ARTIST Q&A: JO TAYLOR

Published: 9 October 2019


With a highly anticipated solo exhibition coming up this November, mixed media artist Jo Taylor discusses her practice with Thompson's Gallery in an exclusive interview for the 'Artist Q&A' series. 

Above: Debuting in Jo Taylor's November 2019 solo exhibition, 'Running Wild' - Mixed media on paper 33x59 inches £7500 - ENQUIRE/BUY NOW

Thompson's Gallery: Do you have any studio rituals or superstitions?

Jo Taylor: I don't really have any superstitions but I guess that each day turns into a ritual. An ideal day starts early by walking the dog followed by exercising the horse. Both are ex-racers and beautiful models. I am very attracted to beasts with their anatomy right on show so the greyhound and the Thoroughbred are the perfect inspiration. By walking and riding, I also get a good dose of wild Northern weather before I start work which I try to turn into a positive but sometimes it's just a bit much. At work, Bubble my greyhound has the best seat in the studio - well actually, it's a sofa! I always stand up to work as I am constantly marching backwards and forwards in an attempt to keep the energy, throwing materials at
the paper and letting things develop on their own. I always have several pieces on the go as it is so easy to wreck a good start by overworking it. I have no windows my studio as it would be too distracting ( I'd be watching the crows all the time) but I do have huge skylights over my easel so that keeps me focused. Music is a big part of studio life - Underworld, Chemical Brothers, Captain Beefheart, The Fall, Nick Cave, Sleaford Mods - all cheerful stuff!

Above: Jo Taylor on site for sketching and studying in Exmoor. Image courtesy of artist.

Thompson's Gallery: Does your process have any established pattern, ie sketching beforehand or resisting pattern in total?

Jo Taylor: My work starts outside and always has done. The origin of each piece stems from being amongst beautiful beasts (usually horses) in an inspiring place. Usually the weather is involved . I love my time in wild places, on the gallops and at studs in amazing locations throughout the UK, Ireland and America. I feel immensely privileged to have had access to some of the best Thoroughbreds in the world. In an attempt to keep the moment, I will retreat indoors to produce low pressure watercolour sketches and drawings which I use as a starting point for the bigger pieces. I also love fable and folk stories which can be threaded into the final piece once the imagination has taken over.

Thompson's Gallery: Do you ever experience 'painter's block'? How do you overcome it?

Jo Taylor: Oh yes! I think that the only way to get out of it is to draw and draw and draw. I often look back at work that was done in these times and realise that there was a train of thought there for future pieces. I also think about what my tutor John Ross once said when he visited the studio - "Jo Taylor! Stop painting these f^^^^^^g pretty horses". That usually galvanises me into action.

Thompson's Gallery: What has been your favorite subject to paint in the past year?

Jo Taylor: My dear Thoroughbred, Johnny. We have many adventures in my paintings.

Above: Debuting in Jo Taylor's November 2019 exhibition 'Running Wild' at Thompson's London - 'Moonlight Ride' Mixed media on paper 33x59 inches £7500 - ENQUIRE/BUY NOW

Thompson's Gallery: Your upcoming solo exhibition in November is titled 'Running Wild'. Tell us more. Have you traveled to any exciting locations to study and sketch for this show?

Jo Taylor: I have spent significant time amongst the hardy wild ponies of Exmoor in the West Country and Connemara in Co Galway in the west of Ireland (there is something about looking west with the land on my back). It is always wonderful to see these ponies in their natural habitat - watching how they live as a herd and to observe their instinctive behaviour. It was whilst amongst the ponies that I found the title of my exhibition - Running Wild. Whilst watching the herds in some breathtaking landscapes of the UK and Ireland, I also encountered running herds of deer and magnificent birds of prey so they have made an appearance too. Landscape and being on the land is a huge influence. Through years of walking and riding ; experiencing the wilderness and freedom of these places, the landscape is now central to some of the work. Oh, and after years of getting blown about in all weathers watching my subject, the weather makes an appearance now too. Further drawing trips in preparation for the show have taken me back to the beach racing at Carrowniskey and Omey along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland. It is an intoxicating mix of man, horse and the land with some wild riding thrown in in The Land of Horse.

Above: Jo Taylor's greyhound rescue Finbar, watching over the studio as the artist works.

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Register interest today for Jo's exhibition, titled 'Running Wild'  - opens 20th November 2019 at Thompson's Gallery London (3 Seymour Place W1H5AZ). Email enquiries@thompsonsgallery.co.uk or phone +44(0)207 935 3595.