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Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

I'm originally from London born and bred and am still living here! London is so full of things to see and do - its a source of constant inspiration, from the British Museum and the Natural History Museum to the hundreds of galleries.

What's your background as an artist?

I've always been drawn towards art, enjoying the expression of a line or the feeling of a painting. I am very influenced by my family, my parents being jewellers as well as several artists in the family. Going to visit my grandparents really influenced me as their house was full of pictures and sculptures my grandfather made. I like work that draws you in to reflect on the world. I try to allow my subconscious to direct my work. I have developed innate patterns and free form drawings for many years. I like to experiment and work very intuitively so emotion often leads my direction. I have spent much of my practice so far creating imagined life forms that reflect on the new discoveries in the natural world and how our knowledge of what life is constantly evolves and changes.

Mandrill 1

You attended Central Saint Martins. The school has a great reputation, but what's it actually like to attend art school there?

It was a great experience where people created and collaborated together. I was in the old building which had so much history, right in the centre of London. I loved working in the studios which had a view over the rooftops of the city. It was exciting to be in a place that offered so many possibilities, it felt like there was nothing you couldn't do from people bringing wolves into the final show to drilling holes through the entire building to pour treacle through.

Native American

You've recently painted portraits of mandrills, Native Americans and a Papua New Guinean. I see a theme of curiosity about foreign, exotic worlds. Why do you think you chose these particular subjects?

I have always been interested in the evolution of life and have a slight obsession with David Attenborough documentaries. I am fascinated by the way things look and how life has formed into so many different variations. I am drawn to the way people adorn themselves as an extension of their reality and place in the world and the way people reflect their environment. In opposition to the urban landscape I want to look at the people that are still living within nature. I feel strongly that the connection between man and nature is important and paint the mandrills as I see them as sharing many qualities that do not separate us, that all life forms are equal and sentient. I want to explore the otherness of the world and am curious about the way things are.

Papua New Guinean

Tell us about your interest in early forms of portrait photography.

I am particularly fascinated by the alchemical and magical nature of photography. I like the ethereal quality of daguerreotypes that require a very long exposure on silver plates. The photographs are like time machines transporting the image of another time to the present. The light is a source of image making and I wanted to translate this into paint in a way that reflected on transience.

What else are you working on? What's next for you?

I am doing a residency at the moment and am working towards a solo show at The Muse gallery in the autumn. I also have two paintings of Native Americans showing in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition so am continuing make similar work in my studio.


Back to the show!

Coral's website.

Learn about Mandrills on Wikipedia.