June Mostra 2016 / Meet the artists … Ross Taylor

Over the next few days we will be introducing you in turn to our seven resident artists who will be exhibiting in the June Mostra on Friday 17 June. With exactly one week to go until opening night we spoke to Ross Taylor about how his work has changed as he approaches his third mostra at the BSR

Ross Taylor (Abbey Scholar in Painting)


Ross Taylor’s paintings are concerned with a language that is non-specific.  A kind of poetics where only condensations appear on the surface, attempting to model thoughts and ideas that seem to be impossible in a physical realm.  His research in Rome will focus on late medieval conceptions of virtual space and the techniques employed in portraying the sacred and the figureless.

I first have to address this enormous piece of work lying across the floor of your studio! Is this your piece for the upcoming mostra and when did you start working on it?

I started working on it a couple of weeks ago. It’s a bit unusual that I’ve been working on so many paintings during my residency but I’m only planning on showing one in this mostra. However, this new approach feels like a bit of a breakthrough for me. The work that I have shown at each mostra has been getting progressively larger and I began to realise that with these larger scale works comes a different logic, especially with concerns over how long they take and what this means when making them. I work into my paintings quite a lot, they can change ten or so times before I think I’ve finished and I do revisit paintings that I’ve already shown. In my studio in London I have a lot of work on the go, it takes a long time for me to think they are finished, and are independent of me. I like my work to be part of a family, so even after an exhibition, if my work starts to move in another direction, I like the other work to go with it.

But for this mostra, I feel I have taken quite a leap somewhere. I noticed that although I really enjoy making paintings on linen and stretcher, they’re not always doing all of the things that I’m asking of them. I think I needed to branch off and work on something slightly more unpredictable.

I really like working on this much larger scale but I do have to work so much faster as I’m using water-based ink and so it has a much quicker drying time. I have about a day to work on a section and then it’s dry. I’m hoping it’s going to be about 7 – 8 metres by the end but you can see which bits I’ve worked on each day, it’s like a catalogue of marks.

What was the catalyst for changing your practise so much?

I am trying to create an atmosphere in my work, I was talking about this to Damien [Duffy, Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellow] actually , and specifically about the ‘weather’ in new paintings. Within the surface, there is always an allusion to another space, I want them to act as a rendering of an emotional place. But with the new work, when I paste them to the wall, it goes a step further. The speed, or should I say, slowness of the surface demands attention. I am slightly confused with how to view them and I really enjoy that.

I recently had a show in Sweden where I used printed images of my work and I really wanted to pursue this flatness. Since that show, I realised that it wasn’t necessarily the printed aspect of the work that excited me but it was more the relationship of the painting’s surface with the surface on which it is applied. In this new work, the paper is fused directly to the wall, it instantly becomes temporary but yet can’t be moved as the work will not survive without the wall. I was very effected by Fra Angelico’s frescoes in the Convent of San Marco in Florence; each of the cells were individually painted for each inhabitant. It creates a very specific audience – I was drawn to how they can only be viewed here, and now.

You’ve been an award-holder at the BSR for the last eight months, do you think that this progression in your work has been the largest difference you’ve noticed during your residency?

Yes, I was talking to James [Ferris, Derek Hill Foundation Scholar] about this, I think that the residency has given me a completely new confidence. I have been able to get into a routine where I’m getting up every day and making work in the studio without any distractions. In London that’s not the case, your time can be littered with stress and errands, whereas here I have had the space to really focus on certain areas of interest. When I think back to how figurative my work was in September I can see that my work has really been stripped down, one narrative at a time. It’s a really good thing, it’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but just didn’t have the confidence.

And do you feel that being at the BSR has helped you move forward as an artist?

Just before I came here, I read about Danny Rolph [Rome Scholar 1998-9] and his own memories of how his work progressed at the BSR. You have such an opportunity to change things and you can definitely see a shift in people’s work. He has a great anecdote about a gust of wind blowing one of his paintings on paper onto the floor. It landed facedown, allowing him to notice the back of the work and the potential in this presentation. The type of detail or observation that perhaps may not have registered within the craziness of ‘normal’ life.

Being a resident artist here gives you the luxury of time, you definitely find out more about how you work. For me, it’s been transformative to discover there are so many alternatives within the processes I use!


Ross’ work will be exhibited alongside the other six resident artists in the June Mostra; open 16.30-19.00, Saturday 18 June until Saturday 25 June 2016, closed Sundays.

Photo by Antonio Palmieri, interview conducted by Katherine Paines