Interview with artist Sally Coulden

Artist, Sally Coulden, is currently featuring her work in an exclusive exhibition, Nicholas Anthony x Sally Coulden at our Mayfair studio.

Sally’s expansive career has been a key influence in her creative development as an independent abstract artist, whose work includes paintings inspired by uninhibited natural landscapes. Here, she explains what her work is about and her perspective on how art intersects with home life.

What is your background?

I’m on my eleventh career change, having originally trained as a nurse and then a midwife where I delivered over 400 babies. I have travelled extensively throughout my career and lived in Australia for 8 years. Among the many jobs I had there I helped set up a delivery suite, did a ski season, helped build a clinical research unit where I studied sexology, specialising in female menopause and male impotence. On my return to the UK I worked as a Clinical Scientist in the International division of SmithKline Beecham and then GlaxoSmithKline. Having worked across Tropical Medicines, completing an MBA and working for the R&D Board on special projects I was headhunted by PwC, which was to be my final role in the corporate world, where I worked Internationally as a Senior Consultant for eight years in the advisory sector.

In 2014 I resigned from Corporate life and took myself off to art school to study fine art – I had painted all my life, but this was a chance to immerse myself in creativity and turn it into a new career. Following art school I worked full time as an apprentice to a professional abstract painter to learn the nitty gritty of painting before setting up my own studio in Bristol. I like to exhibit regularly, including solo shows in St. Ives annually and my work is held in a number of National and International Collections. I am very passionate about bringing art into living spaces. I think incorporating art into the home is a fantastic way of making it a living, breathing, functional part of our lives.

What is your artistic inspiration?

I’m an abstract landscape painter and my work is very much about non-containment and expansiveness. I grew up in Norfolk where there are massive skies and big horizons – for me having physical and psychological space is important and is reflected in the way I live. I’m all about ‘framing infinity’, it’s about letting things breathe and not suffocating them. I choose not to frame many of my paintings for this reason, to let them breathe.

The images I paint are often derived from places I’ve been – it’s about capturing the feeling of it and absorbing the essence of the environment. I row, sail, walk and travel quite a bit – so you will often find me sketching or taking photographs while I’m out and then I head back to the studio to capture the essence of my experience in that particular space.

What role do you think art has to play in the home?

I think the role of art in the home is massive because it’s all about the emotional responses one experiences with artwork you can see. Colour can really impact our mood and our energy levels – we see that in the choices people make when it comes to paint colours.

For me, it’s really important to bring art into living spaces – canvas, perspex, glass – I’m passionate about breaking down the barriers between people and abstract art. I developed an Augmented Reality (AR) app-based performance piece called ‘ABSTRACTED’ a few years ago, where participants are introduced to the processes and performance involved in making an abstract painting. I appear as an avatar on the AR – I was filmed for 10 hours painting, which was condensed into a 5 minute experience where you can walk-into/around the painting and watch me paint it, worth a look.

I believe sometimes galleries can be quite intimidating but having art in your own living spaces is where you can really engage with it and it is this that underpins the philosophy behind my red dog logo. The story that sits behind it is about the importance of home. When people historically lived in caves, they lived in one large room and you could often see wall paintings depicting hunting scenes with lots of dogs painted with red oxide pigments from the earth on the cave walls. We modernised an original cave painting for my logo/brand because for me, we are all about creating extraordinary spaces and making art accessible. That’s my mission.

What do you think is the purpose of art?

I think it’s to inspire, it’s about feeling, it’s about emotion and it’s not necessarily having to understand what you are looking at but appreciate it for what you get from it. It doesn’t matter if your understanding of a painting is the same as someone else’s – if it makes you feel great then that’s the job done. Often I like to keep my inspiration to myself and allow people to visualise their own interpretation of my paintings for themselves. It’s about experience and freeing the mind.

Which other artists do you admire?

Loads! I love the work of Barbara Rae, James Turrell who is a genius with colour and light, Rothko, the expressionist, Robert Motherwell, and the fabulous works of JMW Turner. I absolutely love the brushstrokes and movement that you see in Turner’s work – I held a solo show titled ‘ A Contemporary Twist on Turner’ where I chose some of my favourites of his and built in the Sally contemporary twist! I sold all but one of the paintings!!!

Why did you want to collaborate with Nicholas Anthony?

I love Design Director Niko Rasides’ vision of bringing the six senses together into a living environment. A showroom can often feel slightly remote but Niko’s vision brings the kitchen space to life and creates a total sensory experience. A kitchen is not just a kitchen but part of a whole environment that offers collective inspiration.

With thanks to Sally Coulden for featuring her inspiring works at our Mayfair studio, supported by Miele and Occhio.

Nicholas Anthony x Sally Coulden launched on 17th November and will be open to see for three months.

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