Meet the Artist | Jonny Bainbridge | Opening Night | The Spaces Between Exhibition
*Join us on Good Friday, Friday 15th April from 7pm – 9pm for our opening night of Jonny Bainbridge’s solo exhibition, The Spaces Between’. All welcome.*
It’s always a pleasure to see Jonny and just chat about art and life. He’s had the most incredible year and we’re thrilled to have him exhibiting with us again before he takes London by storm. And then New York? The Moon? I feel like we’re seeing Jonny as he’s just getting started. The work in his new exhibition, The Spaces Between, is inspired by unseen forces and I wanted to delve a bit deeper into what that means to him.
Abstract by Jonny Bainbridge
Pom Pom Flowers painting by Jonny Bainbridge
Qu: The work in the exhibition is Inspired by unseen forces. Did it start out as an idea you wanted to explore, or is it much deeper than that? Because it sounds deep!
Jonny: A bit of both really but think the bigger picture goes a bit deeper maybe. The older I get, I am constantly and ever more increasingly aware of ‘a something’ that permeates everything that I see and feel in the world around me. an energy that never fully reveals either itself or it’s mechanisms to us, but it is always there, making connections, creating and killing, communicating and teasing by invisible and intangible means. There always feels like there is something right there, in the space between me and everything else, A place where the real magic is happening. A bit like dark matter maybe . That empty void between the stars from which the stars themselves are born. I feel it everywhere. I spend a lot of time wandering the local forests and this awareness is super acute during these times. The absolute power of nature overwhelms me at time.
But I also see and feel this energy in us, in the decisions we make, how we interact and communicate both ourselves and others. since the birth of humanoids, and pre language, humanoids, and indeed all animals, have been communicating. Body language and eye contact convey so much information, mood and emotion and they do this despite the absolute lack of words. Is it telepathy. I think it is. Are we transmitting energy waves that our human senses cannot detect but some part of our primordial selves fully perceive and understand. I think we are. It’s like one of those little scar things we have on our eyes that as we try to look at it, the more we try to focus on it, the more it moves out of direct sight. A religious man might perceive these feelings as God. I’m not a religious man tho definitely feel an acute spirituality.
At 56 years old, I’m obviously no spring chicken but there are times I feel like I’ve just been born or am in the absolute wide eyed spring of my life. However pervading this, paradoxically, there are times when I feel that my actual soul is for sure, ancient beyond time. Like I’ve lived a thousand lives in a thousand lifetimes. It’s difficult to explain but I trust this primordial instinct implicitly. I also feel it’s coming to an end somehow so whether this is because I’m finally going to escape from Samsara or gonna get hit by a bus I can’t tell 🙂 lols
Qu: Creating new work is obviously a massive part of being an artist but do you ever feel pressure to produce new work for social media?
Jonny: I think I have felt this from time to time. It’s great to get feedback from new work but I think there is a danger that we can fall into the notion that we need to have something new constantly, to seek constant approval to validate our work. It’s easy to see how this might limit the freedom to experiment and explore new ideas because of the need to produce new work constantly and quickly. The attention span of any post is as fleeting as the day is short. It’s a tricky one as social media is pretty much ‘the go to for self promotion as well as discovering new artists and inspiration but I think it’s important to be able to step back and understand that although it is amazing for these reasons, it shouldn’t become the driving force in the process of creating, That said tho, if it helps anyone create anything, then that can only be a good thing. As always with social media, it’s as good as it is evil.
Moss Garden painting by Jonny Bainbridge
Qu: What element of you (e.g. spirituality/ sensitivity / curiosity etc) if it just went, would completely change your ability to make art?
Jonny: Lots spring to mind but if I had to narrow it down I might have to say my sense of curiosity and connectivity to life. I seem have developed a relentless drive to attempt to reflect and make manifest experiences by whatever means I can. Half the time I have no idea where this drive comes from and sometimes feel I’m being pushed or pulled in a million directions at once. It’s overwhelming at times and properly twists my melon. I think this is why I don’t adhere to any particular style of art and am happy to drift and experiment with styles, mediums and techniques as this drive pushes me.
Jonny at home
Qu: What do you think about the stereotype of artists needing to be depressed to be truly creative?
Jonny: I don’t think it’s a need to be solely depressed per se, but I definitely think the creative process can often be such an intensely and obsessive experience, it can open the door to many mindsets that you might not expect. I think this can sometimes open yourself up so much that it allows in all manner of thoughts and feelings in to run riot. Both positive and negative in extremes. I find creating to be immensely challenging at times and often feel I pushed myself so far from my comfort zone that I can’t remember the way back. So I go forward and if depression and frustration manifest as part of this journey, then so be it. I’ll take it, but it isn’t all hearts and flowers by any means and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I make a point of beginning every painting with a solid black and moody background. with my most recent work, I have been intentionally embedding ideas, usually of a darker nature, deep in the painting then as the work progresses, I seal these ideas in so they are barely visible at the end but i know they are there and I know how important their role is in the painting. they themselves inhabit the invisible spaces between the more obvious aspects of the work.
A glass of flowers painting by Jonny Bainbridge
Qu: If you could have any living artist or one from history as your mentor – who would it be and what’s the first question you’d ask them?
Jonny: I’ve been reading a book recently called ‘The mind in the cave’. Its about the cave art and artists of the upper palaeolithic period. We’re talking about art that was created 100’s thousands of years ago. Basically the book focuses on the people who made this art and asks the question, why .. Sometimes they travelled for miles underground to the deepest recesses of these caves and there, created such beautiful and breath taking imagery and all the while, must have been fully aware that this work would probably never be seen by anyone ever. Although this begs the question why, I can kind of see, feel and understand the urge to do this. I have volumes of my own writing, poems and short stories that I have no desire to ever show anyone, and I’m happy with that. But it does raise the questions as to why we, as humans and artists, do things like this.
but to answer the question, I would like to call back a cave painter from 400,00 BC and my first question would be, ‘fancy a pint, I’ve got something I’d like to ask you’
Detail from The Great Mother painting by Jonny Bainbridge
Qu: We’re very happy to have you exhibit with us again. More of a statement than a question. But after the 28th when ‘The Spaces Between’ finishes, you’re straight onto Frome and then London. What’s after London? …there’s the question!
Jonny: I’m absolutely stoked to be at Spacecraft nearly a year after my first one. That is where it all started for me. It’s been quite a year and I have to say the least. I can’t overstate how much of a game changer that was for me. I’ll always be super grateful to Ali and Luca for giving me that opportunity. It literally changed everything. the feedback from the exhibition was such that a week after the exhibition, I quit my teaching job, severed all safety nets, ditched my parachute and jumped over the edge into being a full time creative. It’s been a mad year and I still pinch myself at what is actually happening, I’m not exactly buying flashy bikes or jetting off to space but I’m still alive and creating and absolutely loving it all so I’ll absolutely take that. so moving forward, straight after the Spacecraft exhibition I’m setting up at the Frome Art Fair for a few days then a few weeks after that, I have my first ever pieces being on show as part of an exhibition in London!! That still hasn’t sunk in yet I don’t think. So I feel charged abd ready and I’m just gonna keep doing what I ‘m doing and always seek to aim higher and higher each time. Even if I can’t actually see what it is I’m aiming for.
In this life the ride can end at any given moment. We are literally only a heartbeat away from any possibility. I aim to be firmly immersed and engaged in my pursuit to absorb and reflect life back onto itself and to spend as much time as possible in the spaces between.
For this is where the real magic happens.
You can follow Jonny Bainbridge on instagram @jonny.b.art
And we look forward to welcoming you to the opening night on Friday.