Each month we choose one of the great artists represented on our website to be our Artist of the Month. This month, it's Pinkie Maclure, who creates beautifully dark but humorous stain glass pieces.
When and how did your interest in art develop?
As a child, I spent every minute I could drawing pictures of people. Drawing was my best friend. When I moved schools at 14, lack of confidence, bullying and an insensitive, sexist art teacher led me to completely abandon art. Later I found I loved singing, so I tried to make a career from that instead; but I had no luck, so I've ended up spending most of my life working in pointless, low-paid jobs that I hate.
I only came back to art by chance in my late thirties, when I fell into a job working for a friend who makes and repairs traditional stained glass windows. Through this job, I discovered medieval stained glass and fell in love with it. Gradually, I taught myself to paint and fire images onto glass and discovered that the beauty of the colours, the light and above all the slow, meticulous process of making a stained glass window cures my depression and sense of isolation – what starts as a dark and angry image often ends up quite funny. Now I couldn't live without it.
What influences your art?
My main artistic influence is medieval and renaissance stained glass. I like the timeless humour and poignancy of the images, from naive to grotesque. It seems to fit in with the way I see the world.
What process do you go through when you are creating a piece (starting with the initial idea)?
I usually do a very rough and spontaneous sketch in pencil first. I stick that onto a bigger sheet of paper and sketch other ideas around it. I transfer the images onto the glass with paint, sometimes using sandblasting, files or engraving as well. I don’t usually know exactly what it’s all about until I’ve finished the first few pieces. Each colour has to be fired separately and my kiln takes hours to cool down. Once I can see what it’s about, I start adding more images like a jigsaw, usually animals and birds found on the internet, who are often observing the behaviour of the human figures. Sometimes I see a figure in a medieval painting and include it alongside my own people, putting them in a new situation. It takes quite a few weeks, sometimes months, from start to finish. When it’s all soldered together, I put it in an LED lightbox or a window.
Which artists, if any, have you drawn inspiration from?
Medieval art, especially painted stained glass that has been broken and mended many times, Paula Rego and Pina Bausch.
What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
Amusement and ecstasy – because stained glass is always so beautiful – but also a sense of our connection to the past. I want the viewer to consider the way we have become out of touch with wildness, why we’re fighting with the natural world and how crazy that is. I can't just paint prettiness, because I'm too anxious about all the buried rubbish, the pollution, violence and ignorance and it would feel dishonest.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career?
This is one! Other than this, I was asked to design and make a window for Chalmers Sexual Health Clinic in Edinburgh in 2011 on the theme of ‘The Family’. That led to me being shortlisted for the Jerwood Makers Open and Fergusson Art Prize, which came as a great surprise to me and gave me the confidence to start making these more complex, personal pieces.
Has being a part of Outside In been beneficial for you? If so, how?
I am terribly isolated here; Outside In makes me feel part of something. It's helped me see that there are many others like me who live for art and it doesn't have to be on a grand scale to be amazing. It's a chance to have my work seen despite being self-taught, naive about the commercial art world and working in a medium that people still think belongs only in churches.
What is next for you as an artist?
In July I took my first ever art course, which was a life-changing experience, taught by the famous American stained glass artist Judith Schaechter. She said I have a very distinctive stained glass 'voice' and now I’m making a lot of new work. I’m experimenting with several layers of glass, which gives it more depth. I want to exhibit my work, so that people can see that stained glass is not just a relic for old churches, but can hang on a wall like a painting and reach people through its glowing colours.
Image: Pinkie Maclure, Stop Go