Taking inspiration: Miss Fantoush

Which artist has had the biggest impact on you? 

I love Frida Kahlo’s irreverence and how she constantly challenged ideas of beauty and gender. I always find her paintings interesting, but it is Frida as a person, that intrigues me. I like seeing old photographs of her, she had such a striking face and combined with her style, her body for me, was an extension of her art. Her wardrobe is a designer’s dream, the way she combined patterns and colours was phenomenal.

Henri Matisse Jazz 1947 © Succession H. Matisse. All Rights Reserved. DACS, London 2022.

Which artist has most inspired your work?

For my work it has to be Matisse. There is no one piece that I favourite, but the way his body of work includes traditional vistas and still life, along side incredibly bold, abstract pieces, perfectly reflects my own design philosophy. I love his strong colour combinations but at the same time, I find his simple line drawings very powerful. This combination of beautifully executed minimalism, along side striking shapes and colours, is for me, the perfect combination.

What is your favourite gallery?

The Portrait Gallery. I spend a lot of time looking at buildings and rooms, so to stare at people is a welcome relief. I love getting really close to the paintings to see how the paint is applied, I started oil painting classes a few years ago and aside from practice, looking at the work of great artists is the best way to improve your technique.

How about further afield - what is your favourite gallery outside of Edinburgh? 

I will never forget my visit to Musée de Rodin in Paris. One of Rodin’s most famous works is a sculpture called ‘The Thinker’. I think the whole building and the gardens were designed with this work in mind. I found it such a peaceful place that gave Rodin’s work room to breathe and visitors space for reflection. 

Ken Currie Three Oncologists (Professor RJ Steele, Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri and Professor Sir David P Lane of the Department of Surgery and Molecular... 2002 © Ken Currie

What is your favourite piece of art from the Scottish National Collection? 

I would find it impossible to choose my favourite but the piece that has stayed with me is Three Oncologists by Ken Currie. I find the painting really haunting, I certainly wouldn’t want it on my living room wall, it would give me nightmares, but it’s the fact that it scares me that illustrates how powerful art can be.

19 September 2019