Angela runs the Kouklia Artworks, an Aladdin’s Cave of artistic treasures, where she represents many talented and creative people.
However, I wanted to find out a little more about the person and set out with some questions and a notebook.
Maria Etheridge: When did you start painting? Has it always been a passion or are you a ‘late bloomer’?
Angela: I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t sketching and painting, in fact I can remember drawing on my bedroom wall, and indeed, on the classroom floor when at Infants’ School – so I guess it’s always been a compulsion with me. I went to art school many years ago – back in the ‘70s – Leamington Spa, but then followed the family trend and pursued what appeared to be a ‘safer’ career in Social Work. However, my artwork has been a real bonus in working with people, so ‘it has always been there’, as part of my working life. I have used my art professionally throughout my career, without the specific title ‘Art Therapy’.
I suppose I may be referred to as ‘A Hobbyist’ by some. However, now having time to develop, I enjoy an excellent turnover of sales and demand, therefore let’s hear it for ‘The Hobbyists’ as it is possible to enjoy a great deal of success and recognition.
M: Do you only use acrylics or do you work with other mediums too?
A: I will use any medium. For portraiture I prefer oils, but have produced work in watercolours, pastels, and colour pencils, plus other media. I use acrylics for my ‘series’ paintings as I find it the fastest medium, and some of these paintings are very detailed, and require an amount of ‘easy layering’. My caricatures are pencil sketched, scanned to the computer, and colour applied with a ‘digital’ palette.
Drums, a portrait, and two from ‘Cyprus Life’ series
M: What do you believe is the key element in creating a good composition?
A: This so much depends on the subject. I’m aware of all the formal ‘rules’ – however, for me there must be ‘points of interest’ which draw the eye to different parts of the whole. If there is space, this too should bring ‘something to the plate’. I look for light and depth, and a composition which ‘tells a story’ or stands in its own right as a single item.
M: You have created series of paintings under the headings of Cyprus Life, The Professionals, Musicians in Hats and so forth. Could you tell us a little more about each series?
A: When I first came to Cyprus I followed the usual route of seascapes, sunsets, doors, etc. – there was inspiration at every turn, together with the ‘time to do it’. However, being among ‘the people’ and listening to their stories, I found a catalyst which lead to the Cyprus Life series, all of which are the result of things which I have observed, or things which have been said, around me. I believe I have a good sense of humour and can usually see the amusing side of life, therefore the style appealed more and more, both to myself, and as it turned out, to ‘the market’ which spurred me on to capture the continuously appearing material onto canvas. I discovered that I was actually smiling whilst I painted and new ideas emerged.
Foreign Delegates, the latest one, a local inhabitant, and a Stormy Kouklia Sunset
From this came the Professionals – having realised that I had ‘a style’ which people appeared to enjoy – I was inspired by stories from a number of people in different professions – and having painted ‘Yes, Chef’ (because we were once involved with the Hospitality trade) – I decided to expand on this. Like Cyprus Life – some of the paintings have real people in them, some don’t but for the Professionals series I always take advice as to how far I can ‘push the boundaries’ and still remain credible.
I am an amateur musician and wanted to create a series to celebrate this. It’s a very different style to my other series, because the focus is different, i.e. I was particularly interested in encompassing lighting, posture, and the interaction between the instrument and the musicians’ hands – hence just the ‘tilt of a hat’ and no face. Having started with the series, people commissioned pieces with specific instruments in the same style – so the collection grew.
I then did a ‘Family Group’ commissioned painting for a customer in UK, in a similar style, and have since been commissioned for these highly detailed and personalised paintings.
There are paintings and prints from these series now hanging all over the world, and I often take orders through the Kouklia Arts website which are delivered direct. Many images work well as merchandise, so they are printed onto mugs, key rings, fridge magnets etc., my theory being that if you like the image, then you can buy it at a range of prices and in a number of forms – but there is only one original!
M: Your paintings seem to have a humoristic twist and are expressed in naïve style. Would you like to expand on that?
A: The style is just how they ‘come out’ – nothing thought through or contrived. In fact, the figures are often slightly out of proportion, but it appears to work. I don’t usually have references for these pictures – just the overall concept and ‘shape of composition’, so each is a journey and most of the figures and faces present themselves to me as the work develops.
For the Professionals I do a good deal of research to ensure that details are correct, although they may well then be distorted to suit the humour of the work.
I get great delight from the ‘license’ which these subjects give me, i.e. I look at the clock on the operating theatre wall and think: ‘Hmmm – what to do with that’? Like many offices, they may have left behind a Christmas decoration or two, and in a hospital setting, this may well be a blown up latex glove, so in goes the glove, holly and ribbon.
