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A different way of seeing: Tommy Ramsay November 15 2012

Interview by Kate Rintoul

What brought you to Chelsea and how will you remember your time there? 

I will remember my time at Chelsea fondly. I found that it is a course that prepares you for the future in a realistic way. I say this, as the structure of the Fine Art course at Chelsea teaches students that they need to be self motivated. This is a good idea, as if you are serious about becoming an artist then you must learn to work without supervision or encouragement.

Your work is focussed on your physical surroundings, where else do you look for inspiration? 

Books which have been particularly interesting for me recently have been Baurdrillard's Simulations and Marc Auge's Non-places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity as well as various works by George Perec and Italo Calvino's texts, as well as various texts from Henri Lefebvre and James Elkins. 

Music is a big part of my life, my work has drawn direct inspiration from artists such as Mink DeVille, Bruce Springsteen (in particular the lyrics and atmosphere of the Ghost of Tom Joad album) and Bob Dylan.

Art is a main source of inspiration. Some of my current favourites are Josephine Halvorson, Thomas Nozkowski, Shiraez Houshiary's painting's, Raoul De Keyser, Richard Diebenkorn, Georigio de Chirico and Girogio Morandi.

What is your working process, do you photograph or sketch before painting? 

I have found that I need to vary my processes every so often in order to feel that I am moving forwards. This year I have changed tack in my process slightly. I have worked directly from object/space onto canvas, but I find that working from my own photographs allows for more time and slower decision making. I often do a lot sketches before starting work, often working out my ideas in small canvases before moving onto a larger scale if necessary.

Your paintings give new significance to things that are often overlooked, what started this interest and is it part of a wider statement? 

I feel that in our present society time and the awareness of its passing is always hard to grasp. The structure of our daily life promotes a fast pace of living. Even our communication with other people  seems to often point to the future- how often do you see people together both on their phones, the point of communication is often in a different time or place. I feel that painting opens up a space in which we can be offered the chance for a different way of seeing and living.

The idea of time- particularly it’s effects are always present in your work, what does time mean for you? My work looks at everyday, common spaces. I address these anonymous spaces within the everyday and wish to enliven their facelessness with some potential for confrontation with issues of time, looking and interpretation or even just a pause. I would like to open up for the viewer a space where time is slowed down and experiences evoked in my paintings are re-triggered in their daily life. I often feel that one of the main objectives of my work is to remind the viewer of time, its effect and to try to keep hold of a few fragments of moments, to cause something to remain before it gets washed into a non-existence of information.

Spending any time looking at your work and talking to you and you end up looking at things very differently, I found myself staring at water-stained bricks at Ladywell  station after coming to your show at The Misty Moon gallery, you do this all the time do you find it’s made you look at the world differently? 

I am very pleased to hear that, as I always hope that having seen my work, the viewer will find themselves noticing these types of situations. I find that whatever I do I am always on the lookout for these ambiguities. These details are generally chance markings or patterns on walls, they can be human residue, like tea stains, they can also be natural, like the wearing of time on a particular area. These incidents can interest me for many reasons, be it the light, the colours, the shape, the texture or the ambiguity of the space. This is partly as these markings, once painted have a duality as autonomous markings and painterly marking.

You’re currently looking for a studio so you’re working on a much smaller scale, how are you finding this, what does scale mean to you? 

Scale completely alters the feel and reading of an image. Currently my imagery works better on a larger scale. I enjoy it when a large painting does not offer up a large amount of noise or information. This instead allows for more room for the eye (and consequently) the mind to wander and gather its own path.