In Conversation with Victoria Horkan

To celebrate the release of Victoria Horkan's brand new prints, we question the Yorkshire born Artist on the relationship between distortion and fantasy in her butterfly paintings, why she thinks people find the compilations so compelling and her thoughts on Damien Hirst's Butterfly paintings including the 9,000 butterflies that died during his 2008 Tate exhibition.

By Charlotte Broomfield | 25 Feb 2014
1. Sounds self-explanatory, but we're wondering, do you have a specific love for butterflies?
Yes I do now! I didn’t to begin with when I first started painting them. Initially I painted lots of fish and the butterflies kind of evolved from that. I have an obsession with nature and the natural colours found in birds, fish etc so I think the butterflies just flew into my colour palette and they haven’t really gone away, not yet anyway.   2.Your work is a real best seller at Rise Art. What is it about your work that you think people find so compelling? That’s kind! I think there has to be something compelling about the work, a connection that you have with a piece. Sometimes people say the work simply uplifts them, and to me that’s good enough but then it goes much deeper for others. It’s about feeling moved by the piece, viewing it and absorbing the qualities of it. I also think there is that element of not being sure quite how I do it, and I like that I hope that makes my work a little more absorbing and interesting. Victori'a studio 3. How important is fantasy & distortion in your butterfly series? Very important, that’s what I am trying to do. I'm not interested in interpreting the world as we know it, to me that’s too much of a cop-out. Where would art be if we didn’t distort the truth and create things which aren’t visible in the every day world- I would feel like I would be letting myself down if I did that. I also like that that transcends to the viewer, it’s not just what I perceive or want to create, it’s how they interpret the work that’s even more relevant. I’m kind of manipulating the butterfly to take people to another world, similar to the fantasy and childhood awe we receive when we read an amazing imaginative book. I am trying to do that with paint and with the viewers thoughts and feelings. You kind of get that sense too when you see something that is normally small and enlarging it beyond the norm it gives it that majestic powerful quality, I want to make the viewer gasp and be totally uplifted. 4. How long does it take to complete one of your paintings?
It can take around six weeks the paint is so thick and sculptured almost, sometimes that doesn’t come across on the images but when people buy my work they always say that the rich layering is so tactile and a nice surprise for them really.   5. Weirdest thing thats happened to you at an art fair?
I don’t go to them. I don’t go to galleries and I don’t go to shows in the main- strange I know but I think you can become too influenced by what the galleries deem as ‘trendy wall worthy art’. The Tate bores me, I went once and liked ‘Rothko’ and some Salvador Dali and the rest zapped me lifeless. I’m not saying the artwork isn’t credible because it is –it just doesn’t do anything for me. Victoria Horkan - Butterfly Series 2

Victoria Horkan
Butterfly Series 2

6. Considering your textiles background, do you think you'll ever cross over into creating print for interiors?
I did that to begin with and crossed over to painting. Textiles was too restrictive for me. Being a painter allows more creative freedom and you need that, otherwise you just crumble.   7. Do you plan each work or is it more of an 'ad-lib' process?
You can never completely plan, I have an initial idea and the way the paint moves and it’s textured qualities almost dictate how I am going to work the canvas. Sometimes I just paint with the music on loud and cover a canvas using a business card to paint with in bright red, then keep say around 10mm of it, those 10mm of paint might be the best bit of the painting it all makes the picture sing- every tiny element is as important as each other. Sometimes I just want to paint for paintings sake too, it’s selfish isn’t it but I just want to do it without the deep-thinking process, and just go for it like your at the gym or you want to dance. So I think that’s why I do the whole canvas thing sometimes, it’s like saying ‘leave me on my own for a bit’ and a little part of me will come out good in the aftermath. Blue Birds - Victoria Horkan

Victoria Horkan
Blue Birds

8. Is your work in any notable, weird or wonderful collections? I’m certainly never going to be in the Tate am I? I’ve had a few famous collectors and a lady who worked at Sotheby’s bought my work when I was just starting out, so that was a nice accolade.   9. Whats the funniest/weirdest response you've ever had to one of your pieces?
They usually come from children. My favourite was a comparison from a client’s little boy who said my painting looked like ‘Super Man’ without the blue tights! My other favourite line is ‘what is that meant to be?’ subtle eh??? Collision Butterfly - Victoria Horkan

Victoria Horkan
Butterfly Collision

10. What kind of materials make up your works?
Lots of lush thick oil paints, undiluted but lovingly scooped up and energetically applied to the surface of the canvas. I’m using a bit more collage in my work now, just so the work evolves and collectors can see that. I’m using a little photography and experimenting with resin. Invitation Peacock Party

Victoria Horkan
Invitation Peacock Party

11. What do you think to Damien Hirst's butterfly paintings? I love them to be honest! When I first started painting butterflies Damian Hirst had just had his exhibition at The Tate, and I thought perhaps I shouldn’t paint them because they have already been done. But everything has hasn’t it to a degree? I just hope the style of my work makes mine stand out that’s all any artist can hope for.   12. And if your answer to Q1 is yes what do you think to the death of the 9k butterflies (!!?!) during his exhibition at the Tate 2011. I didn’t know that. That’s shocking isn’t it? Nothing should suffer in the name of the art- only the artist themselves.   We're giving away a 1 hour personal Art Consultation! Make your home beautiful: For a chance to win register HERE. To view VICTORIA'S full page on Rise Art click HERE. 

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