As a newly elected Fellow (RE) Veta was interviewed by Hatty Davidson for the Bankside Gallery Newsletter. Read the transcript of the interview here.
BANKSIDE GALLERY MAGAZINE / SEPT 2016 / TRANSCRIPT
Veta Gorner was born in 1974 in St. Petersburg, Russia where she studied Interior Design and Architecture, later moving to England. She studied printmaking at Morley College, London in 2002. Shortly after she was elected Member of the Greenwich Printmakers Association, and has since exhibited in London, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Helsinki. In 2014 Veta was successfully elected as an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers, becoming a Fellow this year.
Veta’s style combines the art of traditional printmaking with the dimensional qualities of highly embossed paper. With an express interest in the nature of motion and its dialogue with space, she creates images that are simultaneously vulnerable and resilient. Veta’s work uses a range of printing techniques from etching and lithography to silkscreen and collagraph to explore the very essence of what it means to be human.
Tell me a bit about artistic background and early art education…
For as long as I can remember there was always drawing, painting, creating and building something – not only passions but also compulsions. For a while I thought I could tame creativity for industrial applications: studying Architecture and Interior Design; working in an advertising agency then later as an art-director and graphic designer; picking up diverse creative skills en route. In the long run, skills learned are never wasted and generate unexpected connections and inventive breakthroughs – the most exciting discoveries usually happen on the margins of multiple mediums.
I had my first up-close encounter with an intaglio printing press at age 28. It happened by chance and with an instantaneous impact. Printmaking from the get-go felt a true fit for what I could and needed to do. So whilst my discovery of printmaking and arrival into the profession was both non-linear and accidental, it was in retrospect not totally unexpected and generated long-lasting consequences.
The idea of being an artist was always there but it was life’s events that created the catalyst. I was fortunate to have lived and worked in London surrounded by an incredible creative and multicultural community and support, encouragement and opportunities that came with it. I did not become a full-time artist overnight; and am, even now, gradually growing into the idea. I do however feel lucky to have art as my occupation and in no way take it for granted – endlessly re-evaluating the reasons for and ways of being and staying an artist.
What is it about the medium of print that so appeals to you?
It was the introduction to a printing press that created an artistic pursuit that has now lasted 14 years. Stepping into a printmaking studio and witnessing it in action for the first time – it truly felt like a light-bulb moment.
Firstly, it was apparent that the medium was brimming with unchartered creative possibilities. For somebody who likes to draw and tinker and who is not averse to problem solving, it provides a never-ending supply for inspiration, creative preoccupation and growth.
Arriving into printmaking from left field had advantages. Given my previous work in both 2D (graphic arts) and 3D (architecture) environments I saw from the start that creating original prints is an exciting mixture of both.
Handmade printmaking is a relatively slow considered process – resting on the resistant nature of the materials one works with and the time it takes to create actual objects. There is a lot of experimentation and problem solving during all stages from “designing” your artwork to producing it. The process is never dull: mistakes can become unexpected successes and it constantly challenges your perception of what “perfection” looks like.
In a world caught up in digital, transient, mass-produced and mass-distributed spin I think holding on to slower pursuits highlights the human need for creative originality and independence. As life relentlessly demands change I keep thinking of the press as a source of possible stability and grounding commitment.
Tell me about your influences and inspirations…
A human body is an inspiration and a recurrent theme. But I never use actual models or anatomical references. My images are mental fabrications courtesy of years of model drawing, anatomy and composition classes. This is liberating; a body in my work is a subject and a vessel for human complexities; not merely an object.
I am intrigued by how it feels to be alive and naturally draw inspiration from a myriad of human impulses and activities – what makes humans tick, provokes emotional responses and underlines our joint “humanity”. Among my many interests are animation, architecture, eastern aesthetic, renaissance drawing, interactive media, music, theatre, contemporary dance to name but a few. Early visual inspirations – Matisse, Escher, Bosch and interestingly, Lucas Samaras; many years ago his work “Mirror Cell” really flipped an idea of what art should be for me personally. Right now my “inspiration space” is overcrowded, I am constantly on the lookout for exciting art.
Has your work in advertising and graphic design influenced the way you work as a fine artist?
The way I work is a synthesis of all previous experiences; so I would have to say yes to a degree. The need to communicate deliberate ideas; that make one stop, look and think is critical to me. But art is not prescriptive and I tend to leave ambiguous ends wherever I can, inviting a viewer’s own imagination to interlock with what they see. Art is surely about communication and I tend to see it as a dialogue..
What does becoming a Member of the RE mean to you?
Being an artist is a precarious occupation where encouragement from one’s peers and sometimes well-meaning challenges elevates eventual outcomes. I think it is absolutely critical for any creative to have some degree of support and acknowledgement during their careers. Therefore I see the role of a society like the Royal Painter-Printmakers as an active agent in supporting artists at various stages of their careers; not solely through exhibitions and events but more importantly through informal friendships, mentoring and mutual encouragement. Shared experiences, the ability to give back and contribute are precious. I am honoured to have been elected initially an Associate and then a Fellow, it is a responsibility which cements a commitment to the profession.
What project are you currently working on?
There are always various projects on the go at any one time. I keep many note books trying to record ideas as they come and then allowing them to sweat out for a while returning to work on those I see as most challenging. Certainty is never a good start for me; I actually look forward to the resistance and challenges that the work throws at you. This “magpie” approach allows me to be open to unexpected influences and gives flexibility in creative choices.
Several projects are in the pipeline, one of which is a series of works inspired by the words of William Shakespeare, a project that came about as a result of the recent show at the Bankside Gallery, “Shakespeare: a Celebration”. I have always been fascinated by the interplay of imaginary and physical worlds and taking Shakespeare’s words, as references to visual ideas truly fuels imagination. I am currently halfway through creating a series of 37 photolithographs, collated from digitally manipulated drawings and photography, a new way of working for me. The series is meant to work together as a book and I am hoping to be able to publish it in the near-term.
Also, I am delighted that one of my latest images has been selected for the National Original Printmaking Exhibition this year. “Swell” is a part of a new series of 12 prints compiled under the title “Reverse Perspectives”. Naturally, it is inspired by matters of human cultural identity.