Outside In winner, Dannielle Hodson
I was always artistic and took all artistic subjects at school. I did a BTEC in art and design at Telford college and then at the age of 17 went to St Martins College to do women’s-wear fashion. My BTEC was a real eye-opening experience and my teachers at the time, Colin and Dave, taught me how to be free, how to look and not stop looking and to really go with your instincts and feelings. I owe a lot to them. St Martins taught me that I didn’t know everything and that I would always only rely on myself, my vision, me.
I have always doodled, this is the art that I would say was very ‘me’. As a child my Nan would get me to scribble on a piece of paper and look inside and find as many faces as I could and so I’d spend hours lost in scribbles trying to find doodles and that’s how I became known as ‘danaedoodles’. So my Nan was my greatest inspiration as she taught me to see. It became such a natural way of seeing for me that I can see faces and people in all kinds of things now marble flooring, wooden fences torn off tube posters. She opened up a magical world for me and it’s a very safe place for me this world and when I was lost inside this world of the spaces in between I was always very happy.
I paint what I feel, I am not technically trained. I can only paint what I see so I break the face down into shapes and build the painting this way.
I am influenced by everything around me. I can’t look at art alone as an influence however Pablo Picasso is my hero: “An artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spiders web.” I feel his art is alive and I want mine to be too.
I also admire Jackson Pollock’s work as I can sit for hours and find thousand and thousands of people and movement in his work as it is so full of energy.
I find it strange I’m an outsider artist as I have had some training in the arts, not exactly in art though and it was being marginalized by society that caused me to have success. When you have nothing, the things you truly have are all you have to work with and I guess being in a margin must provoke this in others as it did in me.
For me to be an Outside In winner was phenomenal. I really did feel at the time that I was absolutely hopeless, and the painting I was doing was the only way I could keep in touch with what was normal for me in such extreme conditions of hardship. They were a life line for me. For this life line to then pull me out of such a dark place and give me hope and opportunity was incredible and for me proves it’s what’s on the inside that counts. If you stick to what you are and who you are this will always look after you in good and bad times. I was also lucky to be a Koestler winner and have my portrait used as the promotional poster so I was doubly lucky.
There are many themes and influences running through the exhibition. Generosity is the main theme in the sense that in prison I learned that nothing was of any value and all that I could give and be given was the self. There was also the question this poses about what I’m giving, is it really me. How far away from the truth are we when there are so many faces of the self? It’s about first impressions and the accuracy of these and also how far away from our own reflection are we, for example when we look in the mirror we are closer to it than the reflection is from you and so for this reason I’ve created distance from the image of me, a photograph with a painting and then made a photograph of this. Do we lose or gain something from this?
The influence of prison and justice is prevalent although not obvious. It is not about the past. It’s about how I feel now in response to those things and how I will grow from them. I have tried to question how people receive what you give them as a first impression. I don’t want to give too much away really but it involves a collaboration with ‘The curious confectioner’ and floor tiles!