Multi-talented artist and photographer Roksana Dawidowska is about to embark on a new artistic adventure as she travels across the water to undertake a degree in Fine Art. Here she speaks to The Impartial Reporter about her biggest influences, why she doesn't like to limit herself when it comes down to medium and her favourite project to date.

JC: What is your artistic background?

RD: An artistic interest has always been present throughout my life. I always took part in Art competitions even when I still lived in Poland, as a child. I then studied Art and Design at Erne Integrated College at GCSE level, and continued my art studies by doing A-Level art. I was personally very lucky that my school also offered photography A-Level; which I quickly fell in love with. Most recently, this year, I have completed my Foundation Diploma in Art and Design; so I have only completed general studies.

JC: What inspires your art?

RD: Currently, people; alive or dead. Whether that be from my surroundings or research, but I feel inspired by a lot of things: stories, movies, books, nature, music, to name a few but I haven’t yet found ways of expressing from those.

JC: Who/what are your biggest influences?

RD: When it comes to portraiture – painting and photographing, I get influenced by the people who come into my life, trying to capture a bit of them in each final piece is essential for me. And this mindset comes from a mix of influences, ranging from the portrait masters such as Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent with their oil painting skills and techniques to Jelena Bulajic charcoal work, in which she strips the face to layers and uses this as the focus of not expressing what she sees but documenting it as it is onto paper, allowing the face to speak for itself. When I look at Bulajics artwork I feel the connection with the person, rather than with the artwork, which must be a very special experience in real life, especially given the size of her work. I also get influenced by photographers such as Hellen Van Meene who creates absolutely breath taking portraits which often look like paintings in a very surreal style, with very strong modern aesthetics.

On the other hand, when it comes to my still life photography, I mainly get influenced by Spanish and Dutch still life painters such as Sánchez Cotán or/and Pieter Claesz, whom as you may know created very intricate paintings depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically everyday objects which were either natural or man-made during the 17th century. Whilst I love classical masterpieces, I am also a great fan of modern food photography, my first and biggest influence would come from the Irish food Photographer Hellen Cathcart, who is currently based in London but often travels around the world with her equipment. And although it may seem like the two are very different in style, their fundamental skills are very alike and have greatly influenced my still life photography.

JC: Is there a specific place that you do your work?

RD: In the past, I created my art in school. My school environment was excellent for creating art. After completing my A-Levels last year at Erne Integrated College I decided to invest in a space of my own; so I bought myself a shed. Now I happily create in my own little studio shed.

JC: What has been your most ambitious piece to date?

RD: In the last two months of my A-Levels, I was reminded that the 160x120cm canvas which was personally stretched for me months ago, was still untouched. I had just finished one of my first oil painted portraits at the time (which was around A4 in size -painting of Patricia) And had decided on the spot, to challenge myself to complete this massive naked canvas in oil paint – which was still very new to me and the most unsettling part was that it had a sharp finishing deadline for the examiner by the end of the school year; which left me with under two months! And to be perfectly honest with you, at that stage I’d never even seen a painting that size with my own eyes, never mind considered to create one! And although I didn’t finish it to the standard I hoped, when I was painting at such a grand scale I felt part of the process. There was something special in the movement this scale forced upon me, and it was the first time I felt a strong connection with the process of painting. So not only is it my most ambitious piece to date, it also has the strongest connection with me, regardless of my perfectionism which gets in the way of the visual outcome.

JC: What different artistic mediums do you use and which is your favourite?

RD: I am used to working with oil paint, charcoal and my camera, but I don’t think I want to ever limit myself when it comes to mediums, at least not in the foreseeable future. I have a lot of trial and error experimenting ahead of me before I can even consider putting myself in a box of one or two favourite mediums.

JC: Any new artistic ventures planned for 2019?

RD: Yes! In September I will be attending my first year at Arts University of Bournemouth. I will be undertaking the course Fine Art. I am very excited to be starting this new journey, in a new location, with new people.

JC: What are you currently working on?

RD: Commissions; I am in the middle of doing portrait commissions in oil paint and photography which has helped me greatly to gather money for university.

JC: What has been your favourite project to date?

RD: It would have to be my first photography project called “faces different but the same” which took part in last year's Fermanagh Live Arts Festival, exhibited at Fermanagh House. I loved how interactive this project was; it gave me the possibility to connect deeper with a wider group of people, which I normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to. During this project I also greatly improved my photography skills which was a very exciting time for me.

JC: What are you up to when you aren’t creating art?

RD: Capturing things around me; whether that be quick snapshots of people getting on with life or a full on photo shoot of arranged objects.

I’m also a great appreciator of music – live music. Jazz is my current favourite, its elegant but playful. I am just back from the Sligo Jazz Festival and I just feel refuelled, ready to get stuck into another project. Watching passionate people re-energises me and inspires me in many ways.

JC: How would you describe your artistic style?

RD: Up to now it has been very classical; realistic portraits, classical still life – essentially capturing beauty, but I really hope to expand my subject matter - explore some figurative painting and drawing but mainly spend time finding how to express my ideas and myself through art. I am very much at the beginning of my artistic journey therefore I may be as confused as you are about what I really do and why, but I am very excited to have more opportunities at university which will allow me to explore my ideas and options.