Celebrating Yorkshire with Richard Gibson
How did you get into art and why?
I started messing around with sculptures when I was really young using clay and, bizarrely, tin foil, to see what I could put together. I spent most of my school years saying that I wanted to be an artist but got put off by everyone saying “don’t do it”. In the winter, I would do a bit of taxidermy and that’d always interested me too. I think that’s what ultimately helped me get back into art, because you have to be quite strict and good at form doing that. I remember seeing a sculpture made from chicken wire and I hadn’t seen anything like that before; it wasn’t really the sculpture that interested me that much, I just really liked how the light reacted with the wire. I started to play around with a bit of wire netting alongside my taxidermy and it went from there.
How has your work changed overtime?
In some ways it’s changed a lot, but the idea probably hasn’t changed that much. Every year that goes by I’m looking to try and polish my work and tidy things up – make them look sharper.
How would you describe your artwork?
I’m just trying to capture a snap of life, I guess. That’s why I’ve always found movement interesting. I want something, for a split second, to look really convincing and believable even though it’s quite a bizarre medium.
How do you create your artwork?
I’ll start off with lots of images. I don’t necessarily always see the 3D version of what I’m creating so I need to process enough images to be able to link those together. I might reduce those images down to two or three, then I’ll sketch a line of best fit that has an aspect of those images that I like. Once I’m happy, I’ll do a full-sized drawing from a side profile, exactly how I know I want it to look, to work out the frame and dimensions. I build up layers from there. I suppose the tricky bit is getting a fairly accurate first layer because you don’t have much guidance to go on, but that makes the rest of the piece far easier and means you don’t have to adjust everything.
Your favourite pieces of art created by you and why?
One of my absolute favourites (although it’s easy to look past them because I’ve made a lot of them) is my barn owls. I’ve been lucky that I’ve always lived in areas where there have been local barn owls and I’ve had the privilege of being able to watch them. I find them more hypnotising than any other bird and they’ve always captivated me. I like the challenge of trying to portray that interest and that’s been an ongoing obsession since I started. I’m really happy with my owls now but I’m always looking to add little adjustments. At the same time, I’ve been lucky enough to make a few horses over the years and they’re an exciting piece to do. One of my all-time favourite commissions was of a horse I made in autumn last year. The people who commissioned me to make that gave me quite a bit of freedom with it which was lovely, so it was really nice to get some of my ideas across too. It was great to get my teeth stuck into something I would have loved to have designed and made for myself.
What do you love most about Yorkshire?
I’m really lucky that I live in Thixendale. Pretty much half of it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and I just think there are some really beautiful pockets in Yorkshire where there’s lots of natural grassland and valleys. I’ve always lived in that hilly, wild, stereotypical Yorkshire – it’s a nice place of contrast but I have grown up here, so I guess there’s nostalgia in it too.
Another Yorkshire artist our readers will love?
One of my favourite Yorkshire artists was a guy who lived in the village, Julian Swift. I found his work fascinating. He did a sequence of pieces called The Straw People which was a play on typical human failures and aspirations. Another artist I really like is Name and Colour, Lucy Jean Green who creates a mixture of paper craft, sculpture and automata animation.
What’s next for you?
Movement really interests me but it’s something I feel like I can explore a lot further. I feel like I’ve only really scratched the surface of what’s possible and what direction I can go in.