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Creative processes: Images of artists / Conversations with Artists.

Nick Howard and Janet McKenzie


Conversations With Artists Creative Processes: is a collaborative project with photographer Nick Howard: based on interviews and studio visits with artists for Studio International around the world. It will provide an insight into the art practice of leading international artists, who focus on global issues of urgency such as the environmental crisis and the devastating impact of the pandemic.  Conversations was conceived after a trip to China, in April 2012, where 25 artists were interviewed for Moving Beyond: Contemporary Chinese Art, (with poets Yang Lian and Zhaoe Ye). The process and photographs were so remarkable that a book devoted to conversations with artists from all over the world was planned.

Commenting on the creative process of Cy Twombly, Nicholas Serota recently observed: “Images of an artist at work in his or her studio are rare. Jackson Pollock, photographed by Hans Namuth in a barn in Long Island dripping paint from a brush over a canvas on the floor, is a singular and celebrated exception. I have long been captivated by Lucien Hervé and Hélène Adant’s photographs of the elderly, frail Matisse in his studio in the Hotel Regina in Nice. In the photographs we see Matisse extending his arm by means of a long bamboo wand, to the end of which he has tied a piece of charcoal. The length of the stick and the arc that it describes gives the line a certain fluidity and a rhythm that would be absent with a drawing made from the wrist, or even with the arm at full stretch”.

Nick Howard has offered some thoughts on photographing artists at work in their studios:


“The artists own the light in their studios. Reflected light from their objects/paintings/surfaces constantly illuminates their faces giving them tones reminiscent of the objects.

When painting, there is the opportunity to see their eyes, their hands, their tools and their artefacts all in the same frame, illuminated by their light.

The inward focus of the artist-at-work will sometimes say more than words ever can.

The documentary nature of the photographs brings a new dimension to the conversations, illustrating theory with practice and allowing the reader into a secret world.

Actual conversation becomes an interestingly fragmented process, which filters through necessity: concentrating on a brush stroke, the words peter out and are only picked up on again if there is a good reason.

In the interviews, we are given time on a limited basis. Photographing the artists at work would be allowing us in on the reality of a process that can only be hinted at with words”.


Selected artists interviewed/photographed so far:



Edmund de Vaal, Grayson Perry, Kimathi Donkor, Tess Jaray, Andrew Marr, Mat Collishaw, Jos Tilson, Antony Gormley, Paul Coldwell, Stephen Farthing, Charlotte Hodes

Eileen Hogan, Michael Armitage, Neil Gall, Michael Craig-Martin, Christopher Le Brun.


Joyce Cairns,  Richard Demarco, Ilana Halperin, Kate Whiteford, Arthur Watson, Frances Walker, Carole Robb, Will Maclean, Marian Leven


G W Bot, Philip Hunter, Wendy Stavrianos.

Sally Smart, Janenne Eaton, Danie Mellor, Christian Thompson. 



Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum, Faig Ahmed, Saba Qizilbash.


Philip Pearlstein, Michael Joo, Valerie Hird, Reni Gower and Jorge Benitez, , Anita Glesta, Francesco Clemente, Bill Viola.


Shang Yang, Xu Longsen, Xu Bing, Su Xingping, Guan Jingjing,  He Gong, Liu Guofo.


Wang Chuang

Su Xingping Beijing.jpg

Su Xingping, Beijing

_EdW SEP7857 (2).jpg

Edmund de Vaal

Guan Jingjing Beijing.jpg

Guan Jingjing, Beijing

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