“London based artist Paul West draws inspiration from rugged landscapes influenced by his Dorset roots and frequent travels around Northumberland. Low horizons, huge skies and the secrets of Woodlands and solitary trees are key features in his work.”
In a very quiet place in north London, Paul West’s studio and home is located in a white house that surrounded by flowers and bushes. Ringing the doorbell, I heard Paul’s welcoming voice and saw his warm smile once the door was opened. I stepped in and immediately impressed by its interior design style, which combined with western and eastern tastes. A set of big squared Marilyn Monroe from Any Warhol stands out. The neon pink and yellow on them decorate the living room into a vivid tone.
“The sky is so big.”
“I grew up in Bridport, a smallish town near the coast of West Bay in Dorset. When I was 4 I cut my foot badly on Weymouth beach and was rushed to hospital. I stared out of the cab, up at the sky to take my mind away from the carnage below, and since that moment the sky has fascinated me and is my primary inspiration when I draw.” Paul West is passionate about the countryside and landscapes, which give him inspiration. “My favourite thing is going out to an open space and walk in countryside, to see the sky, the sky is so big. I am always inspired by it.”
When Paul was a teenager, he used to be so influenced by the arty environment in his college. “I moved to London and went to the LCP, graduating with a 1st class BA (Hons).” But after that, he started his graphic designer career. Until now, Paul has run a design company for 23 years. “I embarked on my career path to music industry as a record cover designer, working for Peter Saville, Mark Farrow, Vaughan Oliver and so on.” Paul’s design company is called Form, in which Paul and his partner Paula Benson have worked for most of the Indie and major labels such as Depeche Mode, Girls Aloud, Scritti Politti, Pendulum, Everything But The Girl and Elbow.
“In between the fast paced work life at Form, I take my more meditative moments in charcoal drawing. Low horizons, huge skies and the secrets of Woodlands and solitary trees are key features in my work. I create stark, emotive works, creating spaces with brooding volume, scarred with a more ‘frenetic’ deconstructed mark making.”
“Andy Warhol is a big influential person for me of course. When I see the Marilyn, I see the colour, the style and the dots. So fascinating.” “Picasso said it takes a long time to become young, very true.” Paul says, “I feel it takes me decades to clear my mind and to know how to draw like a five years old kid, just to make it into such a simple thing.”
“Not anything more than somebody in the process of developing an art”
Fame and money isn’t the purpose for Paul to do arts. He enjoys the whole process of giving a shape of his own ideas. “It is just bringing so much happiness for me. At the end of the day, if somebody likes it, that’s brilliant, but I enjoy developing my idea. Especially when it’s for me and not for anybody else.” “I’ve never got any kind of illusions that I am anything more than somebody in the process of developing an art. Of course fame or money or whatever that means would be really nice. But it’s not the thing that I’ve been thinking about.”
Paul is trying to describe the inspiration that his experiences has brought about to him, trying to describe the feelings that he has always had for the nature and the atmosphere that stays in his mind. “I’ve got something in my brain that I really like and I am trying to find it. I am trying to find it either through the charcoal or through the painting colours. You know, when you step in an exhibition, you don’t really know what is going on. Sometimes something just attracts you and you just think, wow, that’s brilliant. I am trying to make something from the back of my mind, something makes me feel exactly that way.” “The idea is a kind of pushing what you are doing and not being so satisfied by yourself. Then eventually you get there by finally did something you really like.”
Paul West has done his exhibition in London last year and there are more is expected to go. At the end of the interview, Paul shows his biggest charcoal to me, a two-meter amazing work. “It will coast 600 pounds to just frame it,” he smiles to me, “but I like the way it looks.” I stare at the piece, watching the peaceful wide sky and the trees that stand aside. For a moment, I felt a breeze went through my face.
In February 2013 I exhibited at the Candid Arts Exhibition, Islington London.