Jackson’s interview 2017 exhibitor Claire Sparkes

According to Jackson’s writer Lisa Takahashi, The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition ‘celebrates the very best in watercolour painting today: from abstract to figurative, contemporary to traditional; there is no house style of the exhibition and every year brings its own surprises.’

Ahead of this year’s deadline (5pm, Monday 25 June), Lisa interviewed 2017 exhibitor Claire Sparkes.  A snippet of their conversation is published below; head to the Jackson’s Blog to read the interview in full.

What is the most memorable exhibition of watercolour works that you have ever been to see? What was it that made it stick in your memory?

Graham Dean, ‘Prayer 2’

In the late 1980’s, on a school trip, I saw an exhibition of Graham Dean’s work in a venue just outside Canterbury in Kent. It made such an impact on me and consequently I still have the catalogue. The scale of the pieces struck me, and the way he illustrated with human condition through his depictions of people. I admired how he employed loose wet into wet techniques, but retained a level of control over the figurative imagery. The layering within the paintings allowed him to combine dreamlike suggestions of the past with the everyday. I rediscovered Dean’s work in the mid-90’s in an exhibition in Brighton. I decided to return to watercolour after seeing this exhibition, having painted with acrylics for some years. He inspired me to begin experimenting with a looser style.

Define watercolour or describe what it means to you in one word.

Flow. Most notably, the way the water carries the paint and flows in its own way carries so much meaning. Essentially, I think it’s magical that although I can guide the medium, I cannot entirely control it. Additionally, I like how colour can be layered and lifted from the surface. It gives me the chance to respond to the behaviour of the paint.

Claire Sparkes, ‘Hyakinthos’

The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018 is now calling for entries. Open to all UK-based artists, the competition offers a generous range of prizes including a First Prize of £6000, Second Prize of £3000 and Third Prize of £1000. Apply online by 5pm on Monday 25 June: sundaytimeswatercolour.artopps.co.uk

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