Posted 14th May 2018
Chloe Cheese (b.1952) sidestepped from the Great Bardfield experience, though it still forms a large part of her artistic make-up. She moved to the village as a toddler – the eldest child of artists Bernard Cheese and Sheila Robinson.
'As a little girl, I visited the studios of the artists of Great Bardfield as an everyday occurrence. Edward Bawden's studio felt huge, and was of pristine whiteness, with brushes neatly arranged in containers, and a printing press with a black eagle perched on top. Who could fail to be drawn in by this magical environment?'
Her mother, designer and artist Sheila Robinson, encouraged Chloe to make work in her own way, rather than stick to the established rules, and – influenced by the work of Bonnard, Braque and Matisse – Chloe developed her own distinctive visual language. After school in Saffron Walden, Chloe studied at Cambridge School of Art, before moving on to the Royal College of Art in London.
She initially worked as an illustrator (including a cookbook for Antonio Carluccio), and this skill and experience has continued to inform her painting and prints across the years. Like Richard Bawden, Chloe is drawn to depict the details of domestic life – an interestingly-shaped vegetable, a bowl in front of a window – but she also loves the quirkiness in scenes outside. 'I used to concentrate almost exclusively on still life, attracted by the semi-abstract possibilities, and a love of objects. Many of the things I draw I inherited from my mother, and I draw these because they contain a personal weight of memory which contributes to the image. I am interested in passing time – the way in which our history impacts on the present – often just as a subconscious background. More recently, architecture and people have crept into my work more often.'
Chloe Cheese lives and works in Forest Hill in South East London. Her works are included in the collections of Tate Britain, Sheffield City Art Gallery, The Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Museum of London, and private collections worldwide.
Methods of working
Starting from drawings made in situ (at home, in France or in Italy), Chloe then selects from the image, and pares back to the objects that interest her – observing them even more closely. So her pictures act as triggers of memories – evoking particular moments and places for her, which often find echoes in the lives of other viewers. 'I am happy for people to find their own relationship with my work as – after all – that is the pleasure of image over words: looking at a picture can evoke different feelings in the same person over time.
Richard and I share the quiet sense of humour of our parents in our observation of our surroundings and both rely on observational drawing as the framework for our images.
Etching is a printmaking technique which I returned to after long absence (beginning again in 2015). My recent Venice work was made last year as I visit Venice every other year with friends. I like to work in places like Venice and Dieppe which are familiar but also not too familiar so that one sees everything as an outsider while making drawings which leads to more thought and engagement than taking a photo which one looks at later. Venice is a city where many artists have worked so one must identify ones own interests and direction here. In particular I like everyday life which has carried on for centuries against the backdrop of the famous city so I am very much recording Venice in my own era.'
See Cheese's work on display in Reflections: The observant art of Richard Bawden and Chloë Cheese at Watts Contemporary Gallery until Sunday 10 June.