Interview with Jo Derbyshire

jo_derbyshire-230.jpgInterview with Jo Derbyshire: Art – Kaleidoscopes to When the City Speaks.
Written by Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney.
Photograph Tony Knox c. 2007.
Friday 28 March 2007.

Jo Derbyshire, visual artist and part of the Transvoyeur management team, has been influenced by one form or another of creativity throughout her life and had shown exceptional skills as an adolescent.

She has explored her innate ability through a range of practices, including writing, theatre, visual arts and more recently live art, the latter which is a natural progression to her previous fusion of artistic enquiries. Her core practice is set around painting in a range of media from figurative to abstract expressionism.

Her current work researched new approaches to the gestural and mark-making through different materials and she currently completing her Masters in Creative Practice at Liverpool Hope University (Liverpool, England). She has exhibited locally and internationally in array of different art festivals and exhibitions. Her interests and passion for arts has involved curating various projects, including former Associate Curator to the Egg Space Gallery and many other exhibition programmes she has initiated.

Derbyshire discusses in an interview with Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney her concepts and experiences that shape her art work.

Sweeney: When did you first become interested in art and recognised yourself as an artist?

Derbyshire: Probably from a child, when I was in the Nursery. I remember I had this instinct to just paint the whole page leaving no gaps anywhere. I was obsessed by kaleidoscopes. It was probably then but I am not really into labels, I just do what I do.

Sweeney: Can you explain your artwork?

Derbyshire: To some extent, it is an extension to how I feel and am experiencing at a particular time, it is my social history, my record.

Sweeney: Your work has a strong interest in gestural actions of abstract painting. Can you explain the relationship of this creative process in your work?

Derbyshire: Probably by using Chaos Theory, it would easily be explained, it is very physical and more ordered than you would think, I like using tones over the gestural painting to explain moods. I believe that art should speak for itself and the reader, the observer, is the person who should judge what I have created.

Sweeney: You work as a writer, part of which you combine into your performance explorations. Can you please describe this and the relationship across your art practice of the live art element and writing to your fine art practice?

Derbyshire: In Western culture, I find things can be pigeon holed a bit. I have always written and always been involved in visual art (under the broad spectrum of the title) in some way or form. I trained with – I think – some Russian Actors (it was the early 90’s so cant really remember!) in Physical Theatre back in the day, and studied Theatre studies at Liverpool and Imaginative writing. I also studied History and politics at university as well as fine Art, so I think with me all these disciplines have combined. I don’t think with me I could be any other way, I don’t see it as a mismatch but a bundle of things I have gathered which I am interested in.

Sweeney: What artists have inspired you and why?

Derbyshire: So many, and recently so many undiscovered talented artists, without sounding too romantic I can find art in a lot of things, as I am renovating my house at the moment I am seeing the art and craft in that.

Sweeney: What subjects shape and influence your work and how?

Derbyshire: Currently the city, not just Liverpool, the concept of a city. Again with me having experience in various disciplines I approach a project differently I think.

jo_seasons_performance_230.jpgSweeney: What motivates you to create through painting and performance media? Is there a defining difference or do the two interrelate significantly?

Derbyshire: With me, they definitely interrelate. It is to do with the initial idea, how both are conceived, it is merely the parameters that change the creative approach.

Sweeney: Do you use any other media as research source or in production of your art?

Derbyshire: Well, as mentioned earlier I studied social science, the theatre, acting etc and this definitely comes into my work. I tend to research in probably a more academic way, which probably comes from social science, I will read a wide spectrum of subjects as research, photograph areas of interest, carry around a journal and all this amalgamated probably contributes to the production of the art.

Sweeney: What do you plan for the future as an artist in your professional practice?

Derbyshire: This is a difficult one for me as usually I will have recorded something say in my journal or taken photographs, made drawings of something, that at first has not been really clear, then it will jump out at me like When the City Speaks did.

Sweeney: What are the positive and negative experiences of being an artist?

Derbyshire: A lot of artists practice and have to keep a day job to survive financially, but I still class them as artists, a lot of artists practice for years without much recognition, they too are artists me. Some artists purposely block others for whatever reason and have these nepotistic networks – I really don’t get it! I remember someone who used the phrase ‘decadent art world’ to describe people in it, which I thought was really funny.

Sweeney: What do you want to be remembered for?

Derbyshire: To me it is not about recognition and recently with the advent of reality TV etc; you see many redundant people craving for their 15 minute of fame. Fame for its own end, if we can call it that is, something not of much value to me. If I am remembered or if not it wouldn’t bother me anyway as I wont be about; I’d like to think however, that I will be able to stick around and be remembered or something of value and not as the person who blocked someone else, or is a bit of a sensationalist.

Further information on Derbyshire’s work can be viewed at:


For future events Derbyshire’s is involved with Transvoyeur: