Tony Wright 2

Tony Wright 2

Interviewed on 28.06.2011

Listen to the interview:

Download a PDF transcript of the interview
(156.39 KB )

Adobe® Reader® required.
Get Adobe® Reader®

 

 

[TRACK 1]

TONY WRIGHT:

Ready to go then.

 

INTERVIEWER – MARTIN JONES:

Yeah.  Well first of all, hello.

 

TW:

Hello.

 

INTERVIEWER – Martin Jones:

What I want to speak to you about today Tony if it’s okay is……being an artist, where you get your inspiration from and does it tie in with you, politically or personally, or the way you live, and what inspired you around the time to become an artist, so I’ll start off with….I think, when did you first make the transition to becoming an artist or deciding you were gonna be an artist?

 

TW:

…..deciding I wanted to get into art and be an artist…….started about when I was….I don’t know……twelve….ten, eleven, twelve, somewhere around that age.  I think…..I mean it’s something I always liked to do.  I have a memory of doing finger painting at nursery while the other children were taking naps and I just carried on, and the teacher didn’t notice, and then I heard my name called out and they’d all got up, got dressed and were standing in the queue ready to leave, and I was still….there was paint all over my shirt and my hands

 

INTERVIEWER:

So nothing’s changed then!

 

TW:

No nothing’s changed, this is true, so I mean I have memories of really being into it when I was little, but…..and I always enjoyed doing it, but I think I went to….a reasonable school, a Catholic school in Omaha in Nebraska and we had to do a kind of…..IQ and some other sort of tests, and out of those tests they said I was the artistic type, and I thought ‘oh really, oh that’s interesting’ and I think it probably held true because there were questions like ‘what would you like to do with a typewriter – write a story, fix it if it broke, sell it to somebody’ and it went on like that, and I guess from doing that they sort of thought I was artistic, so once I’d kind of got it in my head that I was that way inclined, I…..and I think I must have had it naturally anyway, I went for it and I just started doing all these art classes and I loved it, and I just never really stopped.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Did you have a lot of encouragement from school and family?  Did they see the potential that was in you to become an artist…..

TW:

My family did I think.  I think both my parents were frustrated creative people.  I think my father wanted to be a drummer, he wanted to be a musician really and he….we always had music in the house and that’s what he really wanted to be, and my mother was….she used to design her own clothes when she was young and make them up, but they all got on the, you know, the nine-to-five treadmill thing…..and neither of them really ever did anything, but I think they saw the potential in me and then…..they didn’t push me, they…..if that’s what I wanted to do they supported me in whatever it is I wanted to do really

 

INTERVIEWER:

Did you actually go to art college?

 

TW:

Yeah.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Whereabouts?

 

TW:

I did a foundation year in St Helens and then I did a degree in Epsom in Surrey, and later on I did an MA at Leeds.

 

INTERVIEWER:

So is it a case of……you’ve got pretty hefty qualifications, but do you think your art would have remained…..as it is if you hadn’t gone for the qualifications, or do you think that inspired you at all, all that sort of thing… 

 

TW:

Oh, I think it totally changed me.  Before I’d done…..any…..before I’d completed any of my formal education shall we say, I was….I used to read about art all the time and try and do it, and I’d actually done some correspondence courses as well….and it was very much…I was a Vincent van Gogh man, Vincent van Gogh, he was like my….sort of hero.  I read everything about him and tried to paint like him, but I used to read about….I liked Rembrandt and Goya and different kinds of artists like that, I used to read about them a lot

 

INTERVIEWER:

So you looked at the classical artists really

 

TW:

Yeah, at that time, yeah, definitely, yeah.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Do you relate to any modern artists at all?  Is it something you liked to see or

 

TW:

What now, or then?

 

INTERVIEWER:

Well now really.

