What does this exhibition signify to you? What did you want to show?
Starting this I was really inflated and felt supported because the whole thing was a prize. So I wanted to use this confidence to fan the flames around the women I paint, get the drawing down and have fun with the colours and text. It signifies a shift from the work I was making when I won the prize about a year ago.
How does your work come about? - Do you think its influenced by your own interests or what is currently within society?
I'm not immune to either, both inspire me. I'm really into pop culture, radio, posters, stories etc. and I am wild for audiobooks, I’ve just heard 'The Left Hand of Darkness' by Ursula K. Le Guin, and I love pop lyrics, 'drive on her, I'm bored of you' by Katy B, sounds great.
‘Girls in Boots’ I immediately think of boss-ass women who know what they want and where they're headed- where did the title come from and what meaning does it attach to you?
I have another show coming soon called 'Puss in Boots' like a sexy Christmas party. So I thought of Girls in Boots after that, I love it's possible double meanings; army, night out and steel toe. And 'Above the Law' is from Lil Wayne - Mrs. Officer album, it's full of great puns.
I noticed the first time I got to look at your work, the real shapes you give these girls and women, they aren't waif-like and they really command their own space. Is this a deliberate move or something you've naturally done?
Yeah they are still changing, they are becoming beefier (vegan tho), they are throwing bombs so can't be skinny. I don't think about it in words much, women are great, all shapes.
What do the subjects of your work represent to you? (What does ‘she’ represent to you?)
Sometimes she is my anger about stupid shit that happens to me. I really revel in the irony of some situations, the other day a guy saw my work and we were chatting, and after a bit he's like 'oh yeah I used to love drawing women too, ooh the female form, yeah I like drawing murdered women..' Argh!!
How do you work, methodically or manically?
I have recently started trying to shed the romance that can make me a lazy artist and become more disciplined. Like you get told at school, look at stuff you like (Including everything) sketch, think, develop. Everyday I'm writing a jobs list and make myself tidy up or other practical tasks if I'm waiting for things to dry. I feel like I have set a good standard for myself once this is over.
Best advice you have ever received?
My mum told me to try as hard as I can to avoid working full time for someone else, which she has helped me to achieve. I work freelance, mostly as a scenic painter for theatre, it's a brilliant job, I'd recommend it!
So far what has been your favourite part of this experience?
The residency, it's so valuable, you can really see something happening, you have a solid deadline and have to work it all out. This whole month I'm completely involved, it's pretty much all I'm thinking about.
What other work inspires you?
Artist Paula Rego and painter R. B Kitaj. As well as Little Thunder and Andrey Remnev.
Name something you love and why.
Well here's some things I've been loving this month; Kemet FM, Unison soft pastels, Follow me - Aly-us, curry at Desi Downtown, Katy B - On a mission (full album over and over again), Kym Sims song - Too Blind to See and having tones of space to make work in the Surface project space.
Why is being an artist in Nottingham a good place to be?
Nottingham’s identity is cool, it draws you in, makes you want to get involved. There is a good variety with the galleries, each one seems to have a different formula.
What are you up to next?!
I'm in a collective called Precious back in Leeds, we are organising our side of an exchange project in Amsterdam working with Billytown. And I want to find a print workshop in Leeds!
Zoe Spowage’s Above the Law ‘Girls in Boots’ Exhibition opens on Friday 29th Sept at 6pm and runs until Friday 14th Oct.
Interview by HEB