Born 1969, Oxford UK, Gail Reid studied maths at Bristol University, and (postgraduate) printmaking at the University of the West of England. A career in IT consultancy enabled her to observe, travel, study, and develop her practice without commercial constraint or substantial instruction.
Reid’s lifetime daily practice is figurative observational drawing. Prolific and spontaneous, she uses assorted tools with a muted colour palette to describe on paper the world she sees. Rejecting flattery or visual conjecture, she presents ubiquitous contrasts: natural and manmade, light and dark, recoil and appreciation. Reid champions the less obviously beautiful subject in a lively and expressive way - a magnified insect, a spitting camel, or a particularly uninteresting shell. She sets these in their real context, including litter, mundane furniture or the urban landscape. Reid's large-scale relief prints and drawings reduce her subjects to stark monochrome, while remaining faithful to their surface texture and form. Her background in technology is reflected through solid draftsmanship, and the deliberate absence of romance or fantasy.
Since childhood I have been a maker of crafts in the European tradition: knitting, crochet, weaving, calligraphy etc. In the current age of digital technology, and instant gratification, I relish the stillness and skill that come with disciplined practice. To me, craft techniques are part of my family heritage, and a universal language that transcends time and culture.
I view accurate representative drawing, painting and printmaking as extensions of this craft set, requiring patient application. Mastery is a constant challenge, and to an extent an end in itself. Ultimately, it is a means to recording the world around me without deliberate distortion or idealization. My work is observed from life, spontaneously executed, and stopped short of a pristine finish.
I depict less obviously beautiful subjects, that might invoke a shudder or ironic amusement. Eschewing colour and fantasy, I engage with fragile balances such as recoil and appreciation, nature in an urban setting, form versus reflection and shadow. I focus on the mundane or less obvious to highlight their raw unfiltered beauty, commonly lost in curated photostreams and enhanced selfies.
My work broadly falls into three categories:
Sketches – graphite pencil, dipped pen, watercolour. I draw indiscriminately from life the flora, fauna and landscape around me – taxidermy, sports training, urban sprawl... I see a page of thumbnail sketches as a finished piece, a raw and immediate encapsulation of a place and time.
Linocut – using monochrome or reduction blocks I produce hand printed small editions. Sometimes on a very large scale, I build a complex image from many small cuts, as a knitter uses stitches to build a garment.
Portraiture (human, animal, or special object) - I savour the challenge of representing a being, for the particular difficulties of likeness, anatomy, expression, and reconciliation with the subject’s own self-identification. I am passionate about getting original art, particularly good quality drawing, in front of children - this has given rise to a large series of commissioned soft toy portraits, operating under the separate account of www.soggyrabbit.com.
I associate with several collectives, particularly Spike Printmakers (UK), Tashkeel (Dubai) and the international Urban Sketchers organisation.
Influences: Albrecht Durer, Auguste Rodin, Raoul Dufy, M.C. Escher, Peter Reddick, Piers Browne, Bryan Poole, Rachel Milne, Susie Brooks, and many more.
Raw Observations - at Gallery 76, Dubai International Art Center, 2017 Click here to download catalogue
West Bristol Art Trail 2011, 2012
Spike Print Studio annual members’ exhibition 2012
Bristol Southmead Hospital (Brunel Building atrium inaugural exhibition) 2014
ARTE (Artisans of the Emirates) Dubai 2015, 2016
Dubai Jazzfest, 2016
Made In Tashkeel, Dubai 2016 Click here for press article