Artist Interview

Chichester Art Trail Artists

A studio interview with Sylvia and Paul Kopeček

On to our third studio visit now. So far, Ellen and I have been to see Malcolm Macdonald in his pottery and Polly Dutton in her painting studio. This time we thought it would be interesting to visit two artists, husband and wife Sylvia and Paul Kopeček, who work alongside each other in a shared studio in the garden of their home in Merston. Here’s what we discovered…

Paul’s exquisite small items of furniture, are completely covered in paintwork; the imagery is related to the shape of the surface and is sourced from the history of art, religious iconography, Moorish patterning, contemporary society and things observed or imagined.

Sylvia’s work is strongly figurative. As with many painters it includes drawing, mixed media, fabric and print, dealing with what is seen, remembered and reflected upon.

Both have answered our questions below. I would like to thank them for allowing us to take tea and Eccles cakes, in the company of a gently purring Violetta, in such a calm and creative environment. Their studio will be open on the 2018 Art Trail in May.

... We work very differently; our methodologies are different. Working in the same environment has had an impact on our approach to making art. I believe that this comes mainly from shared experiences.
Nicola Hancock

How long have you been at this studio?

Paul Kopeček

Seven Years

Sylvia Kopeček

The studio was designed about 7 years ago. I am also working in a new studio which gives me more space.

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Nicola Hancock

What is your favourite feature of the studio?

Paul Kopeček

It is a beautiful building.

Sylvia Kopeček

It’s good to have discussions on a range of topics, some entirely unrelated to art. That’s the great benefit of sharing a studio space.

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Nicola Hancock

What is a normal day in the studio like for you?

Paul Kopeček

A few hours painting whilst listening to the spoken word on the radio/iplayer or to music.

Sylvia Kopeček

Currently I spend 6 or so hours a day working up a drawing over a period of 3 or more weeks then a break for re-appraisal of the work. I go back to it when I think I can see it afresh.

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Nicola Hancock

How have you adapted the studio to assist and develop your artistic practice?

Paul Kopeček

The studio was purpose built.

Sylvia Kopeček

I haven’t adapted the space in which I work. I have an easel some large wooden boards, wall space and a table.

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Nicola Hancock

What changes to your studio, that you are unable to make, would you make if possible?

Paul Kopeček

To extend the building.

Sylvia Kopeček

The studio is simply a space. It’s a good space but, nevertheless, if I needed to work at the kitchen table or even just to work outside, I would do that.

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Nicola Hancock

What time of year do you most enjoy your studio? 

Paul Kopeček

All year round. Summer is great with the doors open and it is a rewarding space to retreat to in winter.

Sylvia Kopeček

I like working in the studio in winter. That’s because I can see a line of ancient trees from one direction on the horizon and a group of very tall poplars and an old maple across the field to the right of the studio. The skies are ever changing, I enjoy these things immensely. I’m not a landscape painter, though I do steal images from looking at hedgerows, fields and bare trees.

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Nicola Hancock

Do you find you influence each other's work? Do you ever work together on projects?

Paul Kopeček

We have always influenced each other. It is only natural. We may help each other but we have rarely worked on specific projects together.

Sylvia Kopeček

We work very differently; our methodologies are different. Working in the same environment has had an impact on our approach to making art. I believe that this comes mainly from shared experiences, for example, Spanish culture and continuously studying the history of art and design. We have collaborated on a few pieces of little consequence, though I think we could possibly work on something in the future.

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Nicola Hancock

When you are creatively lost or frustrated how does the studio inspire you?

Paul Kopeček

I would not describe myself as someone who becomes creatively lost or frustrated. I go into the studio to paint. If the work appears to be unsatisfactory I change or correct things, or I focus on something else, in the studio or elsewhere, until I realise what the solution might be. The studio plays no real part in this process.

Sylvia Kopeček

That’s not what inspires me, it’s ideas.

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Nicola Hancock

What projects are you working on at the moment in the studio?

Paul Kopeček

Making paintings on tables.

Sylvia Kopeček

Some large figurative drawings based on religious and cultural contexts.

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Nicola Hancock

What is a ‘studio’ to you?

Paul Kopeček

Our studio is a fine oak building in the garden across from the house. It is a place to think, make and reflect.

Sylvia Kopeček

It’s a work environment.

Photographic Credit: Ellen Hancock
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