Hang-Up Meets Joe Webb
Editorial / Artists

Hang-Up Meets Joe Webb

15 Apr 2021

In the first of an occasional series of interviews with the gallery’s artists, we caught up with Joe Webb, the master of collage-based manipulation, to find out how the pandemic has affected his work, where he finds inspiration, and why robots might stop us from destroying the world…

Voyage, original collage on paper, 2021.

Voyage, original collage on paper, 2021.

Hang-Up: Why did you first become an artist?

Joe Webb: I always made art as a youngster, so it was just a natural thing to work as an artist. I went on to study Fine Art at Farnham Art School. I was working on all sorts of artworks there, some collage, but also experimental photography – making keyhole cameras and pouring bleach onto photo paper then silkscreening onto it! I never really found my artistic identity at the time. It’s been a long process to get to what I’m doing today.

HU: What drew you to making collage?

JW: I like the ability to ‘remix’ found images. It’s similar to when I produced music years ago, finding old records to sample and reinvent into a new idea. I usually find my materials in antique shops and bookstores. During the lockdown I’ve had to use eBay instead!

Joe Webb at work creating one of his editions

Joe Webb at work creating one of his editions

HU: How else has the pandemic changed your work?

JW: My recent paintings that I’ve been making in lockdown are quite different to my previous work. They are more loose and experimental. Most of them are unfinished and quite personal to me. I might not even try to sell them, just keep them in my studio forever! I think the whole Covid experience has us all wishing we’d been more appreciative of the everyday things in life, and not to sweat the small stuff. Recently I’ve got less caught up in politics and become more appreciative of the experience of life. To be happy with just being healthy and present in the moment is important to me.

HU: A lot of your work focuses on the big issues facing humankind. Are you upbeat about our future?

JW: A lot of the collages explore issues about the environment and the damage we do to the Earth….I use a lot of space imagery, as I like to zoom out and question our place in the universe, and remind us of what a mind boggling thing it is to be hurtling through space on a ball of rock. I try to be optimistic, but sometimes it is hard to see how we can reverse a lot of the damage we are doing to the environment. Hopefully technology will save us – or maybe the robots will take over...

HU: Speaking of technology, you’re a big hit on social media. Has it changed the way you work and do you feel pressure to communicate regularly through your channels?

JW: Instagram has been a great format to share my ideas and artwork. There’s a bit of pressure to keep posting new things, but that’s ok - it motivates me to keep working.

HU: Are you inspired by any other artists?

JW: I really love Peter Doig’s paintings. He just does his own thing, not following fads or fashions. His ’Swamped’ painting is especially amazing – chaotic but incredibly balanced.

HU: Finally, where do you create your work?

JW: I make the collages at my home studio: it's where I store all of my books so I have the materials to hand. I have a separate painting studio that I rent down the road on an old farm, somewhere I can make a mess and throw paint around without any distractions. I made the choice to move out into the countryside after living in London and Brighton for a number of years. I started to find it claustrophobic and I wanted more space to work. I’m still only 15 miles from Brighton…so I have the best of both worlds and can pop into town for a coffee when I’ve had enough of being chased by cows on my walk home from the studio (which has happened a few times).

Want more Joe Webb?

Explore a curated selection of original collages and rare limited editions by Joe Webb in the viewing room below...

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