It’s your last week to see a glorious exhibition of colourful paintings by Sandi Goodwin at Nazaret Library, a cool modernistic cultural space.
In this month’s artist’s spotlight, Tina McCallan visits the exhibition and studio of Sandi Goodwin, whose show “Explosion of Colours”, is now on at the Nazaret Library until 29 October at C/ Fontilles 35. It’s a wonderful, modern space, perfect for showing her expressive, colourful work.
Originally born in London, Sandi has had a life packed with travel and unbelievably interesting experiences. She started her career as a nurse in London and then lived in New Zealand for 27 years. There she switched careers, becoming an event organiser, working with top dance and theatre companies.
Then she moved back to London, where painting and drawing started to become the focus of her creativity. In 2005 she moved to Spain where she has found contentment and community here in Valencia, living as an abstract painter with a wonderfully bohemian studio situated just below her apartment in Nazaret.
When did you start painting?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t paint. I was always sketching and painting, but being married to an artist, I felt I couldn’t be one too.
It wasn’t until we broke up that I started to do more art, but I still didn’t really take it very seriously, even if people said, “Oh Sandi, that’s really good”. I’d say, “Oh these are just doodles”. For example, I always kept a visual diary of my travels, drawing people and places but it wasn’t until I met my current partner, Margaret, that I was able to develop more confidence and then I started to take my art seriously.
I thought that, to become an artist, you had to go to art school. I thought you had to draw everything in a realistic style, you know, using perspective and even though I explored the idea of going to the Elam Art School in New Zealand, I finally didn’t go ahead with it.
Then we left New Zealand and we were staying in a flat in Docklands, east London, overlooking the River Thames, and I was painting at that time, in this tiny flat, trying not to get paint on the beige carpet!
I met a woman who told me to throw away the paintbrushes and use a credit card as a tool to paint with instead. That’s when things started to change, things took off – I started to feel free and experiment more.
Another life-changing experience was when I went to Nice. We were now in Europe, so it was easier to travel. I saw paintings by Chagall and Matisse and remember being blown away and thinking, “Wow, it’s OK to paint like this. These are ‘Masters’ – and they are using the colours I love, there’s no perspective and they are so dream-like.”
Yes, the first time you see an artist’s work in the flesh can have a huge impact and can give you permission to paint how you want to. That’s why visiting museums and galleries is so important. Which other artists do you like?
I love Kandinsky, Mark Rothko – and Paul Klee. But especially Sam Gilliam because of the colours he uses and the huge fabrics he drapes around the room, from wall-to-ceiling, they kind of hang like sculptures in the space.
I also love painting on fabric, and an important part of my output is textile design and painting on clothes. As well as doing abstract paintings, I’m currently drawing a lot of faces. I’d love to put them on a fabric and make clothes with them. Frank Bowling is another artist I admire because of his use of colour.
What inspires you now?
Well, specifically looking at the “Explosion of Colours” exhibition, the lockdown experience has had a huge impact. During that strange period where we couldn’t do the things we normally do, I started to draw every day, a bit like going back to the visual diary approach of my travels.
I started to draw surreal moments during lockdown. For example, an online dance class or clapping on the balcony but I also drew upon my friends’ experiences, until finally, I had built up hundreds of drawings. This was published in a book called “Lockdown Stories”. The book kept me amused and occupied.
I also started to do images which I call “Movement in Lockdown”, dancing female figures made up of tiny, fragmented shapes, a bit like a mosaic.
Parallel to that, I started to do the colourful abstracts, which are in the exhibition. They speak of the hope, freedom, and optimism of coming out of lockdown. I also feel very inspired by being in a place I love, I feel happy and content, just walking around the Old Town, seeing the sights, the alleyways, the sea and sky, being around other artists that I have learned so much from, and making friends.
In a nutshell the joyous part of being here.
Your studio is amazing, every surface is covered in paint! Can you say a bit about your technique? How do you choose the colours in your paintings?
I have them all set out on the table.
I usually start with blue and I build it up from there, add, delete, mix, delete, throw around and it evolves. I don’t really plan it. I just go with the flow, but I love bright colours, like reds, oranges, strong colours.
In some of the work I mask off shapes with masking tape, then I will paint in sections, using large brushes, or large tools usually used to clean windows. I build up the colour, with each section responding to the last and then sprinkle or drip other colours on top. Each painting is different. Lately, I’ve been using a fan motif. Adrian Pantir from Creative Minds made a video of me working in my studio. It illustrates the techniques very well: Sandi Goodwin at work
I was struck by the poetic titles of the work. How do you name the paintings?
I don’t normally name them, as I like it when people come up with their own ideas. But in this show I felt I needed to title them, so I collaborated with my partner Margaret, and she wrote a poem responding to the work in the exhibition.
Explosion of Colours by Margaret Flaws
Albufera jazz riffs
Gold trumpets swing.
Shafts of sunlight,
windscreen wipers bebop blue.
Below the studio
an explosion of laughter.
Explosion of colour.
Gracias a la vida.
From the poem, she named each individual work. It was lovely to collaborate as she’s a hidden poet, and I’m very pleased and proud of the titles. It’s also inspired me to name them in the future.
What’s it like living and working in Nazaret?
Well, I have to say I love it. I am very much part of the community, and this barrio inspires me constantly. It was the neighbourhood association who believed in me and supported me to get the exhibition in the library. I’m also surrounded by artists, poets and writers who have lived here for many years and welcomed me into their community.
The show is such a celebration of joy, colour and Spanish life in a way. I particularly like ‘Jive’ and ‘Blue Dancers’. Do you have a favourite piece in the show?
I love Rollercoaster because it reminds me of all the emotions we have experienced over the past couple of years, as well as ‘Fiesta’ because it reminds me of Las Fallas, the idea of celebration and you can definitely see fireworks in there! Another favourite is Lemon Thyme – there are hidden dancers there.
‘Explosion of Colours’ is on until 29 October and it’s really worth a trip to Nazaret. You can grab a cerveza in Sandi’s local Bar Los Chicos and meet the artist herself, who will be present on the last evening of the exhibition, Thursday 28 October! Sandi receives studio visits by appointment, contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
All her work plus “Lockdown Stories” can be purchased from her website
Exhibition Address: Espai Cultural Biblioteca Del Mar, Carrer de Fontilles, 35 Nazaret Valencia 46024
You can find Sandi and her work on her website or follow her on Instagram.