'Positive energy influences people'

We chat to artist Andrew Sutherland about where he’s travelled, where he’s going next, his sources for inspiration, and his future projects

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Were you hooked on art as a kid? 

I loved art class as a child and I had an amazing art teacher who encouraged me as best she could. I remember feeling as if I had found something I was good at for the first time. She just made me want to keep getting better at it. I think, in a strange way, that whole experience got me to where I am today. It just shows how positive energy can influence people. Thanks, teacher.  

Where did you further your studies?

I studied at Visual Arts at the Ruth Prowse School of Art in Woodstock, Cape Town.

You’ve been in Taiwan for a couple years. What took you there?

I went to the UK about three years ago because I was getting too comfortable in Cape Town and I needed to venture out. I thought England was where I wanted to be, but it didn’t meet my expectations. Plus it always rained. I made my way to Taiwan to see my girlfriend, who was working there. I was planning to stay for only two months but enjoyed it so much that I kept prolonging my visit, and ended up living there for a year and a half. It was an incredible experience both from an inspiration point of view and for the culture. Probably the best trip I’ve been on so far and I’m pretty sure I’ll head back at some point in the future. I’d recommend Taiwan to anyone feeling stuck in a rut.

Where do you plan to go next?

I feel like discovering more of Africa. When I stepped off the plane in Cape Town, the first thing I noticed was the space—we’re surrounded by it here. Space is something Taiwan doesn’t have. It’s bustling and dense. 

I would like to travel around Africa and take it in a bit more, then build an exhibition around that.

Tell us a bit about your artistic process. How does it all come together?

I’m a process-driven artist. I find a method or theme and explore it until it runs its course, then I move on. 

For my latest show, Other Dust, I created a body of work that made use of archival photographs, postcards and memorabilia. I had been collecting old images for years, and finally found a purpose for them. 

I began by combining two or more photographs to create a new image I’d then paint onto paper or canvas. The idea behind extracting elements found within these references was to create new stories from old worlds that could then be interpreted in their own way by the viewer. It was a great process for me. I found the use of old material extremely interesting, and I enjoyed the results.  

 Are you working on a new project at the moment?

I have a few projects in the pipeline—a few new pieces focusing on landscapes rather than figures. I’ve always used figures to portray emotion, but I want to move away from that idea and try a different approach. I’m interested in playing with colour and shape, and getting a bit more abstract.

I also have a collaboration project in the works with artists Paul Senyol and Andrzej Urbanski. I think we’ll aim to get a show together next year sometime. I can’t really say much more, but keep yours eyes and ears open…

What don’t people know about you?

I’m colour blind.

Andrew likes to spend as much of his free time as possible out in the fresh air. He enjoys rock climbing, lying around on beaches, and painting, of course.