 

TW:

Now…..these days…..the only contemporary artist that I probably have any kind of interest in are the ones that do things to do with nature really.  I like Andy Goldsworthy, or that type of person really…..mainly because I’ve just got fed up with the art world as being….so insular and so narrow minded that I’ve kind of rejected a lot of it – it’s not so much I’ve rejected the artists, it’s just I’ve rejected the subject almost, and so I don’t keep up with it as I used to; I used to read – I used to know about everybody and knew everything that was going on.  These days my knowledge is somewhat limited, so I’m not really against it

 

INTERVIEWER:

Do you find that those artists who were against the grain, maybe talking late sixties, early seventies, who were considered to be outsiders in the art world, are now those who are running it and…..decide what’s art and what’s not

 

TW:

I don’t think artists really have much say in running anything much; I’m sure some do, it’s agents and gallery owners and critics and the likes of them that dictate what goes on and what gets known.

 

INTERVIEWER:

So it’s actually more….the actual freedom of art is always gonna be there because people… 

 

TW:

Well most people who are into art, they’re not gonna be bothered with all of that side of it.

 

INTERVIEWER:

But it is becoming a very……what’s the word for it I’m looking for……a very business orientated…..

 

TW:

It’s a very Saatchi kind of mentality….I mean if that’s what you want then fair enough go for it, but……it’s not what I was ever into, and never have been into making money really, unfortunately – I’ve been very successful at that – not making money! [laughing]

 

INTERVIEWER:

I think you should be proud of that to be honest. [laughing]  What artist apart from van Gogh – do you think van Gogh is championed by so many people because he is so…..the mad man with bright colours I suppose…..was he one of your main inspirations when you were a teenager?

 

TW:

Well when I was a teenager, after that, I suppose the Blue Rider movement – Paul Klee and Kandinskey and Macke and Marc and that…..that became very important for me, which later sort of turned into the Bauhaus movement, but all of that period from the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, that whole period I find fascinating really.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Is that the German Bauhaus movement?

 

TW:

Yeah.

 

INTERVIEWER:

As in the furniture and everything?

 

TW:

Well it was also…..I mean Gropius….Walter Gropius was an architect but it was also about furniture, but it was about everything cos what it was supposed to be, they taught the principles of design, of colour and this and that and the other, and that was supposed to be included into everyday life, that was part of the whole ethos which I really kind of went for in a big way really.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Where do you see yourself now as an artist?

 

TW:

Well  don’t….well I do and I don’t…..I haven’t painted in about ten years really.  What I have been doing during the last ten years is been thinking about it a lot…..and when I actually stopped painting I was becoming more and more involved with using words as part of the image, and I suppose…..in my head I’m still there somewhere…..but what I’ve been doing is I’ve been doing……I have made some things out in nature, just do things that don’t even get photographed, they just get left and they disappear, but also I’ve been developing story telling as a kind of alternative creative activity.

 

INTERVIEWER:

So the art that you’ve…..you’ve just….the art’s still there but you’ve just changed lanes in a way.  Does that make sense?

 

TW:

Well….that’s right, that is right, although I don’t do much.  I plan to get back to doing it……just exactly when I don’t know.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Did you have a……an anti-epiphany I suppose, when you decided to stop painting, or was it just something that stopped, you weren’t getting that creative urge… 

 

TW:

I made a conscious decision because of……my personal life……I got divorced and had to get a job, a nine-to-five sort of job to earn a lot of money to pay off my wife, my ex wife…..and I knew that if I was gonna continue being an artist, cos when I do I just get so immersed in it that I don’t do anything else, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hold down a proper job if I carried on thinking about it, so I had to focus on earning the money bit, which is what I did, and in fact it’s what I’m still doing, although what I do now gives me a lot more scope, a lot of free time shall we say, and it’s……collecting oral history which is what I do, is a creative activity in itself really, or I look at it in that way.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Do you get as much satisfaction, I mean, that thing that you do, with seeing people and getting their life down on film and tape, is fantastic, I think it’s such a positive thing to know the history of individuals as well as a society if you like.  Do you get as much satisfaction out of doing this as you did when you were….when you were painting and drawing or

 

TW:

It’s a difficult one that…….because what immediately runs through my head…..how do you…..how do you balance them up, how do you judge this against that, and I guess I used to get satisfaction from both of them and also get very frustrated from both of them, but in very very different ways……I think if I won the lottery tomorrow I would set up a trust and I would sit on the committee that ran Wild Rose interviewing people, although I’d still like to be involved by interviewing people but I’d have other people do all the rest of the work and I would probably just paint as much as I could, or create things out in nature.

