Anna Masters is a London-based visual artist, whose extensive work ranges from large-scale installations to detailed and realist paintings.
Consistent throughout Anna’s practice is a sensitivity towards material and form; whether working on a large, hanging installation or painting tiny insects, there is a tenderness and attention to detail which is both recognisable and consistent throughout her portfolio. The works centre on repetitive (almost obsessive) processes, which she finds both infuriating and therapeutic! Often notable within her work is a sense of temporality and displacement, whilst the delicate nature of her works allow her to employ light, pattern and texture as integral subjects within the work.
Her installations employ natural materials, suspended mid-air in a snap-shot of an inexplicable moment in time. Similarly, her paintings employ such a degree of detail and study that they become almost impossibly still; though realist, the static nature of the works removes them from the natural order of life and the movement of time.
In 2010, she delved into public art, creating The Elephant in the Room as part of Elephant Parade, London; which went on to become London's largest outdoor art event on record. The Parade was organised by conservation charity, Elephant Family, the UK’s biggest funder for the endangered Asian elephant. Anna has continued to work with Elephant Family on subsequent projects, including Jungle City 2011 in Edinburgh, and The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt, now live in London.
The first event of its kind, The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt aims to raise vital funds for charities Action for Children and Elephant Family, inviting tourists, locals and visitors to join in a truly magical experience. Over 200 eggs, hand-crafted by artists and designers around the country, have been placed around London to be hunted down as part of the largest egg hunt on record. Anna’s creation, When I Grow Up, can be found in the Carnaby Street area of London until 13th April, after which it will be auctioned to raise money for the charities. Her design sees the 2ft fibreglass egg transformed by beautiful peacock feathers. The design is intended to evoke a sense of hope and ambition for the future; this unhatched egg has the potential to hatch into a peacock, symbolic of immortality and the ability to thrive in the face of suffering. The title, When I Grow Up, is reminiscent of the statement made by children of their dreams for the future. However, it also reminds us of dreams and aspirations which often go unfulfilled, and there is a sense that this egg may not hatch into the peacock in the design.
What were your ambitions and aspirations at the age of 26?
At 26, I was torn between continuing my career in Arts Management and pursuing the dream of practicing my artwork full-time. I’m results-driven, which made the decision to become a full-time artist a difficult one; I felt that I was delving into the unknown as an artist, without a clear idea of what, if anything I would achieve. So my ambitions were rather modest – to work hard and hopefully scrape a living doing the work that I loved.
Pick a word beginning with the letter 'E' that best sums you up.
For each letter of the alphabet pick a word followed by a sentence that inspires you.
From a visual perspective, it’s one of the most interesting subjects there is.
I never have enough brushes. It drives me mad!
If you take away the cringe-factor, one of the most beautiful and interesting creatures there is. Seriously.
I need distance to see things clearly; both physically and emotionally. It can be difficult to obtain though.
My friends never fail to inspire me.
I try to do something good every day, whether it’s good work or being good to others. I can forget to be good to myself sometimes, but I love the feeling of knowing that something good has come of the day. Today I am being good to the spider who I am allowing to take shelter in my home.
See J: Jelly
I have an intimate relationship with my work; I spend days trying to understand form and studying the tiniest details of a subject.
Jelly makes me happy!
Some things should be kept; others shouldn’t.
In fact, all the emotions. They can change your outlook, your direction.
If I couldn’t paint, I’d be pretty happy with a maths problem or a spreadsheet.
Nature is the most prevalent subject in my work. It can be beautiful and ugly at the same time.
I love the tensions in nature, the patterns and the sense of incomprehensibility.
It’s the exceptions that always stand out; there’s no fun in conformity.
I’m always drawn to patterns; it features strongly in my work and the way that I create compositions.
Speed is not one of my strong points. I take my time.
I often use random number generators to inform my work. I like having an aspect of the work which is uncontrolled, especially when the processes I employ are controlled to the extreme.
Sometimes, sometimes not.
I think time is an under-utilised resource. My work is always better for the time invested in it. I see little point in rushing.
I love subtlety; things that stand the test of time and ongoing scrutiny.
I’ve been reading up about vampire finches – I’m desperate to find a way to bring them into my work. They live on the Galápagos Islands and drink the blood of other birds.
I do love my work, and I will do it well into the night if I’m caught up in something. I sometimes have to set myself alarms to remember to leave the studio.
It’s an African frog. Very handy in a game of Scrabble!
You or me? I’m not sure.
I read fairly widely on zoology –
I don’t consider myself very knowledgeable about it, but it often takes my artistic ideas in new directions. If I get stuck for ideas, I’ll read up on zoology more often than art.
WORDS & INTERVIEW / Kevin Langridge