As part of our new blog post theme, that of ‘Meet the art teacher/artist’ each month we will highlight either an art teacher/tutor, artist or designer maker and ask a handful of questions, nothing too serious but something that could encourage some interaction between art teachers, artists also college tutors.
Welcome Anna Ray, artist – if you would like to take part or know someone who would then download the questions here and fire them back to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Who are you and where do you work? I am an artist and textile designer. I was formerly a lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art. I worked with undergraduates and postgraduates in the Tapestry Department. I also taught a range of subjects in First Year Studies, which is the equivalent of a foundation course. I am now living just outside of London in Hertfordshire where I have a studio at home.
When did you decide you wanted to be an art teacher/tutor/artist? I was initially inspired by my parents’ love of art. We visited galleries and museums in the UK and France throughout my childhood, which was a huge influence. My mother had a large textile collection and a set of home made silk dresses from the sixties, which always fascinated me. Our house had elaborate wallpaper and art posters throughout. My mother was always making things and I was keen to copy her. She had not been able to take a place at a London commercial art school when she was in her teens because she had to find work. It came naturally to her to make things and so being creative was part of the daily routine.
Where and what did you study? I went to Leeds College of Art and Design and then Edinburgh College of Art where I studied Tapestry at degree level, both BA and MFA. The Tapestry Department was in the School of Drawing and Painting, so the approach was Fine Art rather than commercial textile design.
What is the best thing about being an art teacher/tutor/artist? Being an artist frees your mind.
How would you describe your style (clothes, art, home….whichever you choose) Eclectic, nostalgic, junk shop, romantic. I’m a 90’s girl.
Do you listen to music while you're working? If so, what? ……Opera, Chopin, Gonzales, Bjork, Feist, Joni Mitchel, Laura Marling, Nick Cave, Frank Sinatra, Billy Holiday. Melancholia rules my taste.
Which artist or designer inspires you most and why? There are many artists that have influenced me over the years. Early experiences of work by Tony Oursler, Louise Bourgeois, Annette Messager and Pierre Bonnard took my breath away. The artists Maureen Hodge and Giuseppe Coco have both had a direct impact on my work, knowing them has helped me to find who I am as an artist.
If you could give one bit of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be? Don’t be afraid. Travel.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become an artist or designer? Speak to other artists. Make things, take risks, think for yourself, trust your instincts. Don’t worry too much about what everyone else is doing. Always ask “can this be better, have more impact, more meaning?” Don’t stop at the beginning, keep experimenting.
What’s your greatest achievement? Showing my work ‘Knot’ in Italy in the altar space of a Romanesque Church beneath the crumbling frescos.
What three things would you still like to do before you die? I’d like to finish everything I’ve started.
What’s your favourite food? Chocolate
Where was the last place you went on holiday? Paris
What was the last book you read? ‘The Woman Who Rode Away’ short stories by DH Lawrence.
What is your biggest distraction? Daydreaming
If you ruled the world, what single act would you carry out. I would like to rid the world of bullies.
Do you have any regrets? I regret looking back too much in my life, regrets are dead weight.
In no more than five words, write your own epitaph. (Optional!) She was a perfectionist.