Looking closely at one of Luke Ramsey‘s images, one sees the big bold shapes dissolve into a chaos of squiggles only to find new patterns emerging. Somehow he manages to distill the sense of order and chaos found in nature into his work. From his home studio in Pender Island (BC) Luke Ramsey works independently and in collaboration with the many artists participating in his Islands Fold residency.
We’ve read your work described as belonging to “The Psychedooolia Movement”. Can you tell us what it means to you?
I wouldn’t say that I belong to any particular group, but referring to Psychedooolia does trace back to some creative roots. I don’t think it was ever considered a movement, but I like to think of it as one. Psychedooolia is a term coined by artist Marc Bell, who has been a positive influence on my work. Marc used the term to describe a book he compiled titled “Nog A Dod”.
The book features a variety of artists who I’ve identified with in the context of artists who make zines, mail art and primarily make drawings. I have collaborated with Marc and various artists in this collection. Such interactions inspired me to have lots of collaborations over the years.
We love how your work’s convoluted lines, nested within even more convoluted patterns and shapes, mimic strange forms found in nature. Can you tells us where you find inspiration for your subjects and style?
Thanks. I love connecting to nature. A few years ago I hiked into a forest and sat in front of a tree. I wanted to draw every detail of that tree. After drawing for a few hours, I realized I couldn’t do it. It became a chore and I was overwhelmed with the detail and complexity of the this tree. It was taking up too much of my thought. I realized that to express this kind of detail in my work, it had to be thoughtless and free flowing, just like the energy in nature.
My art is about organizing chaos and celebrating harmony with it. From a distance, you can look at a tree in a forest and it looks peaceful. When you look up close to it, you see insects getting eaten by birds, fungi taking over other life forms, decay and creation. It’s chaotic, but it’s all organized within the form of the tree. I think about my drawings like this.
Much of your work is in the form of murals. How do you feel about work in public spaces as opposed to work on paper, canvas, etc…?
To me, public art is a balance between responsibility and being unattached to the work. The responsibility is about personally caring about the message in the work. Being unattached is about not being offended by how people react to it. People who want to find the kind of art I make, can go looking for it online or in print. When it’s public, nobody’s looking for it and I like that element.
How did you come to start up your Islands Fold artist residency? Can you tell us about the program and your experiences with the many artists you’ve collaborated with?
Islands Fold came about to combine by interest in art and my wife’s interest in health and nutrition. I had a 6 week residency at The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire in 2005, and that had a huge influence on me wanting to create a residency.
Right now, we’re putting residencies on hold, so I can focus on personal projects and prepare for the next chapter of Islands Fold. For the first 3 years we hosted 30 different artists. I would invite artists that I wanted to work with and would also consider submissions
An artist would stay with us for a week. We’d supply accommodation and good food free of charge. We’d fund the cause by selling work that artists donated. During the residencies we’d hang-out, make art, eat food and enjoy life. It’s really special to get to know the person behind the work.
Islands Fold has been a wonderful experience for this. I wouldn’t be able to briefly mention all the fun collaborative experiences-there’s been a lot which I’m happy about.
Given unlimited resources to direct a movie, what kind/genre would you make?
That’s the best interview question ever. Describing the genre would be difficult, but I’d probably co-direct with R.Kelly and make another 22 chapters of Trapped In The Closet. We’d cast Natalie Portman, Viggo Mortensen and Paul Vasquez.
Anything on the horizon we can look forward to from you?
If I don’t get in touch with R.Kelly, I plan to release and tour a sci-fi book in 2012.
S&TM:We want to thank Luke Ramsey for doing this interview and sharing his awesome work with us!
All images © 2011 Luke Ramsey.