Artist Series - Gilfling

I have been visiting with Gilfling for over a year now. We met when a thread was posted regarding mentors and matching shop owners who could provide some moral support to one another. Boy did I need it then and Gilfling was a great sounding board. Another plus was that I fell in love with her work and purchased not only some of her cuffs, but also some artwork. Her customer service is exceptional. I'm glad that I met you Gilfling and send you best wishes for continued success.

1. When did you become interested in art and did you choose art, or did it choose you?

I wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember (in-between periods of dreaming of growing up to be a paleontologist, archaeologist, and dancer) and was constantly creating, whether in the form of artwork, writing or poetry. However, by the time I hit my late teens (and ‘art college application time’!) I had run out of steam a little and turned in a rather pitiful portfolio. A break of many years in which I pursued varying careers including being a nanny, swimming teacher and learning disabilities nurse, eventually, in a round-about-way led to art choosing me and I have never lost my feeling of gratitude at the amazing way my life has been turned around because of it.

After suffering a serious back condition, I had a long period of inactivity. This consequently led me to take a few art classes and eventually I had the chance to study performance costume at university. Now I manage to combine teaching, costume and my own artistic creations in a rather haphazard but ultimately satisfying way! When not teaching, I am painting, sketching, designing, felt making, playing with fabrics and textiles, making accessories, thinking of all the things I want to make and procrastinating about which idea to tackle first. One thing I can say about myself is that I am never, ever bored!

2. You get to spend one weekend each with three historical figures, an artist, a writer and one of your choice. Who are they and what will you talk about or do?

Oh gosh – how to cut it down to just three! If I were able to spend time with any artist, it would have to be Leonard Baskin. A sculptor, illustrator, writer and printer he also took on important commissions such as the Holocaust Memorial. His work just moves me, the expressions in his portraits and the beautiful detail in his etchings. I would ask him to teach me printmaking and perhaps we would just sit and talk of his inspirations, but most of all I would just like to see his work in real life and lose myself in the details and characters of his work.

I have a permanent collection of Angela Carter books by my bedside and read them often. The short stories, her fairy tale collections and her novels and I just get lost in the descriptions and tales, which I can visualize so clearly in my mind. Her work is a great influence on my art, the richness of detail and the darkness and melancholy that to me is present. I would love her to read her stories to me by a log fire so that I could sit, sketch, paint, and imagine I was lost in the worlds of her characters so that they unfolded on the paper as I was working.

During my costume degree, I discovered the collections of Henry Wellcome. Whilst working on a project in which I became fascinated with cabinets of curiosities and historical medicine I found a book called ‘The forgotten Museum of Henry Wellcome’. This man traveled the world, and attained a vast collection, which represented art, science, anthropology, and the history of medicine. With items from all over the world and from many different centuries, it is a fascinating collection. During his lifetime (1853-1936) he must have experienced and seen incredible things and his work is a real inspiration to me. Of course I would want to travel with him and visit many different cultures, learning, sketching and dreaming of the things I could create from that inspiration.

3. Do any of these choices influence your work? and why?

Each of these characters inspires me in the work I do and I think my own personal aesthetic reflects that very strongly. Layers, memories, character, sadness, the strange and unusual, storytelling and anthropology all inspire me. There are so many layers and hidden and subtle meanings in my own work and this has developed form my own eclectic interests. One thing that I am always reminding myself when I feel the days are too short and there are never enough hours – is that my days are as long/short as those of Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, and all the other artists and creators I admire. They too only had those precious 24 hours in a day and look what they achieved! That is very humbling and stops me in my tracks when I (all to frequently) utter the phrase “there are never enough hours in the day to do all the things I wish to do…..”

4. How has the popularity of the internet affected your work?

The internet has been invaluable to me. When in late 2006 I first tentatively put a few handmade, crocheted items up for sale in my etsy shop, I could never have dreamed of the impact it would have on my work and on my life. Even then, it took me an age to have the confidence to put my artwork out there. Always lacking in confidence, I cannot imagine I could ever have approached a gallery or boutique owner face to face and offered up my work for their inspection. The internet gave me the ‘distance’ that I needed. My work is there, for all to see and people can have an honest reaction to it and respond to it only if they so wish.

Of course I am buoyed and elated by the reactions that I have received. When someone ‘connects’ to me through a
piece that is incredibly important to me in that it is a complete reflection of who I am, well there is nothing to match that emotion. Of course, I have now realized that the ‘distance’ that I at first thought the internet afforded me, is in reality non-existent. Rather the internet has ‘connected’ me to like minded souls and for that I will forever be grateful.