 

INTERVIEWER:

So you’d know this was still carrying on and you’d have an oversight?

 

TW:

Yeah.  I have a kind of…..thing about it, that it’s…..which I shouldn’t do really, because I started it and I’ve…..done it for nine years now…..I’m getting to the point where it’s no longer just the way I make a living, it’s….it’s become

 

INTERVIEWER:

Part of your life

 

TW:

It’s starting to become – it is a big part of my life – but it’s actually starting to become what my original vision for it was, which was creating this archive over a period of time and looking at one small place, Hebden Bridge, but on all different levels so that there’s a whole…..it would probably be for other people to go through it all and work out what was really going on here…..over the past ten years or over the next ten years as well.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Is that how long…..I mean has this got time structure?  Have you decided there will be a cut off…..like painting, have you decided, will there be a cut off point ‘I’m going back to painting’ or will you decide to carry on with the nature sculptures, or will you go in a completely different direction that says things that you haven’t done that you want to do now, regarding your artistic…..artistic-ness?

 

TW:

Yeah well there is, I mean there are….I have ideas of like not so much making films as in big Hollywood productions or even low budget feature films, but I would like to maybe use video more, and use it almost as if it were a painting, and create layers of things and use….again, use words with it, but…..incorporate images of nature as well as humanity, and the use of words, be it just sound and talking or actual visual words that….you know, and create like montage kind of things in film, so I can see myself going that way really.

 

INTERVIEWER:

So that would be getting many different pieces of film and editing them together

 

TW:

Yeah.

 

INTERVIEWER:

That sort of thing

 

TW:

That sort of idea.

 

INTERVIEWER:

I want to go back a bit.  When you were……first getting into art….as a teenager, as a young man, was the political……change that was going on, would it be the late sixties? Is that right? 

 

TW:

Late sixties yeah, I mean I started art school in……well I went to university in ’69 in the States but I wasn’t studying art, although I did study art but it wasn’t at an art school, and the political side of things….it was very much….it was a very big part of my life…..because there was all the Civil Rights and anti Vietnam and stuff, and I was really…..like the autobiography of Malcolm X, but I was also listening to…..pop music – rock ‘n’ roll

 

INTERVIEWER:

That was an amazing time to be around.

 

TW:

People, you know, with kind of revolutionary ideas and….but also lifestyle choices and just talking about, you know, it doesn’t all have to be the way they tell you it has to be

 

INTERVIEWER:

They’re throwing questions at you and it’s up to you to make your own answers to them I suppose, yeah.

 

TW:

Yeah.

 

INTERVIEWER:

When…..we were going back but we’ll come forward….when did you come to Hebden Bridge?

 

TW:

I moved to Hebden Bridge in 1987.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Had you been living in the UK before that or had you

 

TW:

Yeah, I’d been living here since 1970.

 

INTERVIEWER:

And…..I’ve been to the United States, I loved the place – the weather was better – what made you actually connect with the UK and want to make you stay here?

 

TW:

Because I thought it was a place…..it was freer, it was a place where the word freedom meant something.  In America I felt that everything was…..controlled is the word about America, everything was trying to be controlled……and……my father was American and my mother was English, and the whole idea…..I mean the National Health Service as an idea I thought was brilliant, you know, for a start, but also it seemed to be a much freer place where you could say what you wanted to say…..without getting hit over the head with it.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Well there’s time to change. [laughing]

 

TW:

It has changed a lot since.

 

INTERVIEWER:

When you moved over, was it at a time when you……you started…..painting straight away or was it something you fell back into or was it something you continued from

 

TW:

When I came here?

 

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah.

