Featured Artist: June Faulkner
Versatile artist June Faulkner is a “What happens if..?” kind of person.
With a body of work stretching from painting and photography to dyeing and screen-printing on fabric, she is always ready to experiment with colour, light, texture and medium to see what happens. Artists who feel their work is stuck in a rut should find her get-up-and-go approach inspiring. Fiona Gaskell finds out how she does it.
Despite a natural inclination for what June calls “doodling”, she didn’t relate to art lessons at school and she started her working life as a secretary. She had an offer to study at Hornsey College of Art, but didn’t take it up for a mixture of reasons including lack of confidence. She worked in arts organisations, including the Arts Council of Great Britain, where she found herself typing drama reviews, and the Gulbenkian Foundation, processing applications for arts grants.
Her interest in art didn’t go away, and while her children were growing up she went to several art classes.
Then in the 90s she took Art A level, followed it up with a Foundation course at Barnet College and moved on to the University of Hertfordshire. June graduated with B.A. (Hons.) in Art and Design in 2000 and is now an established artist.
At university June discovered the devoré technique for working on fabric. This involves etching fibres from fabric using chemicals.
She used the technique with surprising results in a triptych of 8-foot panels, which she displayed in her final university exhibition, alongside photographs and scarves
“First I took photos of footprints and patterns in sand at the beach” explains June, “then I reversed the photos to create images that appears abstract. These images were printed on fabric, which created the sheer finished pieces. The final result looks almost Japanese.”
June is very impulsive in the way she works. She invariably has a sketchbook and pen to hand, and she is always taking photos of whatever interests her, such as the oily film on the top of a bucket of water or a fox at the bottom of her garden. It is not surprising that she is attracted to Picasso’s tongue-in-cheek collages, as playfulness is characteristic of her work. She finds pictures in puddles, and she is proud of a photo she took of a muddy puddle in Australia surrounded by chicken wire. This apparently uninspiring subject resulted in a picture that looks like a mysterious woodland scene.
A theme in June’s work is finding out what can be taken away from an image to create the best effect. In her hand-painted silk scarves she sometimes uses photographic imagery, both adding and taking colour away creating a layered effect.
A substantial project that June is very proud of is the Garden Room at Barnet General Hospital. This room and garden space was initiated by the Kings Fund to create a restful and beautiful space for relatives of patients at the end of their lives, enabling these families to escape from the hustle and bustle of the hospital wards. June was commissioned to create a signature image, almost like a logo, which was a devoré English rose. This symbol was used as a base for the design for etched glass doors and it was repeated in devoré sheers to go in the windows. June became very involved in the project, and now works as a volunteer helping in the Garden Room.
During our conversation June starts thinking aloud about her plans for her work: “I need to start working on bigger pieces, and that way I can start to work more with interior design. I feel that people take bigger pieces more seriously. I should put myself out there as I haven’t really pushed myself.” Most readers may feel that June is already an example to other artists in her determination to explore and progress in her art and to try new creative approaches. “I would like to do more painting on a bigger scale” she says, “using oils, which are my first love dating back to adult education classes in Barnet. My university tutor said I often had too many ideas, and needed to focus and work out the best option.”
Her favourite place to work is outside in the garden, where she can lay out really big pieces for screen-printing, and she has a studio at home, which she shares with her partner, who is a model-maker. Outdoors she finds the greatest inspiration for her work.
June is a keen supporter of HVA and a member of the textile group. She always participates in Open Studios, selling handmade cards and silk scarves as well as paintings and collages. The Silk Painters Guild is another group June belongs to, and she is really enthusiastic about encouraging everyone to have a go at silk painting when she is demonstrating at craft events. She has recently had work at the East Finchley Open Craft event, she has exhibited at the Upstairs Gallery and Parndon Mill, and she has work at the Palace Green Gallery at Hatfield House. Future projects planned include a Southgate open studios exhibition in June this year, organised by Creative Exchange. This involves shops and other businesses displaying artwork, all within easy walking distance of each other. She is very interested in a forthcoming project that she has heard about through HVA: the Milton Keynes hospital exhibition for the Shoosmiths prize. Find out more about this project in the Opportunities section of the HVA site.
Contact June on 07949 456838
By FIONA GASKELL