Charley Peters | Interview


Welcome to the family Charley Peters! Charley is a London-based painter, a writer on abstract painting and independent curator. Starting from an interest in the legacy of Modernism, her work considers the manifestation of the abstract in the context of contemporary visual media, such as TV, the Internet and computer desktops.

Her meticulously made paintings reflect the graphically complex world in which we now live, where we simultaneously see multiple ‘windows’ on computer screens, smartphones and digital tablets. We hope you enjoy our interview with Charley the hard edge, abstract expressionism, pop arty goddess!

  • What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?
  • Being shy and awkward, I spent a lot of time alone in my bedroom drawing.
  • What’s integral to the work of an artist?
  • To have the passion and drive to keep making stuff. For me, the ability to walk into my studio at any time and just paint is really important – I don’t procrastinate or over think, I have the compulsion to make work every day. If you don’t have this then being an artist, which is a strange career at the best of times, would be even more difficult. You have to believe in what you are making too, this is very important.
  • What superpower would you have and why?
  • I’d like to bend time so I have more hours in my day, I hate rushing to get things done.
  • What’s your scariest experience?
  • I'm not scared of anything...!
  • What do you dislike about the art world?
  • How exclusive it is. I think it’s still much easier to achieve ‘success’ in a conventional sense if you are well connected and independently wealthy. I have a sense that this is changing though, there are many different ways to be a part of the art world now and we have more opportunities to make up our own rules.
  • Your work is precisely executed, are you this precise in all aspects of your life? ;-)
  • Absolutely not! I think I’m well organised because I am very busy and have to juggle lots of things but I’m pretty messy in plenty of ways. I’m clumsy, I don’t read things properly, I don’t always listen when I should do, I leave things I don’t want to do until the last minute, I let milk go mouldy in the fridge...I could go on… The only place I’m precise is in the studio and really that’s just how thing turns out. When I’m painting it’s like I’m controlling chaos, things start out being a confusing mess and the more I work on them the more clarity there is. And although things look precise they aren’t perfect, there is still a sense that they are made by hand.
  • How has your practice changed over time?
  • I think I have more confidence in my abilities to make good paintings now, the experience of making a lot of work over several years allows you to relax and trust yourself more. I’m more able to just try things out knowing that I can make them work on the canvas and that allows me to do things that are more experimental.
  • Name something you love, and why.
  • I love being happy, because otherwise everything would suck.
  • Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
  • I don’t think my work is often inspired by real-life things in a direct way, it’s not always easy to locate where influences or ideas come from. However, I do remember having a moment in the Pantheon when I visited Rome a few years ago. I was there by myself for ages watching the light travel around the space, the architecture shifted so much in a short space of time – flat areas suddenly developed depth and colours changed. It made me see the relationship between light and space in a fresh way and definitely did have an impact on what I made subsequently in the studio…it was a little bit magical and it’s stayed with me ever since.
  • Any current projects you can talk about?
  • I’ve just finished working on a couple of projects – a small painting for an auction at Hauser & Wirth for a fundraiser for Hospital Rooms, and a hand-painted skate deck for an auction at House of Vans with The Auction Collective. These events are both happening in the autumn. Now I’m working on some new paintings for shows that are now probably going to happen in 2021, there’s a few things on my schedule that are still postponed.
  • Have you collaborated with other artists? Do you have any artists you would like to collaborate with?
  • Yes I really like collaborating with other artists, I think it’s good to have those conversations with other people about how they make things. I did a residency in 2018 where I collaborated with a different artist every few days and I learned a lot about how I work as well as how they did. Collaborating take some negotiation but it allows you to make decisions about what parts of your working processes you can let go of and which are important to hold onto to. I’m currently in the early stages of discussing a potential collaboration with a musician about developing a soundtrack to a forthcoming exhibition of paintings, which I’m really excited about.
  • If you could communicate one thing to an upcoming artist about being represented what would it be?
  • It depends what you mean by representation. The art world is changing and especially since lockdown more artists have been finding a market for their work by selling it online without the involvement of galleries or agents. This has been very empowering for artists. I think the old model where artists only sell through galleries isn’t realistic anymore, and working with different audiences on a non-exclusive basis is a more progressive way of managing a creative career.
  • One last hard question... What's your favourite colour?
  • This is actually the easiest question…turquoise.