The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, designers and the like.
In times of economic hardship the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are the most important aspect of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society.
To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.
And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?
This week, I’m delighted to welcome Bristol based artist, Christelle Jones.
What’s your greatest personal achievement?
It hasn’t happened yet. At least, I hope it hasn’t happened. I want something to look forward to.
What’s your greatest career achievement?
Enjoying my work. When I started art school, I stopped dreading Monday mornings.
What’s been your greatest sacrifice?
I’m too selfish to make big sacrifices. However, I once sold a couple of Beastie Boys tickets, because something had cropped up at work. That wasn’t a sacrifice, though. That was just stupid.
To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?
My parents. I had a great childhood, spent most of it outdoors, stayed up well past my bedtime and I’ve never been in any hurry to grow up.
Also, there are several inspirational Art and English teachers who I wanted to impress.
Who inspires you?
Artists, writers, photographers, directors, musicians, poets, sportspeople, scientists, engineers, intellectuals and comedians. Off the top of my head: Goya, Lucian Freud, Diane Arbus, Carol Ann Duffy, Peter Doig, Peter Cook, Francis Bacon, Paula Rego, Roddy Doyle, Roald Dahl, Bill Hicks, Grayson Perry, Rachel Whiteread, Mark Rothko, Steve Martin, Anish Kapoor, Tim Berners-Lee, Dave Allen, Stanley Kubrick, Leonardo Da Vinci, Ralph Steadman, David Pattern (my art teacher) Annie Leibovitz, Simon Armitage, Bill Cunningham, Bradley Wiggins, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Mozart, Anthony Gormley, David Eggers, Jon Ronson, Jessica Ennis, Nick Cave, David Byrne, Don McCullin, Andy Goldsworthy, Edward Hopper, I.K. Brunel, Richard Avedon and on and on.
What inspires you?
Workaholics. High achievers. Daft optimists. People who never give up or give in. Google.
What was the last thing that inspired you?
Driving through Wiltshire on an autumn afternoon. The low sun had lit up a field full of hay bales, so there was this patch of bright cadmium yellow set against a huge, dark storm cloud.
What makes you unhappy?
The News. I don’t know what to believe anymore, especially after reading ‘Flat Earth News’ by Nick Davis – an excellent, but scary book.
What are you reading?
I’ve just finished reading Jon Ronson’s Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness.
Who, or what, are you listening to?
At the moment, as I’m writing, it’s the gas boiler. The TV, internet and radio are switched off. When I’m painting though, I listen to 6 Music.
What’s your favourite film?
Withnail & I. I can quote that film from start to finish. It’s a master class in swearing.
What frightens you?
vigilantcitizen.com and things that make you go ‘hmm.’
What can’t you live without?
Friends, family, laughter and my camera.
What’s your motto?
I saw a great quote in a South Wales sports centre. It said: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
If you only had one year to live what would you do?
I’d sort out all the boring admin and hire a skip to save friends and relatives the hassle. I’d also like to make a video of myself hiding under a sheet, pretending to be a ghost, that would be played at my funeral to ‘lighten things up a bit’. After that, I’d probably live each day as if it was my last, move to the seaside and eat a lot of great food.
Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?
I can think of several politicians. Guy Fawkes had the right idea.
Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?
What are you working on at the moment?
3 large canvasses, (I’m still at the sketchbook stage at the moment), and running an after-school art club.
Which six people would you invite to your boating party?
Peter Cook, Grayson Perry, Bill Hicks, Mae West, The Dalai Lama and Dame Ellen MacArthur (well somebody needs to steer the boat).
What question would you have liked me to have asked?
“Do you need a bigger boat?”
Thank you, Christelle.
With my recent work, there is an element of unpredictability. I start out with a rough idea, but I never really know what direction the painting will take. Often the painting takes on a life of its own. The trick is knowing when to stop. The loft is full of paintings either under or overworked, that look terrible, or even worse – look OK. It’s so frustrating, but when a painting goes right, it’s the best feeling in the world.