Artist interview: Jack Fawdry Tatham

‘Making art is all about failing’


What is your art practice?

I studied Sculpture at Camberwell. I also use watercolours, etching, Lino and have put real focus in to learning to draw. I am very fortunate to work in a studio in the basement of Pollock’s Toy Museum in Central London. I etch copper plates using acid and print them using a Victorian press left over from the days of the toy theatre. I am drawn to the process of printmaking as a bridge between drawing and sculpture, using acid, metal, blood, sweat and brute force to create images that can be clean and delicate.


Who or what influences your work?

I’m influenced by the relationship between humans and the natural world. How we fit in to a world more and more detached from nature. Are we part of nature? Can animals be our friends? Are plants intelligent? What do bees think of us? What does the future hold for human and beast? Artists that inspire me include Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Eric Gill, Picasso, Mattisse, John Maclean, Thomas Bewick, David Jones.


Which artist do you admire and wish you could have been?

Thomas Bewick. He lived in a time that I find very interesting; the end of the 18th century beginning of the 19th. It was the beginning of the end for the country side. Industrialisation and urban living had begun. Bewick walked everywhere and had a deep love of nature. His wood engravings were the first comprehensive natural history studies. They often have wonderful, evocative scenes in the background that give such an insight into life back then. I admire his dedication to his art; he worked so hard throughout his life as well as making a career and being part of a big family. His work makes me happy, I can look at them for hours. Bewick was a great Naturalist, Historian, Craftsman and Artist.


Is there a piece of work you wish you had never made, why?

I made a lot of crap at art school, like a yam set into a huge clear tank with clear jelly surrounding it. My plan was to wear a snorkel around my head but in the end I just let it go moldy. But it’s all learning so I would never wish I had not made something. Making art is all about failing.


If time and money were no object what would you make?

I want to make a huge suit of armor made of watermelons, I would create a huge hall and fill it with banners and rugs all with watermelon motifs on it. I would want the space to smell sweet and juicy and the visitors would be allowed to walk freely around and eat bits of watermelon. I also want to make some huge etchings of hedgehogs and durian (the big spiky fruit).


What would you change about the art school system now, apart of course from the fees?

I would reduce the amount of writing assessments there are, but increase lessons on art history. Make it less rigid and make a really jazzy garden-sculpture park-smoking area on the roof of Camberwell.