Sometimes people say my paintings remind them of ‘Beryl Cook’ style, although I say my style is very much ‘Beryl Cook meets Giles’, which would make sense as I used to pour over the Daily Mail Giles cartoon books for hours, enjoying the depiction of the interaction between people, and the little details that you don’t initially notice.
M: Do you use other styles of expression such as abstract, still life, or any other?
A: I have a wide range of works including still life, abstract, and much more – some of which are on display in the studio. The demand to develop new images in the cartoon painting style means that other subjects are rare for me nowadays.
I take great delight in painting trompe l’oeil, (trick of the eye) and have painted on several walls in Kouklia. I have also ‘reverse glass painted’ a series of ‘stained glass’ windows in Konia.
I also create digital pictures which I have transformed into two animated movies ‘(The Adventures of Noggin Clontith). I have written and illustrated children’s books, namely The Adventures of Noggin Clontith, Cyber-Gran, Olivia and the Dinosaur, and The Adventures of Padistan Bear.
I have been very pleased to create props, staging and backdrops for Kouklia school and Youth Club plays, and a number of Taverna signs around the village.
M: Tell us a little more about your charity work, especially with regards to the cats. And how you raise funds and awareness, please?
A: Ah, the cats – actually, I wasn’t really a cat person before coming to Kouklia, but there they were – just everywhere, and we found kittens needing shelter – so off it went – cat rescue, both at home and the studio. Then I met Cynthia Smith, from Mandry’s Fund charity, and became involved in the Trap Neuter Release programme. We have an ideal location at the studio, and cats gather each day for feeding, so we are able to trap them for neutering.
We sell second hand books at the Gallery to raise money for the charity, plus I have painted a picture especially (Caterwaul) for the Cat Charities, for which they have the copyright, and can create merchandise to sell. I am currently doing the same for the dogs.
I’m also involved as an advisor / consultant with the Aiya Napa / Famagusta Autism Parents group, who are incredibly driven, and are working toward the first residential and respite Autism unit in Cyprus. I have pledged to create a specific merchandising image, for them also.
Indeed, I am a very busy person, having Management and Autism as key specialities. I am involved with a 3 year EU funded project developing Parent Training in 4 European Countries, which takes me to some interesting places. I am also delivering Soft Skills training, again EU funded, in other parts of Europe including Cyprus, plus Management training in Abu Dhabi, so there is not a great deal of down time.
M: You are participating in, and are hosting five other artists for the Cyprus Open Studios. Please tell us if the public should be aware of any particular points that will make their visit to Kouklia Artworks as pleasant as possible. How easy is parking, for instance? And what should they be looking out for as landmarks.
A: I am really thrilled at the team who will be exhibiting for Cyprus Open Studios! Between us there is a range of works and styles, and all of us are ‘on our journeys of development’, and therefore it is interesting to see how people have varied their subject matter over time.
A taste of the other participants at Kouklia’s work
As well as paintings, visitors can see a range of other items produced by the artists.
At one time the Capital City of Cyprus, Kouklia is a destination village, boasting Aphrodite’s Temple, the medieval fort museum and a ‘real feel’ of Cypriot Culture. There are a number of Tavernas where you can sit and watch village life, and enjoy good food and wine.
The Studio / Gallery is situated just off Kouklia Square, in a building which, I believe we have ‘authentically’ restored, between Sophia’s and Gabriel’s Tavernas. There is a main car park just before the square, or near the Temple entrance.
M: And how long have you operated in Kouklia?
A: Kouklia Artworks was established 3 years ago, and provides the opportunity for Artists and Crafters from as far away as Nicosia to Polis to display and sell their work. We have a number of different nationalities, producing a variety of styles and products.
There is a small classroom to the rear of the Gallery, where I give painting / drawing and other classes to both children and adults.
The Kouklia Arts website is www.ArtworksKouklia.com, and we have a FACEBOOK page.
M: As one of the organisers of Cyprus Open Studios, I wish you and your fellow participants great success in this year’s event – we are planning to make next year’s event bigger and better! Thank you, Angela.
Ed.~ To see all the participants in Cyprus Open Studios, please visit our website, download the catalogue and do a final check of the revised 2016 schedule – all on the website: www.cyprusopenstudios.com And don’t forget to get your entry form signed by four participants (in different locations) to stand a chance to win a voucher for €150,00 sponsored by www.art-en-route-cyprus.com – and have fun!
Please note that all images are subject to copyright laws and copying may result in legal action. Permission to reproduce images must be obtained from the authors mentioned in this post.