Inspired by childhood holidays in the UK, Malta-born illustrator Roxanne Gatt changed directions “abruptly” from studying A-level Maths and Physics to packing her suitcase for Central Saint Martins, where she is in her last year on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design course. Working with mixed media – painting, drawing, film, and photography – Gatt explores themes of religion, identity, and social behavior in her provocative and surreal pieces. 1 Granary asked the budding artist, who plans to continue her education on the MA, about her methodology and how literature serves as her initial inspiration.
Tell us about yourself. Your background, your journey to CSM. When did you start drawing? What were your motivation to continue doing it professionally and go and study in CSM?
I was born on the small island of Malta and it was during holidays, visiting the Tate, and looking at a Max Beckmann painting for the first time (not knowing who he was) that made me realise I had an interest that I hadn’t noticed before. I spent most of my teenage years playing football and although I enjoyed drawing from a young age, it was only at the age of 18 that I realised it was more than just drawing but rather a passion. I knew that CSM was an amazing school, because my twin sister was always into fashion, and would apply for prospectuses from UAL, which is how I first got introduced to the school, however the idea of going abroad to study always felt like a distant dream. The journey to CSM was in reality quite abrupt, after two and a half years studying A-level Maths and Physics with the aim of pursuing a career in architecture, I changed direction after realising that these years were basically spent out of school drawing and reading. I decided I wanted to go to CSM and after getting my foundation diploma I grabbed a suitcase put in it all the work that I had managed to do in a year and went for the interview.
Tell us about your work. What does it mean to you?
My work is all the time changing, but it has become more consistent when it comes to the themes that I work with. Religion, gender, identity, innocence, and social norms, are often issues addressed in my work. The choice of media varies all the time, though I regularly work with painting, drawing, film and photography. Writing poetry or stories is the starting point for most of the work I do. Most of the time my practice is a self-expression or an explosion of what is going through my mind at that time, whether it is fictional or not. My work gives me satisfaction when some people find themselves able to relate to the piece of work, in the same way (or not) to the way I do. The way I think that my poetry rhymes gives me great satisfaction too!
Tell us about your course and other kids in your class? Is it what you have expected?
The course has taught me a lot in these past few years and has helped me to develop a more honest practice. Sometimes I wish that there was more of a “school” environment, that there were more chances to meet and share ideas on a daily basis or work alongside each other in studios within the school. Having said this some of the students in my class and also tutors have been a great inspiration to me, and I am very grateful for this.
What could you advise to someone who wants to apple to Graphic Design course in CSM?
If you are passionate about it, go for it! It is a great learning experience, you get to learn new skills, become more confident and meet interesting people. Personally, I would say that the most important thing is that you get to learn who you are much better.
What is the best thing you’ve learnt so far on the course?
Doing my own context project didn’t just teach me about research but I also had to delve deeper into a subject that interests me. The reading and writing was immensely fruitful but the design process that followed was as exciting.
What are you plans after graduation?
I am planning to do an MA in visual communication.
What is the biggest source of inspiration for you?
People watching, men’s magazines, trashy newspapers, the catholic church, my country, things that may be regarded as ugly because really I find them beautiful, awkwardness and willies.
Can you give us a list of your 5 favourite artists so that we can get a little bit inspired as well?
Francis Picabia, Shana Maulton, Alec Soth, Harmony Korine, David Hockney
Check more of Roxanne’s work here.