Colin Moore was born on the Clyde Coast of Scotland in 1949. He studied architecture in Glasgow, and following an international career in architecture and design, has worked mainly as a painter and printmaker since 2004. He has lived in Spain, Venezuela and London and currently lives in Dorset, England. We’ve been showing his prints in our gallery, For Arts Sake, for a number of years and we paid him a visit this summer at his new studio in Dorset to find out what life’s been like since he moved from London and to see his new studio space as well as discovering what he’s currently working on. You can find out more about Colin Moore in our interview with him here:
Let’s start from the early days. Where did your printmaking journey begin?
It began in London about ten years ago. I’d been painting more or less full-time for a couple of years and took a course in printmaking with Frank Connolly at Morley College.
You have a background in architecture and design and we wondered if that shaped your work or have you relished the opportunity to be freer in your work?
A lifetime spent in architecture and design has shaped my work as it shaped my life. That said, when it came to drawing and painting, which I’d always been involved with, there was a distinct style there. How architecture and design exactly contributed to that style is a mystery to me.
You’ve lived abroad a lot, notably in Spain and Mexico. How did this influence you – have you seen your colour palette change as result of living in different climates & landscapes?
Everything counts. When I lived in Madrid my office was close to the Prado. I’d spend my lunch hours in there looking at a different picture every day. Later, in London, I’d do the same thing in the National Gallery. Climates, landscapes, cultures; they all count, though I believe that my attitude to colour is as much due to my being Scottish as it is to anything else.
Many of your prints are created using a multi-block linocut technique. Can you tell us a bit about your process, technique and how you begin a piece of work?
My process is as simple and straightforward as I can make it. I go for walks with a little sketchbook, small enough to put in my pocket. I stop and draw standing up with a bit of pencil, quick loose sketches which don’t dwell on detail. Back home, using scanner, computer and printer I transfer the image to lino blocks as faithfully as possible, then cut the blocks and make the prints.
Your prints of the seaside are very popular in our gallery, capturing a sense of nostalgia for the holidays and trips to the coast. Has the sea always been an influence for you?
Yes, it has. I was born by the sea and on my mother’s side all my ancestors were sailors. I like the mountains and the town but I belong on the shore.
Of course the sea isn’t all ice cream and fun on the pier – you also depict the livelihoods around the sea such as in your boatyard prints, with a sense of declining livelihoods. How much does your work also contain an element of social commentary?
Well, I don’t often begin a picture with the idea of making a social comment. But if you care about your subject it will probably come out somehow and there’s no doubt that many of our coastal communities have seen better days.
In your prints you manage to capture movement within the landscape such as deckchairs blowing in the wind. How difficult is it to achieve that dynamism?
It’s true I enjoy movement in my pictures. They’re mostly landscapes, often sea and skyscapes and it’s the very changeableness of these things which thrills me and draws me to them as subjects. I often deploy details which evoke this movement – smoking chimneys, flying birds, washing lines and the like, but the true dynamism is in composition, and in the animation of line and colour.
How important is it to you to capture the sense or a place rather than a reproduction of a place?
I have no interest in the reproduction of a place as such, though offering the viewer the chance to recognise a place can bring something useful to the work. Balancing that with the sense of a place and the emotion it gives rise to is what makes it interesting.
In addition to being a printmaker, you also paint. How do the two disciplines influence each other?
I’m not sure to be honest, though I’m sure they do influence each other. Sometimes a painting will suggest a print, sometimes it’s the other way round. But drawing is the start of it all.
In 2010 you published your first book ‘Propaganda Prints: Art in the Service of Social and Political Change’. Can you tell us a bit about this and what impact you think the current period of social and political change might have culturally.
At the time a publisher invited me to come up with an idea for a book. I’d just returned from Mexico, deeply impressed by the political art I saw there, so I made a proposal which offered to review propaganda art through the ages. They accepted it and I spent two years on the project, a rewarding experience, though it did rather take over my life at the time. I have no idea what impact the current period of social and political change might have culturally. Scary to think about it.
A couple of years ago you moved from London to the Jurassic Coast in Dorset and we understanding that with your wife and fellow artist, Jazmin Velasco, you’ve set up Chaldon Studios. What are the aims of the studio and how are you finding your new life?
The main aim is to provide us with the space and equipment to produce the best work we can, and also to offer our friends the opportunity to work in peaceful and inspiring surroundings. Our new life suits us very well. We think we’re really lucky.
We’re delighted to have recently received some of your latest work at the gallery. Can you tell us a bit about them and also what your next plans are?
The new work continues to develop established themes, and inevitably begins to reflect my local surroundings. I hope to introduce more abstraction, more freedom, to my work and to spend more time outside, yes you guessed, on the seashore.
To see more of Colin Moore’s work click here.
To see Colin Moore at work see this short film of him in his studio: