My name is Steffie Richards and I am a Fine Artist. My practice is that of a painter and a paper sculptor.
I studied at Nottingham Trent University as a mature student after spending many years working in the Quality Safety and Environment dept within the Railway Industry.
My first degree BA (Hons) Fine Art was attained in 2005 followed by my MA (Distinction) Fine Art in 2010.
My interests during my studies were at first focussed on capturing moments of personal experience, when running long distance and through various medium ranging from painting, through video to sculpture.
During my time studying for my MA by registered project, I was driven to explore painting as a 3D entity, questioning whether painting could be physically 3 dimensional, consisting of its own surface properties, be painted or unpainted and still be “a painting”.
After leaving university I spent several years working within schools and other educational settings and within the community, running arts workshops. I participated on large projects with Creative Partnerships, Come Alive with Science, and the Stem Fluency Lab to encourage learning through creativity, before returning full time to my personal practice.
Throughout this time I have exhibited both my painting and paper sculpture practices widely, including several solo exhibitions, both in the UK and abroad.
I am currently in receipt of an Arts Council Funding Research and Development Grant, which will enable me to fulfil my ideas for a major project with several exhibitions to be held over the next 18 months.
I work from my own studio, which is based in Derbyshire. I am expecting to be working in residence in Cornwall for part of the duration of my R&D project.
My painterly investigation lies in the transient state of a reduced image and the shifting aspect of positive and negative space evolving from that image.
The choice of image is a reflection of things which are personally important to me – a measure of things I find valuable. They are fleeting glances of personal experience – moments of pride, moments sometimes unexplainable, but moments we identify with, ones which, make us unique in the way we are.
In taking a viewpoint that if we left behind us, a trace of our passing through a space, then this is my visualisation of how that space might be. It is the ‘visually’-invisible, but physical clutter I imagine we leave behind, within these moments when what we experience becomes a deeply personal and memorable event, embedded in our psyche, but which we can no longer prove existed.
My most recent subject matter came about through my enchantment with the whole ‘sand, sea and surf’ – coastal environment that I find so magical whenever I visit Cornwall: I don’t know exactly what it is that resonates so deeply with me here in this place, except maybe that this is where I feel at home. Trying to put this into context I believe can only come through making work which touches upon these enchanting moments.
As a swimmer, too, my experiences seem heightened and amplified in every way from swimming underwater and surfacing to finding myself surrounded by seals, or feeling envious of those adept at riding the surf.
Being submerged for increasingly longer periods of time whilst snorkelling with my young granddaughter I found myself trying inexplicably to negotiate what I had just experienced after losing all sense of time and wondering at the possibility at becoming completely lost in oneself.
My work is ever evolving but still deals with those momentary personal experiences, which have a monumentally profound and long lasting effect upon me. When I revisit these experiences in my mind and through my paintings, I feel the same sense of the experience, once more.
3D Sculpture Statement
My exploration into 3D paper sculpture began when studying for my MA in Fine Art and when questioning whether painting could be both 2D and 3D in form, and still be painting.
I was inspired to begin this creative journey by a tiny photograph in a flight magazine showing a promotional view of Malaga. The photograph showed a multitude of terracotta roofed white houses, cluttered almost stiflingly together and seemingly all facing in the same direction. Being drawn very deeply by this photograph, I perceived almost immediately that at some point work would evolve from this.
I began exploring how 3 dimensional forms could be made from painterly surfaces such as watercolour paper and linen as these were my preferred materials as a painter. Seeing this initially as a possible extension of painting, I can now say without hesitation, that it has become a separate practice entirely.
My technical intention here lies in increasing the strength of the usually fragile materials associated with painting, through structure. I feel this relates metaphorically to the fragility of nature itself and yet, when aided, can overpower anything in its way.
My overriding concerns at the time of creation were with the effects that housing developments have when encroaching upon green spaces. Particularly how many new buildings seem to be crammed into tight spaces where once had been a rural environment or where stood a single dwelling, in daylight, amidst its own green space with room to breath, to grow and to be self-sustaining.