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"Watch this Space" - An Interview with artist Nancy Upshall

Nancy Upshall
Nancy Upshall
Originally published 3 February 2004

Kay Rainsley, Continuing Education, recently sat down with Nancy Upshall to speak about her forthcoming exhibition in the University Library Gallery.

Spaces, gaps, intervals, negatives, positives, silence and sound; Nancy Upshall introduced me to her new collection of paintings and prints. I was intrigued by her ideas of manipulating space and dimension through the use of colour and techniques. We looked through a range of works which held a combination of relief and intaglio printing, blind embossing and mixed media.

Nancy’s fascination with words and meaning is translated into a plethora of design and colour. The weaving of words into the pieces tied reality to the surreal. I listened to the artist as she explained the ‘comfort blanket’ fashioned from paper, given texture by dishcloths pressed into the malleable form and coloured to give a patchwork effect. I touched it and Nancy smiled, ‘I want people to be able to touch this piece’ so it won’t be totally covered. The addition of some ear phones represented how young people wrap themselves in their ‘comfort blanket’ of sound, oblivious to the world outside of their own.

All of the work was completed during Nancy’s term as artist in residence at Coventry University last year. The work was sponsored by the National Artists Access to Art Colleges Scheme.

What got you into art?

I suppose it was a good art teacher who pushed me to get a scholarship to Reading University. I had already received a junior art scholarship in Dorset.

How long have you been teaching for Open Studies?

I was one of the first tutors to teach for Open Studies after Warwick took the area over from Birmingham University back in the 70s.

How many students do you think you’ve taught over the years?

Oh 100s – I can always remember faces and the students’ work but not always their names.

What is your favourite piece of artwork by someone else?

I’m particularly interested in the colourists like Howard Hodgekins and Bonnard and Vuillard.

What is your favourite piece of your own artwork?

Always the latest project. There are some pieces that I wouldn’t part with, for example the portrait of my husband but not that many.

What inspired your latest exhibition?

I like to look at what isn’t there, for example, gaps, spaces and voids. I looked at the stones in the wall of the Abbey Gate in Kenilworth and the railings and then turned the resultant image through 90 degrees to achieve a more pleasing result for one piece.

Where do you intend to go from here?

Just carry on. Previous exhibitions have been entitled ‘Still travelling’ and ‘Another part of the journey’.

Nancy’s exhibition will be on show from 16th February to 12th March in the Library Gallery on Central Campus at the University of Warwick. There will also be a talk, given by Nancy, on her work on 26th February at 7.00 p.m. in the Gallery.