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Spotlight: Chris Vervain - Artist and Studio Holder at The Margate School

Chris Vervain in her Artist Studio at The Margate School
Chris Vervain in her Artist Studio at The Margate School

Tell me a little bit about your background and what originally inspired you in your practice...

I have a BA in Fine Art from Hertfordshire University, but I was also interested in physical theatre, dance and masks, and a lot of my work has been with actors, dancers and musicians creating mask theatre.

As a child I enjoyed acting and disguise; the idea that you can become a different person for a while.  Dancing was also important to me, and my favourite class in primary school was one called Music and Movement in which we enacted stories to music - a good early training for dance theatre.  All of this has inspired my visual art work.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I’m doing a lot of painting - mostly acrylic on canvas - and finding ideas by revisiting some of my earlier drawings and paintings; work that I wasn’t happy with at the time but wasn’t sure where to take it. Now I feel I have a clearer vision of what was and is needed.

When you’re not practicing your art, how do you spend your time?

I love walking along the sea front, solving killer sudoku puzzles, and listening to broadcasts on philosophy.

If you could name only one, what would be the highlight of your journey in your practice?

An extraordinary set of circumstances took me into the world of academe for a while. It was incredibly informative, a great boost to my confidence and self esteem and opened up opportunities that I never imagined would be available to me. It enabled me to ‘find’ myself.

Anastasia Tory working on a new, mixed media piece from her artist studio at The Margate School

What is your advice for someone looking to start out in your field?

My advice to anyone thinking of working in any creative field would start with some basic questions; do you want to be successful commercially or do you feel an overwhelming need to express yourself in art? If the answer is the latter, then I would say go for it! Don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.  Don’t be suppressed by fancy theories, or criticism.  If necessary start by producing ‘bad’ art - get it out into the world.  It is a primeval force within you - respect it!

If you weren’t an artist what do you think you would be?

A zombie!

Do you have any exhibitions / workshops etc that people can get involved with?

I have an exhibition at The Margate Gallery called “Dancing with Masks” which opens on 5th March. Myself and another mask maker at The Margate School are also thinking of running a mask making workshop in the summer that will be open to all but we still have to work out the details on that one.

A Portrait of Anastasia Tory | Ceramicist and Studio Holder at The Margate School

Any last thoughts for our readers?

In my experience the world is a far more mysterious place than people usually like to acknowledge.  Often the best way forward is not through stress and striving, thinking we have the right answer and just need will power enough to impose it. Often it’s better if we can quieten down that part that clamours for instant solutions and be alert, listening, making ourselves open to the more subtle messages that the Universe is sending us. Then unimagined vistas might open up in front of us together with the courage to explore new pathways.

Get in touch

If you'd like to get in touch with Chris Vervain about any of her works, exhibitions or commissions, please visit her Instagram or website.



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