We are thrilled to have renowned Belper artist Ruth Gray as our featured artist for March. She is having a solo exhibition at the gallery from 17th March to 1st April, “Woodlands and Riverpaths”.
Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in over 100 exhibitions. Currently she is a member of The Peak District Artisans as well as an associate member of Banks Mill Studios in Derby. She is a professional member of the Society of all Artists and helps to co-run the Derbyshire Regional SAA Art Group. She is in demand as an art demonstrator and a qualified adult education trainer doing talks, training groups as well as one to one tutoring. Here is our interview with her:
- Why did you decide to become an artist? I didn’t ever decide to become an artist. In fact I tried very hard not to be an artist by working in ‘normal’ jobs but unfortunately artists are born artists. No matter what I tried to do otherwise, I realised that I am an artist and always was and always will be. There’s always that nagging feeling that you should be painting or creating rather than doing absolutely anything else. This can be very inconvenient and infuriating for everyone who has ever lived with an artist!
- What inspires you? Light and the way it falls on a landscape, building or object, changing it just for that perfect fleeting moment, enough to make something ordinary extraordinary.
- What medium of art do you prefer? I am a painter, mainly because my Auntie introduced watercolours to me at a very young age. I painted with watercolours until I was thirty and went to Australia where I changed over to acrylics. To capture the vibrant colours of that landscape, I have stuck to acrylics ever since. Because of their flexibility they can be used like watercolours or like oils, as well as their wonderful mixed media possibilities.
- Which artist inspires you the most and how have they influenced your work? Several artists inspire me not only for their work but for their work ethic. The most successful artists just get up and get on with it day in day out. One of my favourites is Norman Akroyd. He lives above his studio and wakes early and creates wonderful landscape images of the British Coast line. Other artists I follow on the internet that inspire me are Haidee Jo Summers and Adebanji Alade. They inspire me for their positive attitude and persistence. My work is not influenced by theirs but the approach to my work is.
- Apart from your own art, you are quite involved in other areas of the local art world, could you please elaborate on that? Artists work alone for the most part. There is a network of us all hidden away, making and creating, all pouring our hearts out on paper, canvas, or whatever is our medium. It is quite an odd thing to do so I think it’s nice when we can meet up and talk about what we are up to, or share opportunities with each other, just connect with likeminded folk. So with the help of my friend Karina Goodman we have set up Purple and Grey which runs artist networking events, art group meets, en plein air sessions alongside one to one art business advice. I have also been marketing for art groups and galleries since 2003 writing copy for blogs and social media, magazine, and newspaper articles. I love doing anything that promotes art to a wider audience.
- What do you regard as your major achievement? I rarely enter art competitions so I’m not an artist that can reel off a list of prizes. I do love learning and going back to university to finish my degree in International Fashion Business as a mature student at Nottingham Trent University and gaining a First-Class Honours when my son was only six months old, was to me a lifelong ambition achieved.
- Where do you see yourself going from here? I work in series and lately I have set myself strict parameters with my artwork to concentrate only on Derbyshire. Narrowing down my field in this way has given me a focus in my work, so for the future I may narrow down the focus even further, enabling me to really explore in more depth and therefore discover much more about this fascinating county.