Henry Martin: What is inspiration? How do you find it?
Tessa Houghton: Homeland is inspired by views across the Lancashire countryside where I grew up. There is so much inherent symbolism in natural landscapes and I think that’s what drives my work. I also like to work in a gestural and expansive way and landscapes are very suited to this.
I started painting seascapes when I moved to Barcelona in 2000. Although the paintings were inspired by real places, the images were for the most part imagined and evocative of journeys and pathways with unknown destinations and blurred horizons.
When I moved back to the UK and after experiencing a couple of significant life events, I went through a period of being quite reflective and my work shifted to explore real places that had strong personal significance and strong emotional attachments. The focus became more about where I came from rather than where I was going.
Ever since I can remember I have always scribbled, sketched and painted. I went on to study Fine Art at Liverpool John Moores University and after completing my degree moved back to Lancashire for a short time. In 2000 I moved to Barcelona and began to paint the sea.
I would describe my work as semi abstract and mainly focused on natural landscapes. I work in oils and mixed media on canvas. My inspiration is taken from the places I’ve spent the most time; the Catalonian coast, Pyrenees mountains and the dramatic and beautiful countryside of northern England.
I try to capture and translate a mood within my work based on limitless horizons and the ethereal qualities of light affecting landscapes and seascapes. I believe in the power of suggestion and my paintings tend to hover between abstraction and figuration. The resulting images are ambiguous rather than definitive. I like the idea that they will trigger a memory or a sensation by being recognisable or familiar in some way and the final interpretation is left open to the viewer. I like to play with and distort perspectives so that in one moment you may feel you are soaring above the landscape yet at others you feel you are able to walk right into it. Each painting offers a different perspective and possibility; sometimes dramatic, other times hazy and subdued. The viewer is invited to respond and react to them individually.
Paint and other mediums are applied in a variety of methods so that intense layers of texture contrast with areas of smooth subtlety. Whilst light and depth are key components, colour and form are simplified to capture the true essence of the subject matter.
Title. Homeland. Date. 2017. Media: Oil on panel. Dimensions. 36 x 36 cm. Credit. Tessa Houghton.