Interview with Andrew Hood by First Contemporary Gallery

The Italian Connection

Travelling Artist Andrew Hood explores Italy in his latest series as he returns to his home town Edinburgh for the 10th anniversary of its prestigious Art Fair

Bristol based painter Andrew Hood, known for his vivid abstract street scenes, likes to spend time painting abroad every year gathering fresh perspectives and new ideas.

“I like to go somewhere and soak up an entirely different atmosphere”, he explains, “and tend to do it on my own… it’s nice to go with someone but you get a lot more painting done without distractions.”

There’s one country that keeps luring him back: Italy. So far, his travels have taken him to Rome, Tuscany, Venice and Sicily. “For me, Italy is about just being there and having the opportunity to observe a different way of life. There’s a lot of subject matter for an artist from the more obvious beautiful architecture to the secluded villages a little off the beaten track. It’s the smells, the heat, the pace of life that inspire me. Oh, and the food! I love the food and the culture that is so often based around eating and the family.”

This year Hood found his way to the medieval walled city of Lucca and stayed in a friendly, family-run B&B that proved the perfect base for exploring some of Italy’s most captivating scenery.

“The colours there are different to places I’ve painted before. There are washed out earth colours, siennas, umbers and ochres against a back drop of the sun drenched Tuscan countryside.  And it’s very quiet once you leave the city. I tend to try and hide away when I’m painting outside, just so I can get on with it, so I was fascinated by these calm, almost suburban areas that were remote and a little bit unusual.”

From the sketches he produced there, he’s created 10 paintings for display at the upcoming Edinburgh Art Fair. “It’s all very well painting a picturesque place,” he concedes, “but the challenge is making something more interesting and getting the viewer to see something beyond the surface of the paint, so with this series of work I’ve really pushed myself. Many of the pieces have had several lives. I’ve worked and reworked them to try and give them a depth and luminosity that’s so evident in this part of Italy.”

The final paintings are very different to the quick sketches he made on location. “The drawings are quite simple, quite scruffy in a way. I sketch in pen, maybe with a little bit of watercolour, but I like to keep it simple.

“Then when I’m back in the studio I do a bit more sketching, develop an idea with a small painting, and then finally start the bigger painting all the time trying to keep the spontaneity I experienced when I was on location. That’s what’s working at the moment, anyway.”

First Contemporary will be showing Andrew’s work at the Edinburgh Art Fair, 14th-16th November. For more information about the fair, please visit their website by clicking here. To see more of Andrew’s work, visit our website by clicking here. For updates from First Contemporary, please visit our Twitter and Facebook pages.

 – Interview by Hannah Stuart-Leach

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About jamaicastreetartists

Jamaica Street Artists is one of the largest artist-lead studios outside of London and has been established for over 15 years. The studio is housed in a grade ii listed former carriageworks, an iconic landmark in Bristol. Jamaica Street Artists is a unique and ambitious collective, holding an annual Open Studio and planning an exciting programme for the year ahead. In the past we have held group exhibitions at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery and St George's, Bristol, and individual artists continue to find success exhibiting across the UK and abroad. Over the past year Jamaica Street Artists has run a dynamic fundraising campaign to safeguard our future, a new lease has now been secured, but the long-term aim remains to purchase the building in partnership. Looking towards the future Jamaica Street Artists plan to build on their success, continuing to contribute to Bristol's creative and cultural reputation and promoting the work of its artists.

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