Meet Speldhurst artist Libbi Gooch
PUBLISHED: 10:36 09 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:36 09 February 2015
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
Self-taught Speldhurst artist Libbi Gooch references Turner with her great seascapes and wonderful flower paintings
Libbi Gooch works in a converted double garage attached to her house at Speldhurst, not far from Tunbridge Wells.
Her studio was created just 18 months ago and before this she painted in a downstairs lounge. She has been here 13 years and loves the surrounding rural countryside, which she describes as “absolutely beautiful: it’s not called the Garden of England for nothing.”
Although she studied for a Foundation Year at Hastings, Libbi describes herself as self taught. Her advent into art occurred as an epiphany when she walked into a small gallery and was convinced she could paint just as well as the canvases on show.
She asked the gallery owner if she could present some works, went home and got started. She has never looked back.
Libbi first experimented in oils, which she wanted to use because of their depth and quality. Her earlier paintings were quite Turneresque; large seascapes.
Turner is one of Libbi’s art heroes, an interest stemming from museum visits as a child with her parents. She also loves some of Manet’s later work, the still lifes of flowers, and we comment on one noted painting of a bunch of asparagus. And she admires the works of Joan Eardley.
The advantage of the oils Libbi uses is that they don’t dry too quickly, which can sometimes be a disadvantage but which she actually enjoys. “You can move oils around, I love everything about them, especially the movement.”
So what about the process of creation? “Sometimes I start with no idea, but there has to be some kind of vision or emotion or excitement,” she explains. “It could be a simple weed I’ve seen - or a memory. It’s an adventure, it can change, it can morph. And music plays a really important part.”
Libbi’s musicians of choice are Vivaldi and Mozart, but she also listens to Kate Bush, and “anything dynamic – I will listen over and over, it gives me an energy.”
As for colour, Libbi explains: “It depends how I feel. I mix on various palettes. I may use a separate palette if I want to keep something clean, one palette for muddier colours or a board for mixing.”
Libbi’s work is mainly on canvas or board and she loves painting on a large scale of 80 x 80 centimetres, but is coy about how long it takes to create a work – some take a day or two, others hang around for a couple of months, as she doesn’t paint every day.
“No two paintings are the same. Most of the paintings I am happy with happen very quickly; the spontaneous ones definitely work the best,” she says.
“There’s a big mirror I can use which shows what is wrong: it makes you look differently at what you’ve just done.”
Her most exciting work is a painting she did about two years ago called Summer Riot. A health problem had temporarily caused Libbi to have double vision and everything seemed to get overlapped.
“My work became more abstract after that and I chose brighter colours. I was very happy with Summer Riot.”
She describes the genre of her paintings as “impressionistic, with abstract expressionism chucked in for good measure.” However for me, some of her lovely flower still lifes reference more the Dutch painters, albeit with a looser and more impressionistic brush.
This movement is key and as she says of the surfaces of her paintings, “they are energetic, even in still lifes there’s a sense of movement, a rhythmic movement, perhaps because of the music.”
I ask Libbi if painting is important and get an impassioned response: “Yes, oh god, a tricky question. Why, you ask? I suppose because the arts make us human.”
To a young artist starting out, she says, “don’t be afraid, get a cheap set of paints and go for it. I would say, just do it, get on with it and don’t expect each painting to be a masterpiece, you can learn from your mistakes; don’t be afraid of failure.”
Libbi’s works are available to view in Tunbridge Wells at The Redleaf Gallery. n
Get in touch
Contact Libbi at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.libbigooch.co.uk.
The Redleaf Gallery is at 1 Castle Street, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1XJ, 01892 526695