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KERRY SPOKES DIGITAL ARTIST

Kerry Spokes, Fish Creek, Victoria, Australia

Kerry Spokes, Fish Creek, Victoria, Australia

Kerry Spokes was trained as a print maker and painter. Using these skills, she has developed a new and exciting photographic genre. Using only apps on her iPhone and iPad Kerry Spokes creates amazing digital collages.

Zoneone Arts is delighted to bring Kerry Spokes to you…

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Explain your involvement with mobile photography both the limitations and advantages it has given your art?

Four years ago I bought my first iphone, since then I have concentrated on using mobile devices to create imagery (iphone, ipad and apps), striving to extend the boundaries of what is possible with digital collage using photographs and apps on my ipad only.

I like to print some of my iphone work on a large scale and with the limitations of camera quality in a mobile device I have explored the use of photo and art apps to overlay filters, enhance some areas, etc to ‘mask’ over those limitations of photographic print quality, thus creating a more ‘painterly effect often.

The digital medium has become a useful tool for developing and recording ideas and concepts I want to portray, and in turn is informing my latest drawing and print works. This has been a huge advantage in my processing and recording of ideas into visual images in a quicker timeframe than my current lifestyle would otherwise permit.

‘Flotsam & Jetsam’

Please discuss the techniques you have used.

There are a number of apps and techniques used to create my digital collage like the Domestic Bliss series. I usually lay down a background in an app called Superimpose, often overlaying a few to achieve a base or if I want a room with walls and floor as a background or perhaps a landscape I have taken an image of.

I take many photos of objects, animals, flowers etc, then mask around them to delete the background around these items, save them to a mask library enabling me to use them in any number of ways in compositions. I also look for imagery on the internet that is free to use; images of particular objects etc. I may not have to hand.

Apps which specialise in applying layers of texture and/or colour along with enhancement tools are usually employed throughout this process of merging objects to build up an image.

Flock

Please discuss the importance of colour in your work

My printmaking and drawing art practice has largely been based around black and white, so I have thoroughly enjoyed introducing colour to my digital works. In fact, I have hardly touched black and white as a genre of iphoneography. Colour is an all important aspect of my digital work, often altering the light, introducing shadows, higher concentrations of contrast and colour saturation, with a focus on the relationship of colours and the visual ascetics of colours working together.

Where do you get your inspiration?

The Domestic Bliss series is inspired by the idea of creating a suite of images which depict domesticity in a humorous and contemporary way, and of also using the huge number of collected items I have (often picked up enmasse in secondhand shops) and putting them to good use. I guess its a justification for being a bit of a hoarder of interesting objects, homewares, machinery, books etc etc….

‘Cooking Up a Storm’

Can you comment on your work ‘Pass the Salt’?

This work is one of a suite of images I am working on based on objects in a landscape. This body of work will be reproduced as photogravure prints for an exhibition in late 2015.

I have used a local scene of Tarwin River and introduced a domestic scene reference of stirring a large pot of soup, so to speak. It could also be interpreted as a reference to the conservation of our waterways. I often like to have an element of social comment coming through my images, however subtle or not.

‘Pass The Salt’

As we get closer to Christmas can you expand on ‘Xmas Pudding Paddock’?

I have been making a line of Christmas cards for many years with a comical and distinctly Australian bent. Prior to my digital iphone works, small drawings and paintings were reproduced onto cards for sale. I have a bit of a thing about the commercialisation of Christmas, finding it rather obscene and out of control. I like to take a subtle dig at this in my Christmas cards.

‘Xmas Pudding Paddock’, one of 8 new designs I have released commercially this year making up a group of 12 Christmas themed cards, is based on the idea of large round hay bales sitting in paddocks ready for collection and storage. This farming activity occurs in Australia where I live, at Christmas time. Using a Christmas pudding instead of a hay bale was an obvious choice really.

http://www.kerryspokes.com.au/#!xmas-cards/c19b8

Can you explain the term Digitally Modified in relationship to photography?

I use the term ‘digitally modified’ at times rather than the term ‘iphoneography’ which is often used in American mobile photography circles.

‘ Digitally modified’ in terms of my art and in relation to photography, means photographs which have been altered in any way using filters and overlays of texture, colour, pattern and objects etc. What is termed ‘photography’ encompasses such a broad and diverse array of image making, and has merged with contemporary printmaking practices quite successfully, making for exciting times in the digital arena of art making.

‘Cry Baby’

You enter many exhibitions, can you discuss why you see this as such an important aspect of your art practice?

My art practice had a pretty big interruption when I was bringing up three children over a number of years. Exhibitions in my local area were a way of getting my small output of artwork shown without having to worry about producing a complete exhibition of works.

I still enter a number of local art shows, with the belief that contemporary art has a place in country art shows and opens up diversity of styles to the general public.

I have noticed a shift with country art shows to using more contemporary judges with sound credentials, and feel that it is important to encourage contemporary artists to be more involved in this important aspect of cultural and artistic identity.

