Hiding in Full View - Alison Watt interview
The painter discusses her latest exhibition, a response to American photographer Francesca Woodman
What first made you want to be a painter?
My father is a painter, so the idea of looking at and making paintings has always been a very normal and natural activity for me. The place I felt most at home as a child was in my father’s studio. It seemed to me that behind its door lay another, more exciting world. If I think about it now I can still conjure up its sights and smells. I can still see its contents of books and stuffed animals, of weird African carvings and artefacts. But most of all I remember the room being full of paintings; hanging on the wall, stacked against it, propped up on easels, lying on the floor … I have no memory of ever wanting to be anything else other than a painter.
Your new exhibition is a response to works by Francesca Woodman. What aspects of Woodman’s photography particularly fascinate you?
There is an exquisite little painting in the collection of The National Gallery in London from 1630 entitled ‘A Cup of Water and a Rose’ by Francisco de Zurbaran, which in my mind connects with Woodman’s work. Ostensibly, this little picture is a collection of objects; but I read it as a painting that is powerfully about the artists sense of self. One of the many things that intrigue me about Woodman’s photographs is her own use of the object in her self-portraits, how the two elements of object and self often merge and how sometimes in her images we are only left with the object.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the exhibition?
That really is a difficult question to answer. I guess I hope people will want to spend time with the work. So far it has only existed for me, in my studio. It’s now about to take on another life.
Which other living artist should be better known than they currently are?
Without a doubt, Andrew Miller, who is currently exhibiting in You, Me, Something Else at GOMA.
Alison Watt: Hiding in Full View: Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 5 Nov–Sat 28 Jan.