Keir Downey is a multidisciplinary artist based in England where he was educated at the prestigious Bradford Grammar School under a contemporary of David Hockney. It was here that he found his passion for art, in particular, painting. He had previously considered a career in rugby until a long-term injury thwarted his plans and made him reconsider his future. After school he went to study at Bradford Art College, Cumbria Institute of the Arts and Lancaster University before recently completing his MA in Arts Practice with UEA and the University of Essex.
Throughout his life Keir has travelled to and resided in many different countries however it was his time in Switzerland during his mid twenties that pushed him towards his current work. Living on the shores of Lake Geneva in Montreux he was inspired by the light and the relentless changing of colours along the water and landscape. Colours feature heavily within Keir’s work and as a consequence, he sees himself equally a colourist and mark maker. Having been raised in the Yorkshire Dales, nature has always played a major part in his work even if it wasn’t apparently visual.
“ The places that I have visited and the experiences I have had all manifest themselves within my work. When I paint, it essentially becomes an outpouring of all these memories and feelings. The subject of my work is essentially just a trigger. It becomes a performance between the canvas, the paint, and my emotions.”
Keir hasn’t always been a painter; he initially trained as a painter but was fascinated with commercial art and the immediateness of Graphic Design, which he pursued at BA level. It was here that he developed a multidisciplinary approach, being fascinated by both modern and traditional practices. In his current work he has worked within a number of different disciplines most recently with his work based around ‘Food’. This multidisciplinary approach is very important to his practice.
“It is important to remain fluid in one’s practice. If something is forced to work in one particular medium then the work will loose all sense of purpose. Paint is just one medium out of a plethora that could be used and so as an artist one must have a diverse understanding and appreciation of what could be possible and the processes involved.”
This he sees as being the major problem with the recent context of painting.
“With the invention of the camera, people thought this would bring about the death of painting. However, even though it had fallen out of fashion due to a bit of an identity crisis it was more to do with artists not realizing the remarkable power and diversification such a simple medium can have.”
Keir’s work speaks from his soul. He often walks into his studio and has no fixed notion of what will happen and he often leaves it stunned having metaphorically thrown everything at the canvas.
“ How can one simple medium which in its truest form is just pigment and oil cause so much excitement and frustration simultaneously in addition to speaking from the soul.”
It is this experience that makes painting such a necessary process for Keir and his practice and even though he does work with a diverse range of materials and processes. He will always be a painter.