Joanne Hummel-Newell on how her new venture Foal Arts was inspired by her childhood on the Isle of Wight. Interview: Alex Fisher
I moved to the Isle of Wight when I was five. Although I left the island to study art in London, I returned with my husband after completing my masters at the Royal College of Art. Growing up, I spent a lot of time on the beach, walking my dog or riding my horse, so now, when I am by the coast, I can access that feeling of being a child.
The sea is hugely influential in my work. When I first moved back – which was initially to curate the Quay Arts gallery in Newport – I was still focused on a more urban landscape and therefore influenced by the kitsch ephemera you find in the traditional seaside towns around the island. More recently, my work has become an emotional response to the sea, often inspired by my childhood experiences. My dad built his own boat when I was young and my memories of sailing with him are of both happy, family times, but also terrifying times when we were caught in storms. I use motives and marks to illustrate these two opposing forces: the power, threat and energy, with the calm and reassuring. That is the nature of the sea.
The Isle of Wight attracts a lot of artists. Creative people need a quiet space to think, they need to see the horizon, and the island offers that in abundance. Last year my husband and I converted a chapel into six art studios and founded Foal Arts, so that we can help find funding for the professional development of local artists. This is where we both want to live, so we’d like to support our community. By helping other artists, we are also helping ourselves.
Find out about the studios by visiting foalarts.org.uk.