 

TW:

I came here to go to art school.  I moved to Liverpool; I lived with my grandparents…..and got into a foundation course in St Helens which was, again, their course was based on this Bauhaus idea in a sense….their foundation, it was a rotating….you did a week worth of…..well 2D, so there was design and painting and all that sort of stuff and a week of 3D, so we worked with clay and wood and glass and metal and all that, and then a week of what they used to call graphics which was much more to do with the commercial side of art, and then the fourth week you were back to the other one, but every week you always did life drawing, photography, art history and what they used to call complementary studies, which was to do with a little bit of sociology and a little bit of literature and what have you.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Have you ever thought about going into teaching art yourself?

 

TW:

Yeah yeah, I have done.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Was that in Hebden or

 

TW:

It was in…….well, you say teaching, I was…..I actually worked as a community artist for a lot of years and I started doing that in Kent.  I lived in…..in Folkestone.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Someone’s got to! [laughing]

 

TW:

……and actually began doing that in….the early eighties, then I went off; I came to Manchester and did a course, did a qualification in community arts which wasn’t just painting and art, it was also, I did music and theatre as well, and public speaking and things like that…..and then I worked in Salford, in youth clubs in Salford and I was part of a circus group……and did all sorts of things for a year or two there, then I moved to Hebden in………again, I started teaching in adult education and in further education, and did that for part-time, while I did community arts I also did teaching and I was painting and I had…..used to have exhibitions in various parts of the country and I had a gallery in London and showed some of my work.

 

INTERVIEWER:

So you’re quite a successful artist really aren’t you?

 

TW:

Oh, I don’t think successful’s the word [laughing] but I’ve done a lot!

 

INTERVIEWER:

Oh I don’t mean to say it in a monetary way, I mean you certainly haven’t……you’ve been there and you’ve pushed the boundaries out for certain you know, you’ve done the galleries, you’ve done the….but I’ve got to go back to the circus troupe….tell me about this.

 

TW:

It came about in a very weird kind of way.  When I was doing the community arts course, every term you had to do a placement and I’d been living in London before I moved up here, and I had a friend there who had a girlfriend who had a friend who lived in Eccles and worked for a community magazine, and he used to work with a youth worker who ran this…..community centre, well he didn’t run it, but he ran the activities in it, and so through that long line of things I got hooked up with him to help him work in this community centre, and I did a term doing that…..and then I did a term with Horse and Bamboo doing large puppets and stuff like that, and then…..I started working with this guy because he wanted to learn circus skills because we were working with kids that were unemployed, kids over eighteen, or were they over sixteen…..I think they might have been over sixteen and under twenty-five who were out of work, and he decided one way to get them engaged was to teach them circus skills, so there was a group called Manchester Circus…..Skills something or other, I can’t remember exactly what they were called

 

INTERVIEWER:

What sort of time period was this?

 

TW:

This was ‘80……must have been early…..late ’85…..’86

 

INTERVIEWER:

Cos there would have still been high unemployment then in the north

 

TW:

Yes.  So we…..you know, we had to learn it and then we…..you know we learnt it off the proper people and then we taught it to the kids and we had a thing during the week in the evening, and then a kind of Saturday club thing that we did with them, and we did….you know, juggling, clowning, unicycle riding, stilt walking, you know, all that kind of basic stuff…..and then we used to go and do little performances in working men’s clubs, like rugby clubs; we went in with the kids and various places like that [laughing]

 

INTERVIEWER:

You say you moved to Hebden Bridge about ’87.

 

TW:

Yeah.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Was it a place that you….cos it took me a year to get used to the place.  It is a very…very eclectic…..very open minded artistic place.  Did you grab that vibe straight away or did it take a while to

 

TW:

