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Marissa Weatherhead: A Table by the Sea


3 February - 17 March 2024

"I paint objects as I think them not as I see them"

Opening on the 3 February is our new headline exhibition 'A Table by the Sea'. Set to unveil a collection of original still life paintings by Marissa Weatherhead which explores the notion of 'the table' as a performative space and a vessel for memory.

Marissa holds an MA from the Royal College of Art in London, alongside a first class BA in Fine Art from Gloucestershire College of Art and Design. Marissa has exhibited internationally including the Vennice Biennale, she was awarded the John Minton Award and has a commissioned piece hanging in the Guildhall at Londons' Barbican which is held in the Arthur Anderson Collection.  

The theme and title for Marissa's upcoming show was heavily inspired by a residency she took part in which took her to the Spanish Coast. Her time by the coast heavily inspired her practice. Each painting is filled with vibrant and expressive coastal motifs and in situ drawings of shells, boats, harbours and interiors. 'The Table' in her paintings becomes a tool for her and us to connect with memory and place. We asked Marissa about her life as an artist and delved deeper into the theme which run through her practice.


Where did your artistic interest in the table come from?

The table started out as a compositional surface and over time became more dominant in its presence as a ‘stage’, a set or theatre that holds the objects in a moment of drama and like a photograph needs to finds its composition and centre to make the characters work. The objects are chosen for their sense of association that can take us beyond the mere moment of looking.

How much do you think 'still life' connects to performance?  

I connect with the idea that a group of objects come together on a table top in the same way actors assemble on a stage. They all have a part to play and interact with each other.

What inspires you about the sea?  

The sea has played a large part in this series on different levels, the seaside has that association of pleasurable moments, the sparkling water, the salty breeze sailing boats, lapping water. They are all associations of good times, and we can all relate to a bit of indulgence by the seaside. “The sea! The sea! The open sea! The blue the fresh, the ever free!” Bryan Procter.

Can you tell us a bit more about water in connection to your paintings?

Water gives a sense of pleasurable freedom and escapism that allows the mind to drift imagine and recall. It is also the home of many of my sea creatures and is a reminder that our own indulgence through over fishing and feasting leaves a precarious and fragile balance of nature if we are not mindful of our own actions.

Are your paintings based on real still life compositions?

My paintings have no set pattern or formula to follow and I never set up a composition to work from. The images that evolve are realised through memory, as a result paintings start in different ways with a line, shape or coloured background ,they evolve though their own sense of participation without a preconceived outcome Picasso stated “I paint objects as i think them not as see them“ to a certain extent this is true of my own approach

How do you get from intial sketch to finished painting?  

Sketches are important to get to know an image and to free up mark making. I rarely start from a sketch once I start a series of works because one image leads to another like variations on a memory they change and shift each referencing the past but finding its own voice. I love pushing a painting “beyond a moment “ in this instant some paintings undergo immense change as they develop and this is seen in the build up and layering of paint.

What does a typical day in your studio look like?

My studio is always busy, chaotic, messy even! The further I get into a body of work the more paintings in varying states of progress surround me, perched on any given surface. Tidying up always seems to break the creative thread so it is the one place I like being that isn’t tidy!

What is one rule you follow as a painter?

There are no rules to painting!

If you could spend the day in a studio with one artist living or dead who would it be and why?

For me it would have to be with Picasso. I do however spend a lot of time with his art as I always visit The Picasso Museum when I’m in Paris and more recently his museum in Malaga.

If you could be a person at the table in one of your still life paintings where would that table be and what food and drink would be on it?

My table would have to be beside the sea and I would definitely like to have it laden with dishes created for this exhibition by The Biscuit Factory Kitchen, all washed down with a glass or two of wine!

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