‘Hair Today, Here Tomorrow’ was shown at the Environments exhibition. This painting , amongst others from the exhibition, is available to buy at our new online shop. She talks about her experience of homelessness, her concerns for the environment and how love conquers all…
Why/ when did you start making art?
I started making art when I was homeless with two small children when my home was repossessed by Lloyds bank. My only way of coping was with making art. I still have health problems because of these horrendous past problems. I managed to keep going in spite of these obstacles with the love of my children and art work. I then did a course of fine arts at The Phoenix art establishment in Brighton. Did not finish the foundation course due to the lack of funds. I have since worked on my own and developed my own personal way of working.
Where do you work?
My art work was selected by Outside In “HAIR TODAY HERE TOMORROW”, last year for the Environments exhibition. I was so empowered that I’ve now turned my garden shed into my studio which I share with lots of spiders and my cat, Ella Fitzgerald. Before this I worked in my living room which became cluttered and was not very inspiring.
How would you describe your
Most of my pieces are about conservation and preservation of our Rain Forests. I was born in Guyana, which has two thirds of its pristine jungle’s land mass as part of the Amazon Rain forest. My childhood days were surrounded by nature. Birds, butterflies, beetles, wild animals.I acknowledge my Amerindian heritage and celebrate their way of life which has not changed much for hundreds of years. I write poetry of most of my pieces and hope one day to publish them with the illustrations of my art.I am much grieved by the continual destruction of the forest.
Do you follow a set process or does it vary?
I do not follow a set process. It is usually of the moment and what moves me. Sometimes I feel possessed and the piece leads me onto a creation. This could begin with the pain I feel with mindless destruction I see on the news without a thought for our beautiful planet by the perpetrators.
What inspires your
I am inspired by my love of nature. A spiritual love. Amerindian people’s spirituality is all about nature. There is a wind god, a god of the rivers and water, a god of mountains, trees, animals, insects, flora and fauna and the elements. This I feel within and is my motivation and inspiration. I also am inspired by my African heritage. Some African tribes apologise and say a prayer to the animal they may kill to eat which the Amerindian people also do. Respect for all living things. Some African countries are making forests in the desert by planting trees. Their way of life has improved. The trees create shade to grow food. Some are destroying rain forest thus creating deserts.
Do you have any creative role models?
The artists I meet who keep working at their art work despite many obstacles are some of my role models. I admire Barbara Hepworth’s work who managed to work and took care of her children at the same time. Turner had a very difficult childhood and found a way through by painting. Rodin is one of my role models as a sculptor. He suffered with severe arthritis but continued to work. Grayson Perry’s support of Outside In artists and the organisation is a great example as a role model. Just some of the many role models I admire.
Are there particular themes that run through your work? If so, what are they?
Most of the themes of my work are to do with our natural world. I also have a poem in my head about what I am doing at the time. For me, poetry is closely connected to my art work. I think “No rhyme no Reason”, to do art work and also “No art work no Rhyme”
Do you think about an audience when you are making work? If so what do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
Yes, my audience would be the disbelievers and people motivated by greed. I hope they get my message and think that their actions only lead to destruction.
What is your favourite work of art (by another artist)?
I love “THE KISS”, by Rodin. Love conquers all. We need to love more. “ALL WE NEED IS LOVE” by BOB MARLEY.
What has been the standout moment for you as an artist so far?
I was gobsmacked to be chosen to exhibit my art work by Outside In at the Environments exhibition. Very empowering and a great motivator to keep doing what I do.
Is there an artwork you are most proud of/ favourite piece?
My favourite piece of work is the painting I did of my dancing daughter. I love her very much. My children are my shining stars. I am doing a series of paintings of all my children.
What are your hopes for the future?
I have been planning to publish a book of my poems illustrated with my art work. I would like to do work with young people and motivate them to use creativity as self expression. Down the line, they become our future Outside In artists spreading the word as ambassadors. A great way to give hope to our young people hacking their way through this jungle of life.