Heathers work is inspired from studying the English conversation piece, as she is interested in the parallels between the eighteenth century narrative and the 21st century social networking sites; they both seem to mask an underlying truth. The works of William Hogarth, James Gillray and Thomas Gainsborough have all been an influence on her enquiry. While images by Paula Rego, Alice Neel, Eric Fischl and John Currin have informed her painting practices, along with the contemporary satire of David Shrigley, Steve Bell and Glen Baxter.
The figures in her paintings are defined by their social situations, and she uses these situations to help create an almost theatrical spatial frame, which has a familiarity but is not a realistic representation. Heather refers to our consumer driven society by creating a choreographed environment containing a multi –layered set of narratives that play upon childhood memories and questions issues linked to our cultural heritage. She creates each piece of work from studying fragments of collected media images, many of them torn from glossy advertising, newspaper supplements and interior design magazines. Then, through the slow painting process she explores the gesture, social interaction and social games we play. “When I paint I am exploring the double nature of gesture, its silencing and its relevance for truth, because the gestures that are being made by the figures in my paintings are silencing a truth”. What emerges is a humorous awkwardness beneath the colourful and spontaneously applied surface of the paint.
In her recent work she explores more fully the way the narratives of British culture, intertwined with the myths and ideals of Britishness are embedded in our culture and how these myths are reinforced through the objects we choose, the clothes we wear, the magazines we read and the social groups we choose to be “seen” with. Heather zooms in on real life expression, quirky behaviour, humorous vignettes and the tangled web of relationships that create a certain type of theatricality.
Through the medium of painting, drawing and etching she continues to consider the larger idea of the ‘national’ (history, tradition, character and values).
Heathers dialogue is with the Spectacle and History painting…a merger of contemporary culture and art history.