The processes of etching and drawing are your chief practices, can you tell us why?
I’ve always loved the immediacy of drawing, and the mediums ability to get to the heart of the matter. Whilst etching is a much more elaborate process, it takes drawing to another level. Both processes could be considered quite limiting, but I like the challenge of working within those limitations and attempting to push the boundaries of what’s possible. The hope is that this forces something unique from the work.
Are there particular materials you prefer working with and for what reason?
I prefer a hard ground etching with a needle for the finest line, much of my work is developed using accumulative drawing techniques, so the finer the line, the better the effect. When I’m making drawings I use the simplest of tools, graphite pencils and good quality paper.
You are a member of ‘The Hermit Collective’ How has that aided your development and promotion as an artist?
The Hermit Collective was started by a friend, the poet Jessamine O’Connor, as a platform for writers, musicians and artists to show and perform their work within the community. It began with a few small events and has grown from strength to strength. I think it’s important for creative people from all disciplines to adopt a DIY approach to getting their work out there, and forming groups and collectives makes it easier.
Your style is very recognisable. The inspiration seems to be the study of organic matter in such minutiae that it becomes abstract and something altogether new. Can you take us through your process?
It’s true that I do refer to natural forms a lot in my work, but what really interests me are the processes and forces behind the ‘making’ and indeed the ‘unmaking’ of those forms. I attempt to visualise these ideas by applying local rules (repetition, accumulation) over a large area in an organic or indeterminate way. This kind of work is tied into my tenuous understanding of Darwinism and quantum physics, evolution and entropy
Which artists or schools of art have inspired your work, and what about them makes you refer back again and again?
At a young age I discovered the work of Hieronymus Bosch in a book of my Dads and it scared the life out of me and fascinated me at once. Soon after that it was the engravings of Albrecht Drurer, and then Rembrandt. These artists have stayed with me over the years and I still look at them. They represent a certain sensibility or approach to art making that may still be found in the art world today, but it gets harder to pinpoint amongst the noise.. So I’ve found myself returning to the source.
You studied at Sligo IT. What was the experience like and did you forge any strong links with fellow
I would recommend the college experience to anyone who is serious about making art on a full time or regular basis. With the right approach it can help you form good working habits. I was lucky in that I was among a group of diverse artists who formed a supportive bond. Afterwards I joined with fellow graduates Matthew Tucker, Paul Cabena and Marta Slawinska, to organize our own show, In Isolation at Broadstone Studios Dublin, and that got the ball rolling. I’m currently working with Paul on a project photographing the night sky.
What are your feelings on the promotion of the artist and how this has changed in modern times.
There is no doubt that the onus is on the emerging artist to promote their own work and find ways to show it, The Galleries can only do so much and they are inundated with submissions. With so many artists out there, the challenge, more than ever is to make work which stands out.
Are there other activities you employ which feed your discipline?
I live in a remote rural setting so I like to be outside in the elements a lot, walking, cycling and canoeing. I’m a keen gardener, a stone mason and an amateur astronomer. All these things feed themselves into my artwork in one way or another.
Talk us through a typical day in the studio.
I like to have a few different things on the go at the same time to avoid getting stuck at any point. Usually I will spend some time adding to a large scale ‘long term’ drawing as a way of getting into the studio environment. I will also work on plates which will be taken elsewhere to be etched and printed later. A lot of time can be spent on documenting and photographing work and on working on submissions for galleries etc. but I try to stay focused when I am in a studio or workshop, as access to these environments can be limited .
Gavin Porter is a Belfast born Artist living in County Roscommon. His artistic output consists of drawing, etching, sound installation and assemblage, with etching being his main medium of choice. He has shown work across Ireland and in the UK.
His new exhibition, praesens Recent Graphite Work, opens at Custom House Gallery, Westport on 28th of July.
‘’ Forms depicted by Gavin Porter have a clear recurrent structure, but they seem to have no start and no end. They are in a continuous but unpredictable process of development, as if they were never to complete their forming. We can observe the same process in our everyday lives, filled with repetitive tasks performed as part of our daily routines and with efforts of which results can rarely be clearly predicted, our existence is built of patterns but is still full of uncertainty.”
Marta Slawinska, Curator In Isolation 3 emerging Artists at Broadstone Studios, Dublin