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Charlotte Billingham; neither awake nor asleep

Production / Direction

What is your background?

I am a mixed-media artist and secondary school art teacher living and working in Shropshire, England. After completing a Fine Art degree at Loughborough University in 2011 I went on to study for a PGCE in Art & Design and have been teaching at the same school since 2012 which I absolutely love.

Teaching became the biggest part of my life and over time my own art practice became non-existent. Over the past three years I have made a conscious decision to re-engage with my practice again and feel more connected than ever with the forever evolving ‘art world’.

Describe your practice using only 5 words.

scratching, layering, covering, removing, revealing

How do you work?

I work from a small studio in my home and often begin many pieces at once so I can allow the work some space, repeatedly coming back to them over a longer period of time.

Many of my works are on boards as I like the physical weight of them and the smooth surface on which to build up textures and layers. I begin by making marks consisting of lines, shapes and words to break up the composition. I work with very ordinary media such as house paint (emulsions), pencils and biro and the process of building up surfaces, scratching them away, adding more and removing more to reveal what once was, becomes cathartic.

How do you know when a piece is finished?

I’ve had pieces that have sat for months at a time whilst I try to ‘live with’ them, only to take them back into the studio and completely begin again. Sometimes when I think I’m finished its hard to trust that decision but usually once a piece appears to have reached an aesthetic balance I move it to one side or hang it, stare at it and then give it some space. I find it really tempting to overwork pieces, but this is something I am trying to move away from.

What was your most recent exhibition?

I currently have work showing at The Hive, a creative centre in the heart of Shrewsbury, Shropshire. To date The Hive has worked with over 38,000 people in various charity projects.

‘neither awake nor asleep’ brings together 12 recent works made in the last 8 months and these will be shown until the end of August.

In September I am taking part in the Secret Severn Art Trail for the second year, which is a fantastic celebration of artists and makers in Ironbridge.

How has your practice changed over time?

I have always been interested in ‘balance’, whether that be the physicality of balancing objects within a space, or balancing marks on paper or board. My earlier practice explored these issues through industrial objects, re-contextualised within a gallery or studio space. Somehow these copper pipes, breezeblocks, glass sheets and strip lighting became beautiful things and their original connotations were somewhat removed.

As well as my actual art practice, my own mindset has changed in that I am no longer concerned with trying to make artwork to please others or to fit certain criteria. I make the work purely for myself and if others like it or want to spend their money on it than that makes me feel really good! on IG