I enter a number of selected and/or prize winning exhibitions, both nationally and internationally based on mobile photography. I have had a couple of iphone works selected for showcase exhibitions in Melbourne and Canada as part of the Mobile Photography Awards as well as a few highly commended pieces in the 2013 MPA Awards.

For me at this stage in my career as an artist using digital iphone imagery, it’s important to get my work shown on the international stage. The mobile photography movement in Australia is still in a fledgling stage I think, and I initially connected into the iphoneography scene through an American based iphone art based site called iphoneart.com where I ‘met’ many creatives also discovering the potential of iphone apps for creating artworks based on their photographs. There are a number of mobile photography competitions and exhibition opportunities in various countries worldwide, it’s just a matter of deciding which ones to pay to upload images to with the hope that they are selected for consideration of either an exhibition or prize.

‘Late Afternoon at O’Grandys Ridge’

What are your thoughts on the importance of an artist taking up the latest technologies available and why you have embraced them?

My art practice is partly informed by the exploration of medium and technique, and mobile digital art is another ‘tool’ I am exploring in my art making. The latest technologies used in art making sit side by side other more process driven art forms and for me create an exciting mix that doesn’t necessarily lock one into a particular genre of art making.

‘What Makes a Smart Meter Man’

Your original training was in printmaking and painting. How has and does this help you in your current practice?

I was always fascinated with drawing and from an early age I practised hour after hour teaching myself how to draw from looking at life, images in books and my imagination.

Form, light sources, image placement, colour relationships and a narrative are all components I employ in my printmaking, drawing and painting, and carry through into my current digital work. The more labour intensive and process driven mediums of printmaking, drawing and painting are integral to my overall art practice, whilst the more immediate digital works can be created in just about any situation – an extremely mobile art form!

‘Tarwin River 11’

How do you use commercially available apps in your work?

I use commercially available apps in my digital work to build my digital collages from a base photograph I have taken or a background from an app I have downloaded. I also use apps for particular editing tools such as shape of images, filters, basic enhancements, and with the collage works, digital masks I cut from images.

I usually know the size I intend to print the images, so once I have completed an image I upload them to Photoshop on my laptop and resize them for print.

‘Summer Grass on O’Gradys Ridge’

Can you comment of the importance of printing on Digital Rag paper?

The archival properties of the digital rag papers are of importance for artists who sell their works. I treat my digital work as I would my printmaking works, editions of a smallish size, all printed to a particular size on a particular paper.

Often my images are intended to look somewhat like paintings, and the rag paper I use mostly, Moab Entrada Smooth 290gsm has a beautiful, almost smooth suede feel to it, picking up the colours of the ink in a lovely intense way. It suits a lot much of my work, although I also use a metallic finish paper for some – Slickrock by Moab Entrada.

My works are printed on a large format Epson inkjet printer with pigment based archival inks.

You also teach. Can you tell us a bit more about your classes?

I have a studio at the end of the property of Gecko Studio Gallery, set up with 2 etching presses, and where we have had a vibrant workshop schedule with guest tutors, and myself giving workshops in printmaking techniques.

I have recently begun iphoneography workshops after many enquiries from people asking for them to be made available. I guide participants through learning how to use apps for a variety of different effects.

In the future the workshops will be geared towards learning about specific apps for particular effects. There are camera apps, editing apps, apps with special effects you can apply, art apps giving painting, drawing, pens etc tools, and of course the ‘collage’ apps

At the end of a workshop, participants go home with a whole new array of creative tools to employ in their art making if they choose to, and will have created at least one image which I print for them on photo quality paper.

‘Unnatural Selection’

You are the co-owner of Gecko Studio Gallery in rural Victoria, how do you balance your art practice and the Gallery commitments?

It’s a constant desire of mine to have more time for my art practice, and I am gradually working towards this each year, allowing myself time to fit in my art around my commitments with the gallery as well as community arts which I am involved in to a degree.

Over the eight years we have been operating come January 2015 as a small contemporary art gallery, picture framing and artist supplies business, we have steadily grown busier in all areas.

We host monthly exhibitions of contemporary art by local or national artists. Our framing is of a high quality and we employ a gun framer who we never want to retire. I used to be the framer for Gecko, but have found I am needed in the gallery daily for quotes, computer design work, art material orders etc.

We also operate a small boutique accommodation called the ArtHouse, behind Gecko, and is becoming busier as people discover the town of Fish Creek whilst looking for an artistic cultural experience as well as the amazing lush landscape and coastline of which Wilsons Promontory National Park is a part of.

I feel extremely fortunate to be in the position I am today with a business based around art and my own art practice gaining momentum as I put more time and energy into creating. To have access to an array of art materials, processes and techniques through workshops, along with meeting many interesting artists and lovers of art through the gallery, is a very rewarding way to live one’s life.

‘Rapt 1’

 

Contact details.

Kerry Spokes

15 Falls Road Fish Creek

Ph: 0423 721 593

E: kerryspokes15@gmail.com

W: kerryspokes.com.au

 

Kerry Spokes, Fish Creek, Victoria, Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, December, 2014

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