Studio Visit: Anna Gillespie
July 2018 | Bath, UK
We were greeted by Anna with a warm hug in her Bath studio. The studio is a small extension of the house where she lives with her husband and two teenage sons. The space, as one would expect from an artist’s studio, is filled with work-in-progress models, finished sculptures, drawings, tools and a seating area piled with books by artists and designers like Michael Craig-Martin and Alexander McQueen, and quotes scattered on the wall from Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky.
“Once, my dad looked at my hands and said, ‘You are a sculptor!’”
Anna’s path to becoming a sculptor was not a straightforward one. Her parents were both artists: “Once, my dad looked at my hands and said, ‘You are a sculptor!’”, Anna remembered. But she rebelled against her father’s wishes and chose a completely different path. Instead of art, she went on to study Philosophy, Economics and Politics at Oxford University and later International Relations at the London School of Economics. After graduation, she was offered a PR job in London, mostly working with celebrities. But the work did not make her happy; she felt like a stranger in the PR world. Eventually, she quit the job and switched to sculpture. “Sculpture is my home. This is what I want to do”, said Anna.
“Sculpture is my home. This is what I want to do”
Anna’s work has undoubtedly benefited from the wealth of knowledge she gained from her earlier studies. However, she did struggle at times with philosophy, and feels much more comfortable and happy with sculpture. It is a vehicle for her to comprehend world events such as the environmental and refugee crises, and a way to explore and cope with her inner self. As a mother of two, raising her children while continuing to produce art was a challenge. The emotional and physical changes of being an artist as well as a mother have led her to produce a new series of works.
When I asked her why she chose to do sculpture, she replied: “A tiny bit of me fears that if I knew the answer, I might stop. It’s a magic, why one keeps bloody doing it. Why?”