Q&As with Fay Collins

What’s your background?

I studies ‘A’ Levels and Art Foundation in York, then moved away to art college.  Following a PGCE in Cardiff I taught Art & Design in secondary schools for twenty odd years, including Whitby’s 14-19 community college.  I then crossed the Pennines to Lancashire and have been based there ever since.  Looking back I have realised how significant it is for me to be in close proximity to wilder places where I can explore by foot or bike and I am lucky enough to live near the coast, countryside and mountains of Morecambe Bay.

Explain what you do

The force behind my work is derived from my responses to observing natural beauty in landscape.  I am drawn time and time again to the dramatic colours and wealth of textures present in mountain, coast and rural environments, particularly in the north west regions of the UK.  When possible, I enjoy immersing myself in wilder, more remote places such as the Hebridean Isles for their unpredictable weather and rugged coastlines.  In contrast, the calm and serenity of water features when the weather calms, is an irresistible subject to explore, particularly if reflections are involved.  I use mainly oils for their vibrant colour and versatility.

What five words best describe your work?

Descriptive, colourful, evocative, reflective, sensitive.

What are you working on at the moment?

It has been pretty wet this year (more than usual) and I have found myself drawn to swamps, puddles, lakes and any other still bodies of water that reflect/partially reveal natural objects.  Much of the work I have made is held in/for exhibition in galleries in the North of England.  I have also started learning about printmaking techniques and have been inspired to use images based on seaweeds from the Isle of Mull and underwater kelp forests in currents.

Which three artists most inspire you?

I try to gain something from looking at any historical or contemporary visual art.  I would love to spend more time in front of Turner’s paintings!  My first ever essay was about the Arts & Crafts Movement so I have an appreciation of the Pre-Raphaelites, but I don’t necessarily seek them out!  Lastly, I would have to say John Piper, I once viewed a private collection in York when I was about 17 and the memory of his work has endured.

What the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Just do it.”

Favourite or most inspirational place in Yorkshire

I love the bleak moorland, but the wide horizon of the North Sea and its rugged coastline is a visual feast.

Tell us something we don’t know

Despite gaining a First Class Honours in Fashion/Textiles (Embroidery), I am the least fashion conscious person I know!  I taught myself how to paint by “just doing it” and haven’t looked back since.


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