‘Life inspires me; people, places, travels, stories, and memories.’
This time, in ‘Under the Spotlight’ we have had the immense pleasure of talking to Linda Bernhard, a local artist with strong links to Switzerland. Her collage work is unconventional and sometimes unsettling but never mundane, she takes ordinary printed pieces and her own photographs to create images based on personal experiences.
Do you have positive/negative memories of art when you were at school?
There are definitely more positive memories than negative ones. Art was the subject I always enjoyed the most; hands-on learning, experimenting with various materials/techniques and the teachers were usually a lot more ‘easy-going’ too!
What would your school report have said about your art?
Creative perfectionist, slow worker.
Did you go on to further education in art or are you self-taught?
I think I spent a total of 11 years in art education! I did everything, from a top up year at a ‘Berufswahlschule’- a school that teaches tradesman skills in the fields of paint, wood, stone and metal – to an apprenticeship as wood turner, BA (Hons) in Sculpture, PGCE and more recently a Masters in Fine Art. You won’t get me to do a PHD though.
What or who has inspired you over the years?
Life inspires me; people, places, travels, stories, and memories. I’m very receptive of my surroundings and the people around me have an enormous impact on how I think, act and ultimately, create.
Coming from a different background – I grew up in Switzerland and moved to England when I was 21 – also has an influence in my art and the way I work. Being at ‘home’ in two different countries (I regularly go back to Switzerland to visit family) gives me the opportunity to draw inspiration from both cultures.
What Artists do you admire?
A few examples from an endless list: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Peter Blake, Ashkan Honarvar, Jessica Stockholder, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Andreas Gursky, Sanda Anderlon, Gordon Matta-Clark, Sophie Calle, Ron Vander Ende, and Sinead Leonard
What is your favourite piece of work (yours and someone else)?
I don’t really have a favourite piece of work. There are some that I prefer to others, and that I won’t ever want to sell, but I can’t pick a favourite. However, I have two favourite art pieces by other artists – Volatile 1980–94 by Cildo Meireles and Shibboleth by Doris Salcedo.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far? What are you proud to have achieved?
I’ve been on an amazing creative roll ever since I’ve graduated from my MA in September 2013. I’ve managed to find the perfect balance between work, studio time and social life. Having a proper studio space (I am a resident artist at Worthing Art Studios) definitely helped with this. I go to the studio most evenings after work, which allows me to keep a ‘flow’ and consistency in my work that was missing before. I’m proud of this. I’m also proud to have had work in the Tate Britain as part of the BP Open Source Collage &Texture display!
What have you sacrificed for your art?
Money? Apart from that I don’t think I had/have to sacrifice anything.
What’s the best bit of advice that has been given to you?
There’s space for everyone in the art world. There are nearly 8billion people on this planet, someone will like your work! That’s when I started to believe in myself as an artist.
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist/craftsperson?
Network, share, interact, keep at it, think outside the box, use criticism to your advantage, stay focussed, stay motivated, be original and innovative, research and most importantly, never give up.
How do you start a piece of work?
It varies. Sometimes I have a plan, sometimes I don’t. But I always work on 3-4 collages simultaneously. When one is finished, I swap it with a new blank background. The main sources for my collages are my own photographs. Whenever I go somewhere my camera comes with me. I document what I see and experience, and then use these images as a basis for new work. I also get images given by friends, students and work colleagues, or I find old photographs in charity shops and at car boot sales.
When is it finished?
When it ‘feels’ finished?
Do you have a mantra, quote or line from a song that best sums up what your art means to you?
Yes, I love this quote by Gursky: ‘As a person who primarily experiences his environment visually, I am always observing my immediate surroundings. Consequently, I am constantly putting things in order, sorting them out, until they become a whole.’ (Gursky, 2001)
Does music help with your creativity? If so what would you choose to listen to whilst working on a piece?
I usually have the radio on in the background. My highlights are Simon Mayo’s (Radio 2) daily confessions stories.
What is your favourite medium to work with/in?
Whatever I can get my hands on really! I love them all. But my current favourites are definitely paper, glue, scalpel and scissors.
Are you living your dream through your art or do you have one – what do you strive for?
Getting there! I count myself very lucky; for having a studio space that is accessible 24/7, for having a supportive family and awesomely creative friends around me, and for having a job that I love and that inspires me every day. My long term goal is to spend more time in my studio, and less behind my desk.
Is there anything you avoid with your art?
To complicate things.