Fairly quickly I think……I mean we moved here…..the reason we moved here…..was….we were going to Scotland on holiday and the car broke down, and we couldn’t get it fixed for three days so we stayed here and we decided we liked it, and at that time I was working at the University, well the Polytechnic as it was then, of Manchester in the Art History department and my wife had just gotten onto her Social Worker course in Leeds Poly and it just…..because we happened to break down here, we realised it was half way in between the two and we thought ‘right, well that’s’….and we just sort of liked the whole place, there was….you know, the park and the smallness of the shops and….because we’d lived in London together then we’d lived in the south side of Manchester together and we were gradually going from you know, big cities to smaller and smaller and this just seemed like a natural progression and we liked it, and as soon as we were here, after about two weeks we found out she was pregnant, so I started plugging into….thinking ahead because we bought this particular house so that I could have a studio here, of course with a child we couldn’t do that so I started looking around for studio space and found…..and helped found North Light originally, and also helped found the….the nursery - it was NAG – Nursery Action Group, I became part of that and we did it at the bottom of Moss Lane and once I’d got it up and running after about a year and a half, two years, I just turned it over to the people who got employed and they’ve taken it on leaps and bounds, bought Crossley Mill and they’ve turned it into a really good thing, so I realised there was a lot of people doing all sorts.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Do you find that Hebden Bridge has changed since you came here?

 

TW:

Oh yeah.

 

INTERVIEWER:

For the better or for worse?

 

TW:

……

 

INTERVIEWER:

Or a little bit of both?

 

TW:

…….well I suppose both in a sense.  I mean change is pretty inevitable really…..it’s a lot busier now than it used to be.  There’s more traffic……there’s more people, there’s even more, I mean it used….they wanted it to be a tourist town and it has definitely become a tourist town, and when I moved here there were lots of like junk shops and antique shops and now there’ll all cafés 

 

INTERVIEWER:

It’s got a very European vibe to it – do you find that?

 

TW:

Yes, I mean they have things out on the street, I mean that would never have been known back in the eighties……that whole idea was….anathema I think to people in Hebden Bridge.  There are less born and bred locals now than there used to be I think, because….of an older generation, well a lot of them have died basically and people….people who are here and have made some money, they’ve….a lot of gone to France or Spain or Portugal and that sort of thing to kind of retire because it’s nicer and the weather’s supposed to be nicer and it’s cheaper to live I think, or it used to be.

 

INTERVIEWER:

Where do you see yourself as an artist in five years’ time?  Where do you….have you ideas and goals that you want to go towards or do you just take it as a feeling ‘I’ll do it when I feel like it’ or do you have set….. ‘right we’re gonna start doing this then, that then’

 

TW:

I don’t…..think I have any goals as such….I just want to….between now and in five years’ time I just want to be able to start doing more artistic work, so I suppose it’s a goal to do more I suppose, and where that leads me I’ll have to find out

 

INTERVIEWER:

An adventure.

 

TW:

It is a bit, yeah.

 

INTERVIEWER:

I’m sort of running out of questions and stuff. [laughing]

 

TW:

Okay. 

 

INTERVIEWER:

I’ll have to frame this right.  Do you regard yourself, or have you always regarded yourself as someone who likes to create or to put yourself in that bracket, like ‘I am an artist and that’s…..there are’…..do you see what I’m trying to say?

 

TW:

Do I see…do I….my identity

 

INTERVIEWER:

As an artist

 

TW:

is as an artist, yes, I mean I think I’m a human being before I’m anything else…..but definitely I feel as if I am an artist, even though I’m in a hibernation period at the minute [laughing]

 

INTERVIEWER:

That’s not a bad thing

 

TW:

Well it’s not really because I’ve…..like I said I was so fed up with the art world and its bitchiness basically and I just turned off from it all…..I’ve got to a point now where it doesn’t bother me any more because I can, I can laugh at it, I can…

 

INTERVIEWER:

You can see the irony in it I suppose really.

 

TW:

Well there’s some irony yes, definitely, and it just…..it’s like water off a duck’s back now I think

 

INTERVIEWER:

Do you…..being your own artist, you have the ability to do your own thing and keep that foot out, one foot in the art world and one foot out, so you can step either way if you want to, so you don’t have to, I suppose tolerate the bitchiness and you, you can just do your own thing.  Is that something you’re aiming towards, or have you got already?

 

TW:

Well I don’t even have one foot in, I haven’t even hardly….I haven’t got a little toe in at the minute, apart from….just my own tiny little bubble when I do odd things every once in a while…..

