Ribble Valley Arts

Q & A

Simon Blackley, fine art, photography

Simon Blackley reignited his creative career with photo modification and blurography in the early part of 2018 the progression into paint started with observations of the landscape and how the field of view was captured within an abstract constraint.  Today his recent work focuses on the human form and largely figures within the urban landscape.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I never really had any great directive in what I wanted to be or do, throughout my early years I did feel I had a path in art albeit with an uncertain outcome.  I eventually started art college and progressed with fine art and life painting which was as far as I could see.

What career path did you take?

Sadly, as with most artists the pressure of living and the expense of being an artist was not feasible so I packed up painting and started a career in Textile Manufacturing as a junior textile designer.  I did see this as stepping stone to further my education in art and had great ambitions to study an MA in Painting at Falmouth University, needless to say this was only dream and my further education took me to Bolton institute studying a B.S.c in Textile Technology part time for many years a far cry from becoming an artist.

What is the last thing you created?

My recent work is loosely based on the homeless in Manchester & London and the last painting is called “Still Life” and possibly the strongest piece in the 8 works I have completed.  I made a decision not to sell any of these pieces as I felt they should all stand together as a collective for at least one exhibition.  “Still Life” will be offered at the RA Summer 2021 and plan to exhibit the collection is underway for winter 2021.

What is the last book you read?

As an actual read It was a sometime ago but I remember the book its was called 45 by Bill Drummond, he was the mind behind the band the KLF in the 1990s which managed to systematically make dance records hit after hit and then be the first band to set fire to a million pound for reasons that make no sense.  I tend to read odd and strange matter.

What was the best concert you have been to?

Easily the Stone Roses I was a big follower of the 90s Manchester scene but the Stone Roses in their early live performances were fantastic.

What is your favourite film?

Breaking Glass.  It was an early 80s film with Hazel O Connor which I have recently re-watched, honestly it is a real bad film but culturally at the time was spot on.  To second that would be Quadrophenia.

 What inspires you to be creative?

Music, I never paint in silence and often listen to the same tracks repletely throughout the painting process.  I always take a photograph of the work in progress and refer back to it and also the music in order to correct and study the composition.  

What advice would you give to a teenage you?

Listen and then rewind and listen again.  Apply that to everything and most things will make sense, for the things that nothing make sense pretend they do. 

If you could learn a new creative skill what would it be?

I would love to learn Pottery, in fact mix that with Sculpture and that would be perfect.  In my early art education, I spent I little time with clay and really enjoyed working with it you never know this maybe something I approach later in life.

What is the best & worst thing somebody has said about your work?

Well, the worst thing was with a very early self-portrait I clearly remember the persons words “Wow that’s a fantastic likeness of John Craven, was it photograph of him in Newsround?”  erm. The best thing someone said was very recently, he commented on my use of colour and the angular paint mark.  In his words “2019 for is the start of Blackley’s return to painting, intriguing. I really want to see more” 

Which living artist’s work do you most admire and why?

Francis Bard.  I love the way Francis adds layers and at the same time tunes in detail it fascinates me how this process works I look back at his paintings and find myself bringing his techniques to my palette and canvas I am still learning and his works just amazes me. 

What would be your next dream job?

A job that really isn’t a job would be perfect.  Always fancied myself as a fashion designer.