Artist Interview - Sally Gatie

Artist interview between Shannon Skye Robinson and Lois Emma Harkin (Curating Futures Project Coordinator), and Sally Gatie (Curating Futures Artist).

* Warning, mature content- nudity *

Date of Interview: 20th of December 2021

Participants: Shannon Skye Robinson (SSR) and Lois Emma Harkin (LEH) and Sally Gatie (SG)

SSR/LEH: What is your background?

SG: I was born in Hull and have lived most of my life on the Yorkshire coast.

I began my art training when I was 16 with a two-year Art Foundation, then went on to study Graphic Design at Leeds Polytechnic. I learned such a lot on the Foundation course, it gave me an excellent knowledge of the ground rules of art, and it’s where I learned the most about observational drawing. It’s a shame that most art colleges have opted to dismiss the importance of drawing skills. It’s what gave me the most confidence and satisfaction in my work process.

I went on to work in technical drawing offices soon after college, first in Electrical Engineering and then in Architectural. This experience still has an influence on my paintings today. I decided to return to education after my kids were born. When I was 40, I studied Fine Art Painting. I was lucky to find a course that suited me, with excellent lecturers in painting and art history.


SSR/LEH: How did you get into art/ creativity?

SG: I’ve always been drawing from a very young age, and it seemed the natural thing to do after my GCSE O levels. I spent a while working in drawing offices but always felt that something was missing, and the opportunity came again to study art, so I jumped at it.

Artwork produced by Sally Gatie


SSR/LEH: What do you get out of producing work?

SG: There’s a lot of problem solving in the way I produce paintings. I suppose that habit came from my drawing office days. I enjoy the challenge of transforming a blank canvas into a piece of art. When I’m engrossed in a piece of work, I have the feeling that everything is alright, nothing can touch me. Nothing may have changed externally, yet the act of painting solves all my problems. I suppose you could say it’s good therapy!

Artwork produced by Sally Gatie


SSR/LEH: How do you want your work to be perceived by an audience?

SG: In 2013 I produced work for a touring exhibition called The White Room. The main aim of the project was to see how I could influence the viewer with my thoughts and feelings. It was an experimental piece and surprised me. My intention was to have positive thoughts throughout the painting process, which would be absorbed by the canvas and paint, and therefore be transmitted to the viewer. However, things backfired when halfway through the painting process, my world fell apart. Three or four life changing events happened, and my thoughts spiraled downwards. I was already committed to the project, so had to continue painting. The result was amazing. Some of the viewers gave me feedback which matched my

thoughts, even though these thoughts were far from positive. There was a mixture of bliss, sadness and loss and turmoil in their feedback which matched exactly the timescale of the works. I consider that I’m not someone who wants to dictate how my work is perceived, I’d rather that came from the viewer. However, The White Room proved to me that the vibrations of the artist are communicated to the viewer through the artwork.

Artwork produced by Sally Gatie


SSR/LEH: Who are your biggest inspirations?

SG: Well, my biggest inspiration are The Beatles, I listen to them a lot of the time I paint, and I sing to them too, which isn’t a pretty sound! Their music automatically lifts me every time, takes me back to a time of innocence. Artistically, I’ve been influenced by many artists; Klimt, Lucien Freud, Xenia Hausner, Botticelli, Euan Uglow to name a few.

Artwork produced by Sally Gatie


SSR/LEH: What are the main concepts or themes you explore within your work?

SG: My paintings are very personal to me, they trace a private view of a woman’s life, of my life, exploring ideas of motherhood, birth and nurturing. Looking back, I can see a pattern throughout my work that explores female emotions through colour, texture and pattern. There is always a spiritual aspect to my work, which if touched on by the viewer I expand on.


SSR/LEH: What is the main thing you have learnt through your creative practice?

SG: The main thing I have learned is not to try to please other people through my work. I can only be true to myself by pleasing one person, myself.


SSR/LEH: Who is your work for? Yourself? A small community? A specific sector of society? Or is it for everyone?

SG: Initially, my work is for myself. I decided at a very early age that if only one other person likes my work, as well as me, then my job as a painter is done. I can only paint things that mean something to me. It may be quite subtle, or it may be obvious, however it must have a deeper meaning for me. The viewer doesn’t always get to see what that is. I feel the pulse of the viewer, and then decide whether to take them into the secrets of the paintings.


SSR/LEH: What is the best piece of advice you could give to another artist, or someone just starting out in the creative sector?

SG: Don’t try to please all the people all the time. And learn to take it on the chin now and again.


SSR/LEH: Why did you decide to join the Curating Futures community?

SG: The opportunity looked intriguing. Exploring the tangible and intangible seems to describe my work perfectly. I thought it would be interesting to develop in some way through contact with other like-minded artists.


You can find Sally Gatie via her Instagram