 

INTERVIEWER:

You say you’re…..you’re doing stuff with nature now which I really love.  I like that…that principle of building something that’s gonna decay over time because it’s….everything decays but I think it’s got a certain beauty to it……why have you decided just…..or you’re aiming it towards nature.  Is that something that you’ve wanted to do for ages or

 

TW:

Well I always have….I mean I trained basically as a landscape painter, although I wildly veered off that into doing……people but I did used to do a lot of drawing of….animals and plants, so I suppose that’s part of nature, but it was a very kind of realistic type of artwork, but I used to experiment with….you know, collect mud and bits of leaves and pine needles and all that and make pictures out of those sort of things….just experimenting with…..rather than, you know, human made found objects, nature objects, and I used to create things that used to hang, you know, I used to spend hours sewing together seed pods and all sorts of weird and wonderful things, seaweed and feathers and God knows what, and they’d be like sculptures but they’d be hanging things, so I’ve always been involved in……in nature and using it in some kind of way…..and now because of….I suppose my….my beliefs; I’m very anti…..religion shall we say, or authority I suppose is another word for it

 

INTERVIEWER:

A man after my own heart. [laughing]

 

TW:

I want to…..have options of looking at things without being a member if you know what I mean.  If I want to look at you know…..the Christian religion, I want to look at it for what it is, not….I don’t want to be part of it, I don’t want to be a true believer and all the rest of it; I’ll look at it and see the good and the bad in it, and observe it and say ‘right, that part of it’s crap and that part of it’s really quite good actually’ and the same with political movements and……sort of keep my mind open

 

INTERVIEWER:

So you’re almost like a social commentator; you’re an independent…

 

TW:

Well, not so much a commentator, but an observer that I can then use into my own….little world and some people I suppose would say ‘right then you have a message to tell to others’ but it isn’t a message as such except for the fact that….you know, I want to have an open mind and observe this stuff and try and put it together creatively and then when you wanna look at it, I want you to be the same; I want you to be open minded and get out of it or not get out of it whatever you can

 

INTERVIEWER:

Again it’s putting something there and saying ‘right, I’m not telling you what to think.  You’ve got to make your own decisions and get what you want out of it’.

 

TW:

That sort of thing.  I mean the last big art piece I ever made way back was…..it was a series…..it was a whole series of images attached to a series of words, and the first word was ‘artist’ and I looked it up in the dictionary and I typed it all out, and then within that meaning of what the word ‘artist’ meant, I underlined one of those words, and the second word became, the word that was underlined, and I typed out its meaning, and I underlined one of the words in its meaning and so forth, and it led from artist to viewer through a series of about twenty-five or thirty words, and each had a different picture associated with it, and some were by me, and some were by little children that I’d worked with in school – there was a whole series of images – and that’s the kind of way I think about it, is that you know, what happened…..you know, from the artist to the viewer, a whole series of processes take shape and if you did it reverse-wise it would work the same really

 

INTERVIEWER:

So it’s one feeds back to the other isn’t it?

 

TW:

Well in a way yeah, so

 

INTERVIEWER:

If you do decide to start painting again, or sculptures, would you……would you…..would you want to show them, would you want to get them in galleries again or is it just for you, or is it……just for that satisfaction

 

TW:

No, really, I mean it’s…..I think I’d probably like to show them somewhere; I’m not exactly sure where…..I know like…..the Zen Masters used to, you know do their calligraphy, with wonderful calligraphy on scrolls and roll them up and keep them in drawers, but they’d only bring them out every blue moon to show another master – ‘oh see what I did eight years ago, isn’t that pretty good yeah?’

 

INTERVIEWER:

So it’s more of a personal journey

 

TW:

But that’s still showing it to your own audience, you know, your Zen Master audience right, well I’m not in that category but…..it seems, I mean I can sit and write poems, you know, or write stories or…..or dance around my living room all the time and no-one would ever know I did any of that

 

INTERVIEWER:

 

Please tell me you do.