5. Have you discovered any new technique to creating your work that you can share?

I recently discovered the joys and unpredictability of gluing and then removing background papers to my painting surface. I love the way the paper tears and leaves ghostly hints of an image or text, which I then draw, paint and glaze over to create the aged and damaged surfaces that I love. Free machine stitching with my beloved gold thread is another frequent addition to my paintings, as well as accessories, again creating texture, which is an important feature of my work. I have recently been teaching felt making in my workshops and have rediscovered my love for creating texture and color with fibers. I am currently working on a range of accessories that combine this beautiful textile with my usual materials of lace and machine and hand embroidery.

6. How do you overcome artist block?

I have to admit that at times it is a real struggle for me and can hit me like a wave. But I am always ‘creating’ in some form. When I am struggling with painting, I get the sewing machine out. When the ideas are stuck in the recesses of my mind, I crochet or knit. When I cannot ‘visualize’ or see what I want to create, I write – endless pages of automatic writing. Even if at first I am writing about the fact that I do not want to do the housework, or what we need from the shops, it always turns into pages and pages of my own inner dreams, thoughts and struggles. I love to play with words and I love how the very action of writing can release me from the fogginess that can smother my ideas. Inevitably, these meanderings become ideas for paintings and other work. Yet again, I am never, ever bored!

7. If I walked into your studio this moment what would you show me first? What would you want to hide?

I think I would be excited to show you the layers and textures of my work. I feel that is something I can never truly convey in the photographs or even the prints of my work. I love working with layers and building up subtle tones and depth and I would love for you to see that. Also I would show off my inspiration boards! Both my loft space and painting studio are crowded with images, photographs, bits, and pieces that constantly inspire me. As far as the thing I would hide – oh dear, I have to admit to eating far too many biscuits and drinking far too many cups of earl grey tea when working. But perhaps rather than hiding them, I would just ask you to join me!

8. Describe something that comes up in your work because of a life experience.

I am constantly inspired by the theme of ‘memory’. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that my own is so atrocious! I am terrified of not being able to remember not only the important and big events of my life, but also the subtle details of the emotions I felt at a particular time, or the way I was inspired by something beautiful or sad or thought provoking. Costume and the age and details of garments feature strongly in my work too. Clothes and costume to me are not just something we wear, but they are an extension of our own character. When I paint garments, I am not only thinking of the fabric or the color, but also the stories and experiences which would be stitched into the hems, the times that have past and our own memories. It is strange but it often seems as if the strongest memories I have, are not of my own childhood or years gone past, but the memories that could have been stored from before my own lifetime – and I think that is what I want others to see in my work.

9. Describe what you do, or who you are in a haiku.

Oh dear – this is my first ever haiku – (I know they are not necessarily about ‘thoughts’ so I have cheated a bit!)

Memory whispers,
Ancient thoughts torn and threadbare
Forever I dream

10. Is there anything else that you would like to share?

I think just that, for me following the ‘wrong’ path was not necessarily a mistake, rather a matter of timing. Ultimately, the opportunity to follow your dream can come a calling. It is just recognizing it when it happens!

Also just to thank you Rose for your valuable support and encouragement – It really is the friends I have met through blogging and the internet that have provided me with the inspiration to follow this path!

16 reviews:

Ka Nani Essentials said...

What a Gift!!! I like that you post about others! Thanks for stopping by my humble abode :D

Here's to continued success!

AuntDsHandcrafts said...

This is a great tribute to your mentor :)

Rosebud Collection said...

What a nice blog and interview..You did a great job.

Distressing Delilah said...

Stunning love!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Rose again for this opportunity! I love the images you have used.

ElegantSnobbery said...

Oh my goodness, what a fabulous feature interview for such a talented artist! What a wonderful mentor to have!!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing talent and great interview!
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ClinkscalesArts said...

What a wonderful interview. I own a piece of Gilfling's art and I love it!

feefifoto said...

Your work is delicate and lovely.

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. I posted an answer to your question but in case you don't catch it, here it is:

Not just bossy -- Bossy! Bossy is in the top three of the awesomest bloggers in the blogosphere, and the other two escape me for the moment. I could sing her praises but I don't think I could do her justice. Click the link in my post, visit with her for a while, and then see if you don't wish for her to post three times a day, as I do.

Jen said...

what a great post! i love learning about new artists like this. said...

I love her!! She was one of my first friends I ever made whenI started blogging. She is a very special soul!!!! I am so glad you had a lovely experience with sweet Gillian!!

TotusMel said...

Really gorgeous work,nice interview too.

BabyLyons said...

All I can say is: wow!

Julia said...

Oh! To have such a mentor, I'm so glad you've found each other :) And thank you so much for introducing her to US! WOW! I'm enthralled with her whimsical works, they are so soft and Chagal-like! So beautiful!

Jennifer Robin said...

Gilfling's art is breathtaking! Thanks for featuring her!

Anonymous said...

I love her work too. You've produced an extraordinarily beautiful post with some really thought-provoking questions. It's made me think about my own work more deeply - thank you for sharing this.

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