Cathy Savels in a nutshell?
I am a Belgian mixed media artist,currently based in South-West France, near Bergerac. I moved to France with my two children in 2002 to create a life where I could paint full time. Initially it was a struggle to make that happen but in August 2004, I was struck by lightning which really focussed my mind on what was important to me.
I grew up in Knokke, Belgium with parents that were very creative in a number of ways. My father is an eboniste and my mother an haute-couture seamstress and it is then that I learned a lot of skills using a variety of materials.
Your artistic singularity: what are the major themes you pursue in your work?
At first, I painted anything and everything and did not have a clear focus on the subject matter. I met an art teacher who looked at my work and he asked me ‘why do you paint what you paint?’. I was unable to answer him and for several months I did not paint but gave this question much thought. During this time I visited an exhibition by Eva Hesse in Vienna, Austria. She died young but in the latter stages of her life, she used a variety of materials in her installations such as string, metal, fabric etc. It was then that I had my lightbulb moment, why not incorporate all of my skills by using different materials in my artworks.
Your encounter with art: how did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it?
I trainedas an interior designer in the UK so my work is often described as ‘decorative’. It comes naturally to me to want to paint something which is beautiful. I also like to play with optical illusions so I will incorporate string, for example, so that when the artwork is viewed from a distance, it appears to be a ‘flat’ painting and people discover the texture when they approach. I love that reaction.
Which techniques do you use?
Most of the techniquesI use are my own discovered by trial and error. I am, for the most part, self-taught but at the same time, this has given me the freedom to try everything and anything. Some were successful, some not so much so but even then, you learn so much from those mistakes.
I am still discovering new materials and new ways to work and it is this that excites me. When I look at a flower, I think about how I can best represent the textures, how the flower is ‘constructed’ and how I can copy nature to create something beautiful.
More about Cathy Savels:http://cathysavels.com