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Interview: Artist Abigail Reed

Posted on July 22, 2016

I have some very exciting news for you! Curious Duke Gallery has a new artist, with Abigail Reed joining our talented ranks. 
You can see more of Abigail Reed’s artwork here.
Name:  Abigail Reed
Discipline:  Drawing and painting
Where do you live? Bristol, UK
Where did you study? Cardiff School of Art, Wales
Stag head, Poise 2 
How did you start your artistic career?
I was always drawing, as a child I escaped to my drawings as a natural antidote to being bored! I took A-level Art then Art foundation in Bath, where I was born and grew up. I then went on to degree level. The more art I did, the more it consumed me and that was all I wanted to do. I did a lot of life drawing and huge charcoal drawings in the beginning, I never worked small, it was always big!
Your artworks are hauntingly beautiful and unique, but also very easy to say ‘That is an Abigail Reed artwork’. How did you find your style and medium?
It started with a lot of quick ink and charcoal life drawings, really good for loosening up and embracing an immediate and energetic way of working. I enjoyed the time limit of being in the life room and I still work very fast to this day, it keeps the work alive. It literally grew from there. The subjects were usually people, gigantic portraits that where larger than life, then I started to feel the need to get away from humankind and animals seemed like a good subject to escape to. Regarding the medium, I am always drawing, whether it be with charcoal, ink or oil paint. It’s all about the immediate nature of the medium, trying to capture line and form as it drips down the paper or canvas. It is a volatile way of working that explores the fragility of life.
Black horse
How does this relate to the idea that the further that we get from nature, the more we desire it?
I aim to bring the natural world closer to us. We can never shake that primal need for nature, however our lives evolve and become further from it. My paintings are large, bold expressions that celebrate the natural world. They preserve what exists and explore our relationship with nature, past and present. They explore the tension between us and nature and our need to ‘own it’, cage it in but fall in love with it too.
 I want people to be like children at the zoo, looking up in awe at a magnificent animal, something bigger and more powerful than you. I see them as representations of the ‘other’, they still our human anxieties but disturb something else. You can admire the beautiful but strange forms of nature, become at once enticed by it, but also slightly afraid.
The desire for nature will never die and I am helping keep it alive! 
Do you have a routine, or an exercise you have to do get you started? 
Never stop drawing! If you get into the studio and you feel a bit uninspired or afraid to start a new piece, I tend to do a big quick drawing to get myself out of it. Once you start it all just flows and it can transform your state of mind. You have to be disciplined to do this work. It’s a constant game of picking yourself up and propelling yourself forward and not being disappointed when things don’t go your way. My day tends to consist of painting/drawing in the studio in the morning, admin at home in the afternoon then family time later (I have kids).
Standing bear

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? 
Still painting and working towards bigger exhibitions. I’d love to show my large paintings in some big, grand spaces! Also I want to go on a residency to North America to see bears in the wild and draw them.

What is coming up next for you?
Hopefully showing more work with Curious Duke and other galleries I am affiliated with. I am running a workshop at a festival called Supernormal this summer, making masks using the animals in my paintings as inspiration. I will also continue to lead my kids art group called Scribble and Sketch in Bristol.
Do you have any reading suggestions?
The Maddaddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood…for other worldliness escapism.
Precious Bane by Mary Webb…she writes about nature like no other author I know!
Just looking up on my shelf right now, the art books I have are…Nicola Hicks, Jenny Saville, Marlene Dumas and lots of old books with B&W photos of animals in them that I hunt down in charity shops!
Liked this? Read our interview with artist Carley Cornelissen here
Written by Curious Duke Gallery blogger Sinéad Loftus.
Lover of all art and fluffy cats.