 

TW:

I do dance around my living room, but that’s beside the point!  But if you’re creating something physical, it seems to me as if……are you gonna just stack it in the corner and…..and then it gathers dust and…..I suppose that’s just as valid and eventually it just rots away and that’s the end of it and so what?  It’s just like human beings, we’ll kill ourselves off or the ants will take over and we’ll be like the dinosaurs, we’ll be gone, and the earth will continue for more millions and billions of years, and artwork’s similar really, but I….I kind of have this idea of, well, if I go to the trouble of making it, maybe I ought to share it you know

 

INTERVIEWER:

That’s what I think  you….if you are going to create again, judging by your paintings and that, they deserve to be shown, me and Sam, we love the black and white stuff.  I love the stuff……where is it…..I love these with the trees, I just think they’re amazing

 

TW:

They’re trees of life

 

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah they’re absolutely amazing, and again dug the Peruvian… 

 

TW:

Well that one….I did a series of birth, life and death.  That’s the death one actually [laughing]

 

INTERVIEWER:

That style of…..of painting is….is…..it’s…I don’t know how to put it…..it’s sort of real and not real if you know what I mean; it’s got that……the longer you look at it the more you see, the more it gets you thinking about what’s actually in there; that’s…..at a quick glance it’s just a bloke, but it’s not, there’s more there.  You look at the expressions on the face….yeah, I really think you should display your paintings mate to be honest.

 

TW:

Well maybe I will…..maybe I’ll take up your…..advice and try and

 

INTERVIEWER:

Don’t take my advice – you’re damned if you do! [laughing].  I’m taking responsibility for nothing!  Just one more last question really for me.  Do you think that your art has been influenced by living in Hebden Bridge?  Your thoughts….your creative juice, has it got it flowing again……so if you’ve been here since ’87….cos it’s quite insular, Hebden Bridge, it’s different from the towns down the road – it’s just got this vibe to it, and that…..has that played any….

 

TW:

Well in a wider sense, yes……because of the landscape really, but not just that, I mean a lot of my pictures…..when I first lived in Hebden were to do with…..partly to do with the birth of my son, and I’ve always been inspired by mythology and….a kind of…..a spirituality I suppose, whether it is a kind of wiccan thing or a cultish sort of thing, so I have created…..pictures to do with those kinds of stories, and lots of mythological stories are about what they would call a hero, but usually heroes are a child who then progresses through into manhood, so I painted pictures or I…..created things that were to do with those kinds of stories, and I saw Hebden Bridge as the stage where all that happened, cos I used to do a lot of walking and you can go up and see Mesolithic stuff and Neolithic stuff and Bronze Age stuff on the tops, and then as you kind of like walk down to the bottoms you just get closer and closer to contemporary times, so I see this small little place as a kind of…..age, an epic, a place where, you know, all kinds of things can go on

 

INTERVIEWER:

And have gone on…

 

TW:

Yeah, so it’s inspired me…..in thinking, reinforcing the stuff that I was into….and finding little spots all over different parts of the valley where I can identify then with certain stages of these stories and therefore try to create pictures…..that had to do with those really, and music has always been a part of my life so I started trying to draw music into it……so I did a whole series of pictures about musicians and there is a lot of music goes on in Hebden Bridge…..so really…..Hebden Bridge has a big influence because of the way that it is, and because I’ve been living here and I’m just reacting to my environment really.

 

INTERVIEWER:

It seems to be not only a beautiful place, it seems to be…a smelting pot for….for….I used the word widely….people with artistic inspiration and talent, it’s….there are a lot of people here and that must influence you because you’re not only…..not only….mixing with the countryside, you’re also mixing with the people that are here, and it’s quite inspirational

 

TW:

Yeah there’s a lot of creative people so you can have very weird and wonderful conversations about….just about anything really

 

INTERVIEWER:

I’ve seen you a lot in the pub – I’ve seen lots of weird and wonderful conversations. [laughing]  That’s it for me Tony.

 

TW:

Okay that’s fine, that’s fine.  Finished now?

 

[END OF TRACK ONE]

About Us

Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

Get in touch

Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge
HX7 8DG

Phone: 01422 844450
Contact Us