Zoe Hyde’s inner child is in her new work at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton

Artist Zoe Hyde, who has an exhibition at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, until Saturday, October 24, is a successful young woman, but still very much in touch with her inner child. Deborah Smith spoke to her

Zoe’s work is evolving. It used to be about memory, but it is moving into the ‘now.’ She still uses drawings kept by her parents from her childhood, and as her work evolves these are linked in, but her current themes are more about her own mortal presence.

“I used to do work based on my own childhood drawings. Children’s drawings have such energy, it keeps things fresh. I can take a tiny drawing of my own, literally two inches high, and scale it up to 6ft,” she said.

“I prefer to work on board, I can cut it, gouge it, attack it! I then add images of my world and current events in and around. I find that by using a sketchbook you can record the things that you are drawn to, the things you like. It’s whatever drives you. With me it’s psychological. I’m not sure why. I’m just interested in what goes on beneath people’s thoughts, how they appear and what’s really going on. There’s so much depth beneath.

“As part of my degree I studied Jung. I like people to draw their own associations with my work. It’s autobiographical and personal but I hope it draws other’s people’s lives out too. I hope they make their own links to what they’re looking at.”

Zoe gets through a sketch book every month. She visits cities such as London and Bristol to find her reference and inspiration. Having taken a foundation year at Plymouth, Zoe graduated from the Kent Institute in Canterbury with a BA in Fine Arts where she specialised in painting. She noted at the time that there were not many others exploring this medium on her course and thinks this is a shame. “It’s good to see painting” she explains.

Another tool in her artistic armoury is the digital camera – Zoe takes photographs for reference all the time where ever she goes, capturing people within the environment, in urban locations, people dancing, in clubs, at festivals.

“I am drawn to graffiti, to posters peeling off walls, images worn away by marks and scratches, they all weave their way into my work. It’s as if they’re textures and surfaces from another world,” she said.

The images of urban culture contrast strongly with the rural landscape surrounding Zoe’s studio, which is situated in an environment where land meets sea. To Zoe, these blurred external boundaries are symbolic of different states of mind, how things overlap in her stream of consciousness, with the unconscious swimming up through her conscious mind.

She paints what’s there in the conventional landscape then adds what’s in her sketchbooks, using extracts of information, and this evolves into a landscape viewed through shapes and composition, with the viewer seeing more of both the artists inner and outer worlds.

Zoe is getting more involved with studies of the countryside, the coast, the sea and its environment. This is a definite influence. Even when she goes walking or camping she makes drawings. The sea is an essential factor in her life and work. The weather influences her too. When it’s sunny and glorious the coast is dramatic with its sedimentation and rock formations, its smuggler’s territory up there where the coast is edged by the Atlantic and this excites Zoe a lot! For example, a rock may look like a head on its side, and this will appear in her painting. She often sees figures in rock formations and is always looking for these apparitions.

Zoe currently teaches on the Fine Art degree course at North Devon college in Barnstaple. Her work can be seen at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, until Saturday, October 24 and at University College, Falmouth, until Thursday, September 10.