Artist blog: John Moores 2016 artist, Julia Warr

Julia Warr was selected to exhibit in John Moores Painting Prize 2016 with her painting, ‘Where do we come from? Where are we going?' Julia utilities grids in her work to create an essence of what she calls 'realistic fiction'. We caught up with her to find out more about her art and how she works.

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What made you enter?

The most compelling reason to apply for the John Moores is the anonymity of the artists to the panel, during the selection process. The work is judged on its own merits, and I applaud this. I was delighted when my work was included in the show, because it pushed my boundaries, and it felt risky.

What inspires you?

I paint figuratively using a grid to map out my subjects although I don’t use enough squares to call them pixellated. I gravitate towards squares, angles, grids, shifts in lines, and disruptions in geometry in anything from a vintage kitted sweater to a Le Corbusier home. Growing older has been an advantage for me, as I’m never short of experiences I can recall for my work.

Why paint?

I graduated from Goldsmiths College in 1999 at the age of 40, having never painted before, with 3 small children. I didn’t know then that painting was going to become a way of life for me. I used to spend months planning my paintings, but now they happen more spontaneously and intuitively, and I can perform and make films alongside my practice.  

Where do we come from? Where are we going? by Julia Warr

“Where do we come from? Where are we going?” by Julia Warr

Tell us about your studio?

We moved to New York in 2006 for 7 years, and I left behind my dream studio. My first studio back in London got knocked down after a year but now I am in the apex of an artists building, with windows on two sides and a good friend next door. I am lucky to have a studio in London at all and cycle over there every day I can, counting my blessings. I have a long, high table where I stand and mix paint with mediums, like a DJ. I paint on canvas stapled directly to the wall, stretching the work only when it’s close to being finished.

What will visitors take away from your work? Do you hope for a certain reaction?

I think of this painting as fresh and even joyful, with a sense of humor too. I hope the viewer smiles when they wonder whether the dancers have their hands in blue pompoms or the sky and I hope they look closely enough to see a fourth dancer in the background, challenging the status quo.