Throughout the Waterloo Festival 2020, we've been platforming artists who either live in or are connected to Waterloo. Chris Horner, a member of the The London Group, repurposes old building waste, breathing new life into material which once provided shelter and contained life within it.
My artworks explore the relationship between artist and material. I transform pre-used building materials into new painted sculptural artworks. I like to restore life back into these pre-used building materials, which were once important and wanted, and experienced a feeling of appreciation and value when used on the building site. I support my Father in the building trade. I have to balance my art practice with this job as it enables me to keep producing work, and acts as a financial supporter, which I believe for any artist is pivotal in this current climate. I am very lucky to be able to support my Father because it is a job, which I have connected to my art practice in order to fuel and expand my style of making. I operate with pre-used building materials like; cement, plaster, building sand, strong liquidizes, with art supplies; glosses, acrylics, oils, turpentines, etc.
I create experiments, which originate from an invented movement called an 'Unknown working process'. This is when both pre-used building materials and art supplies are mixed together. I am interested in finding out how both might function differently when put in an obscure process. It is not about the end result, it is all about the different actions that happen in between the process of making. Having a range of subjects to work from as a reference point supports my understanding when I am constructing each piece. These themes include; playing with elements of chance and deliberately setting up modes of risk taking, challenging my creativity by testing my levels of endurance, working with known and unknown factors which share a link to the familiar and the unfamiliar, and producing works through devised systems and operations which emerge from rules, rituals, and a strong state of being obsessed.
I believe my art is an expression or an application of human creative skill and imagination. This enables the viewer to experience the world differently. When making each piece I not only like to challenge myself, I like to distort the mind of the viewer where familiar associations are interrupted by themes relating to the unfamiliar.
There are many artists who have influenced me. If I am thinking about my current position within my practice, and the STUDY SERIES, which I produced in Lockdown, I would have to say there were three artists who heightened my knowledge within my making. These artists were; Peter Sedgley, Fahrelnissa Zeid and Helen Frankenthaler.
I chose to look at Peter Sedgley’s work because I was interested in how he works with colours. Each colour which, is used becomes intensified through the power of light. This then made me think about colour sequences and colour transformations.
Zeid’s work is loose and very expressive, but at the same time tight and complex. I like how she swings between these acts of making. The swirling and crossing lines in her works give an original feeling of chaos. The shapes which start to appear in her work were filled with carefully chosen colours. The result is a complex, kaleidoscopic effect. I was drawn to her working style as it incorporated suggestions of order and chaos.
Helen Frankenthaler was an artist who developed her own style and technique known as the ‘soak-stain’ technique. She thinned oil paint to the consistency of watercolour. This allowed her to create pools of paint, which could be worked into with different brushes and other tools. Frankenthaler’s willingness to expand the possibilities in her making was an instant attraction, and was something I wanted to incorporate into my own work.
I did not want Lockdown to become a frustrating and challenging time. Instead I took effect from Frankenthaler’s approach to producing, and used it as a time to try out new techniques, methods and possibilities.
One of the main subjects I focused on for this new series; MAY 2020 was the Principles of Colour Design. One of the main themes I wanted to test out was the Contrasting of Colours, how the analogues of different colours can draw our attention further to an image.
For example colours:
Red + Green = the highest visual impact of an image
Purple + Yellow = the highest visual impact of an image
Orange + Blue = the highest visual impact of an image
This is known as a ‘Hue circle’ a field guide to colour. Colour Design is broken down into three dimensions: hue, value and chroma. I wanted to somehow include all three into each study I was creating.
Hue was easy as this represents the colour’s name: Red, Green, Purple, Yellow, Orange and Blue.
Value meant the lightness or darkness of the colour. To make this as accurate as I could I did not do any mixing of the paints. Instead I used both the acrylic paint and the UV paint straight from the tube. I felt that this gave each colour a true reflection.
Chroma describes the colourfulness of an image. High chroma colours are vivid, whereas low chroma colours are muted. I wanted each study to be dominant in look, and eye catching, so I deliberately worked with strong powerful colours.
Another subject, which I also wanted to explore more into, was ‘Sensory Experiences.’ ‘Sensory Experiences’ affect’s the humans senses, whether this is sound, sight, touch, smell or taste. I was most interested in concentrating on one sense, which was ‘sight’. The decision to work with UV paint enabled me to create impactful methods and techniques, which could provide new ways of seeing colour for the viewer. The vivid glow of UV colour changes the original perception of the chosen colour, as it becomes enhanced and more charged.
I very much enjoyed working on these studies as it has now opened up new avenues for my practice. I will continue to develop my use of the colour design, and I will most certainly progress further with the subject of ‘Sensory Experiences.’
Future works could evolve from more than just one sense, so if you are interested in seeing how this could happen continue to follow my work through my website, www.chrishornerartist.com, or my social media platforms.
9th June 2020
Chris Horner is a British artist who lives and works in Hampshire. He received his BA in Fine Art at the University for the Creative Arts in Surrey, UK. He also completed his MA in Fine Art at the University for the Creative Arts in Surrey in 2018. As an artist his main concern is the transformation and reconfiguration of pre-used building materials. He creates experiments, which elevate the value and appreciation of the pre-used building materials. Each piece starts to evolve into something unique, as they take on a new guise through an art context. Horner has exhibited nationally and internationally and has also had a number of solo exhibitions around England: Open Studio Exhibition, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey (2016) Sculptural Painting Configurations, The Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey (2018) and Remnants from Ewhurst, Surrey, The Old Diorama Arts Centre Gallery, 201 Drummond St, Regent’s Place, London (2019).
Selected group exhibitions have been at The Redchurch St Gallery, The OXO Tower - Bargehouse, Lewisham Arthouse, The Melia White House, Safehouse 2, The Lethaby Gallery, The National Army Museum, The Fitzrovia Gallery, The Cello Factory, The Shard, The Jeannie Avent Gallery and The Offshoot Gallery.
Horner received the JPES Partnership prize at The London Group Open Exhibition in 2019. He was elected by The London Group Membership Committee to become a member in 2020, and his works have been collected in various private collections.