Charlotte Evans studied fine art at Byam Shaw at Central St. Martins, UAL in London. She now lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has shown extensively in British and European art fairs and more recently, in New York in both solo and group shows. Her work is held in public and private collections around the globe including that of the UBS bank and the Imperial College Healthcare Charity Art Collection in the UK.
|Charlotte Evans in her studio||Paints and palettes in the studio|
What is your earliest memory of an artwork and who was it by?
My parents started taking me to exhibitions when I was still a babe in arms. But I don’t know that I started really looking at things closely until I started making things of my own. I distinctly remember standing in front of Matisse’s Piano Lesson when I was about 16 and being completely knocked out by it. Getting really close to it and getting lost in it. I didn't realise you were allowed to paint like that; that you could leave areas of the canvas untouched, that you could show the processes of making the work, that some areas could be so abstract but still so descriptive. I made a lot of decisions about what kind of work I wanted to make, about what kind of artist I was going to try to be while standing in front of that painting. I saw the painting again last year and I had exactly the same reaction. I think it’s extraordinary.
What is your favourite time of day to be in your studio?
I tend to get to the studio around 9 but if I do get there earlier, it’s wonderful - I feel the long stretch of the day ahead of me. The first day back after a few days away from work are especially good.
Talk us through a day in the life of Charlotte Evans - What does a day in your life look like?
I tend to work a full 8 hour day, Monday to Friday. I think being in the studio is really important. Time away is good, too, but I rarely take a day off during the week. If I’m not at the studio, I’m at my kitchen table making gouaches. Aside from a few months during winter, I cycle the 2 miles to the studio. It wakes me up and clears my mind, providing the perfect separation between home and work.
My studio is one of 11 semi private spaces in the same building with an exhibition space at the front. It can get pretty busy. But this provides a real sense of community and I no longer feel isolated in the way I did when I had a private studio. I’m almost always first to arrive so when I have the place entirely to myself I crank up the radio, BBC or PBS, make coffee and figure out which direction to set out in for the day. Once there, I tend not to step away until the end of the day - I’ll eat lunch looking at the work I’m making. Weekends are rarely spent in the studio; that’s family time and gives me enough separation from the work so solutions to things that I might have been struggling with, are more likely to be found.
How would you sum up your practice in 5 words?
Transporting, all-absorbing (for me making it, that is), colour-centric/curious, playful. And I’m just obsessed with paint. Is there a word for that?
|Making of Stag||Stag, 2015|
What or who are your most significant visual influences?
I spend an indecent amount of time looking at interior design magazines. My partner and I have a not uncommon but rather extreme addiction to Nordic Noir and we really like to travel. So that all gets thrown into the mix. I’ve always had a thirst for colour and Matisse was an instant hit with me as a child, and will forever be my greatest ‘art’ love. There’s an ever-growing list of painters, new and old: Chris Ofilli (his newer stuff), Amy Sillman, Patrick Heron an Lynette Yiadom Boakye to name a few. My new crush is Jules De Balincourt. And I’ve given up trying to deny my love for Peter Doig.
You studied in London and now have your studio in New York. How do you find the two locations have influenced your work?
I grew up in London but spent a lot of time away from it, too. My work was almost entirely ‘landscape’ when I was still living there and that work was most influenced by the time I spent out of the city. I grew up visiting East Anglia a lot, and Northern Italy so until I started travelling further afield my work was almost entirely based on those places. My work has always been a form of escape. But the work had already begun a slow change when I made the move to New York 5 years ago. For a long time I had been completely absorbed in exploring colour and light in landscape. But though I had started to feel the work was missing something, figurative work was still something I was unsure how to approach.
A year before leaving London I spent 6 months in Asia. I didn’t paint at all, just looked. When I got back I made a series of work that was, for the first time, almost entirely focused on people. Coming to New York, it was the people who most engaged me and I started to make small paintings of strangers while trying to find my feet. Moving was big. I left everything familiar, my family and friends. London was (and largely still is) a huge part of my identity. But moving gave me a chance to reinvent and really experiment with my work. In retrospect the reinvention wasn't so huge, I just took the inevitable steps I’d been avoiding, encouraged by the attitude and support of a group of artists I lucked upon just after arriving in NY, people fascinated by the processes of making work rather than distracted by the ‘Why?’ of making it. London always felt like ‘Why?’.
|Brick Wall, 2015||Float, 2013|
Your work is held in numerous private collections around the world. Do you pro-actively search out potential patrons and collectors? Which collections would you most like your work to be a part of?
I have bursts of proactive seeking-out. I have a wonderful relationship with an art consultant here in New York who is great at introducing me to people who in turn introduce my work to others. So largely it’s quite organic and I like that. I love meeting the people who own my work. Its great hearing why people choose the pieces they do, what they see in something, how they engage with it, what it reminds them of. As for public collections, there are so many great institutions - the Tate for one and MoMA, here in New York. But having people collect the work for love of it is the best thing.
What has been your most rewarding commission to date?
The least rewarding commissions are those from people asking for something similar to work I did years ago but in a palette that matches their scatter cushions or curtains. The most rewarding by far was from a friend who years ago asked me to make a painting for her. Her only stipulation was that the painting be of a place that meant a lot to me. So I made a painting of a river I spent a lot of time exploring and swimming in as a child. I still think it is one of the best paintings I’ve made and she still loves it. We were both young and not making much money, so the very fact she wanted to buy something was mega. And what she asked for.
|Reflected (mangroves), 2013||Quilt, 2016|
What convinced you to join Bridgeman Studio for licensing, and what are your hopes for working as a Bridgeman Studio artist?
I’ve known about Bridgeman Library for about 10 years having met Harriet Bridgeman. That was enough in itself but the quality and calibre of artists and collections that Bridgeman Library works with and is responsible for licensing is astounding. To be associated with that through Bridgeman Studio is wonderful. Licensing my work I hope, will allow for a kind of collaboration that wouldn’t otherwise be available to me, giving the images potential for wider ‘life’ beyond those of originals.
What would you most like to see your images licensed for?
I’ve always loved the idea of my work being used for a book cover. But I am quite jealous of Peter Doig’s tie and beach towel.
|Twitchers, 2016||Into the Shadows, 2015|
If you could pick 5 artists, dead or alive, to have dinner with who would they be and why?
Rembrandt, Matisse, Henri Cartier Bresson, Ivon Hitchens and Elizabeth Frink. There are lots of people I would love to sit down with, listen and talk to, but these are the first 5 I thought of. I actually would like to pack my sandwiches and spend time just watching them all work. When you admire someone’s work so much, as a maker, you are fascinated by the way things are made, the physical and creative processes.
I remember hearing Henri Cartier Bresson in an interview, talk about taking photos. When he saw something, he would go up on one tiptoe, snap a picture before his balance and momentum moved him forward and the moment had passed. The spontaneity was important, the captured moment. Every artist’s approach and process is different and I would love the opportunity to learn from them all.
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