Vanessa Foley - http://www.vanessafoley.co.uk/
Her incredible technical skill and the sensitive rendering of her subject matter are evident in her beautiful and emotion pieces. We have shared her interview below to give a better insight into her inspirations and process!
I currently live in Newcastle, a formerly industrial town in the north of England that has gradually transformed into much more of a city of culture with an incredible art scene, so there are often gallery shows, open studios, or art walks to fill up my weekends.
But the real reason I love and am inspired by where I live lies just outside the city and in the Northumberland countryside. It's so varied and exciting with an equally diverse bird population, there are many seabird colonies where you can spot puffins, arctic terns and kittiwakes, and then inland there are moors, forests and lakes where pheasants, grouse and many species of raptors are regularly seen.
2. What inspires you to make art?
I know it sounds like a simple thing, but I am just very inspired by the birds themselves, they are my constant muse. Even if I'm having a horrendous day art wise, I can always be tempted to pick up the pencil or paints again when I see a beautiful bird. I go through phases of being completely obsessed by certain birds, endlessly watching videos of them, learning how they move, observing their mannerisms and reading about their habits. They, more than anything else, keep me making art.
I'm not really sure that there is any one specific message behind my work other than my intense desire to get people to look, appreciate and protect the precious natural world. Birds are so easily accessible to most of us wherever we live, even in a city you can be surrounded by them. And unfortunately it's the things that are the most common that are often the most overlooked, at least that's how it was for me for a long time. It wasn't until I started on a small series of bird paintings that I really started to look at them and that was it! I knew almost immediately that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I was absolutely smitten!
4. If you weren’t an artist, what would you do with your life?
To be quite honest I have absolutely no idea, even from being very young I have nurtured the desire to be an artist (although I also very much enjoyed the Tintin books and thought that would be a pretty cool job to have too!). And so although I have worked at various (non art related) jobs in the past, my heart has always been with my art, so being able to work at this full time is an absolute dream come true.
That being said, if Tintin ever retires, I might consider a career change!
I used to listen to music a lot as I worked, but recently I have switched to audiobooks, I'm going through a fairly serious Neil Gaiman phase at the moment, his work is a magical blend of fantasy and mythology and an absolute pleasure to listen to. I would say that his work especially has piqued my interest in mythology, I have occasionally worked on pieces blending mythology and natural history, these pieces have been incredible fun to work on and would love to explore this further in the future.
6. As supreme leader of the totalitarian regime which rules Vantarctica (or a much better name of your choosing) which artist/art movement would you censor and/or exile and why?
Such a great question and love the name of the country too, but also such a tricky one to answer as I tend to enjoy most art. I absolutely wracked my brains to think of a movement I really disliked, but every time I thought I had the answer my mind came back with a "yes, but remember that time/documentary/gallery visit that changed your mind" or "yes, but if you say that people will think you're an idiot!" and so had to go back to the drawing board.
So I had to adjust the question slightly and instead of a movement I would ban, I will ban a trend, and that trend would be only viewing art over the internet. Although I think the Internet is an incredible and invaluable source of information and visual stimulation, there is absolutely no substitute for actually getting off the sofa and visiting a gallery to see the work as the artist intended.
7. Conversely, whom would you commission to make your visual art propaganda?
Far easier to answer, my immediate choice would be the incredible bird artist Raymond Harris Ching! I'm not exactly sure what message I would want him to promote other than get yourselves out to visit art galleries (and remember to pick up a nice packet of bird food on your way back) and I'm not sure how much time he would have to produce art after I had questioned him endlessly for days about his painting techniques (pretty sure I know which artist he would be wanting to exile after that ordeal). But he would definitely be my choice and our message would be one of conservation and appreciation of all forms of life and beauty.
It would have to be backwards by default, I'm a very curious person and I know for certain that if I went forward the temptation to peek into my future life and see how things go would be irresistible and I'd ruin all the surprises life has in store for me (fingers crossed they are nice ones!)
9. Extrovert or Introvert?
I'm definitely an introvert, very happy with my own quiet company, something that makes spending long hours alone in a studio a very pleasant way to earn a living.
10. Outer space or deep sea?
The chance to visit either would be amazing but I think outer space would be my choice. Apart from the obvious beauty found there that I would love to see first hand, I think the vastness of space and the tininess of our planet would be the ultimate lesson in keeping things in perspective, my ability to stress about even the most insignificant thing knows no bounds!