Firstly, tell us about yourself.
I live and work in Edinburgh. I draw : hundreds of small drawings on paper ; and “alternative” forms of drawings - wall-drawings, long durational performance-drawing, live drawing in theatre, and more recently, printmaking. I have two kids, Molly, 14, and James, 5.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I have a small studio at Rhubaba and I am undertaking an RSA residency at Edinburgh Printmakers, and the rest of the time I work from home. I never stopped working even when my kids were born, breastfeeding nearly only from my left boob to be able to draw with my right hand! However now that my youngest is at school I am able to go into the studios more often, 3 days a week at EP and 2 days in my own studio, and I work from home at weekends. I get up really early and don’t need much sleep so this gives me more time. And the kids know now how important my work is for me and they work around that.
Have you come up against specific challenges as an artist and mother? What were they and how have you navigated these challenges?
“The children squeezed into her life as a painter, their needs competing with her own insatiable obsession with painting”.
I can’t remember where this quote comes from but it sums up quite well my experience of being an artist and a mother. The biggest challenge is the time and attention the kids need and having to do this on my own all the time. Organisation and multitasking are key! This also means living with little means since I don’t earn very much money from my artistic activity and have no time to do anything else.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Who are your role models? Who or what inspires and encourages you?
My role models often seem to come from my books; recently I read Thomas Bernhard’s ‘Correction’, and the main character’s obsessive relationship to his work fascinated me. Artistically I am inspired by Louise Bourgeois, Francis Bacon, Paul van der Eerden, medical illustration and outsider art(ists), amongst others…
How has the experience of motherhood impacted your practice on an emotional/intellectual level? Has it made you view yourself/your work differently? Are there things that influence your work now that you didn't think about pre-kids?
I think I was completely unprepared for the shock of becoming a mother and how this would take over my whole life and identity. I took quite a long time to adapt but my work was like a refuge during all this time, somewhere I could escape to. Motherhood is omnipresent (the everyday care, the constant worry - the kids are part of me) and yet not crucial because it’s a given. The influence it has on my work is not direct but rather linked to how being a mother/woman is an inherent part of my identity and experience, and this can be seen in my subject matter which is mainly the (female) body.
If your child(ren) were asked “Tell me about your mother” what do you hope they would say? Are there particular things you are trying to show/teach them as an artist, a mother, a woman?
“My mum’s an artist, and she works a lot, and I like what she makes”. I hope I am showing them that working at something you love is a great thing and worth some sacrifices. And I hope to teach them to work hard, to be independent and to live life to the full.
What drives you to continue to create work?
Some kind of strange compulsion. It’s the only thing that really makes me happy.
Flore Gardner a Scottish-French artist living and working in Edinburgh. Before obtaining her PhD in Fine Art at the Sorbonne University in Paris in 2007, she studied medicine for 2 years at Edinburgh University, and this has largely influenced her drawing practice.
Flore has been exhibiting her work in the UK and internationally (France, China, Finland, USA, Norway) since 2004. In 2016 she participated in a Space/Time residency (Magnetic North) at Cove Park, and it was in the wake of this experience that she took the decision to concentrate solely on her drawing practice, up until then a hidden, secret activity.
In 2017, while she was one of the lead artists in the Rough Mix residency (Magnetic North), she met writer and theatre-maker Annie George with whom I collaborated to make Twa. This theatre piece premiered at the Scottish Storytelling Centre during the Edinburgh Fringe 2018. Flore created projected animated drawings and drew live during the performances.