Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Across the Pennines for an interview with Mr Finch

At the moment, my Year 8 classes are making three-dimensional moths and butterflies out of wire and fabric. The talented Mr Finch is their main artistic inspiration and as we discussed his work in preparation for their artist study, I found that the pupils were bursting with questions to ask him. To save Mr Finch from being bombarded with 62 separate emails (!), I collated their thoughts and we were delighted that he was able to take the time to answer them all. Thank you Mr Finch! You can read their questions and his replies below.
Did you like Art at school and were you good at it?
I did like Art at school ...actually I loved it. I had a really fab teacher who gave us a lot of freedom. If you have a great teacher, then it makes the world of difference and often you don't realise just how good your teacher was until you are older.
What inspired you to be an artist?
I never wanted to be anything else.  It was never a conscious decision to become an artist. I just always felt the strong urge to be creative. I knew that the only way that I could be truly happy was to do it as much art I could and hopefully one day make a living out of it. I am very lucky to be doing it as my job, but it is still a job and I have to work very hard at it.  But it is the best thing in the world.
What is your favourite thing about nature?
I love how nature is an endless source of inspiration, it is everywhere you just have to look. I live in the city and I still see midnight foxes and secret magpies building nests into the roof from where I live. There is always something new to see or learn and there are always new species being found every year.
Why did you go into Textiles?
I moved into Textiles deliberately, as for years I had tried many different mediums from leather work to paper craft and I just wanted to see what would happen. It then just seemed like the best fit and now it seems like I had been searching for ages for a way to interpret my ideas. Textiles suits me the best out of everything I have tried.
If you weren't a Textile artist, what would you be?
I would like to be involved in the world of insects in some way. Not sure in which way though! I am always quite jealous of when you see those museums full of wooden drawers and cases filled with beetles and butterflies. I’d like to work somewhere like that. Maybe I would try conservation and do some field work out in a tropical jungle...
Why do you like nature so much?
I love nature for so many reasons. I love how symbolic animals and birds are. I particularly like the stories and folklore that surround them.
What is your favourite insect?
This is hard but if I had to pick a single insect it would be the Orchid Mantis. It is a really sinister insect but one that I find incredibly beautiful. Apparently it hides in a flower and is the most amazing shade of pink.
More images of this fascinating creature can be seen here
When you make your butterflies and moths, do you have a design or do you freestyle?
Yes, I do use a pattern especially for the butterflies and moths. I’ve made then freestyle in the past but they can come out a bit too big and clumsy looking so I try to limit this and stay within a certain size and shape. The spider and beetles however are mostly cut freehand.
How long does it take to make your insects and creations?
I can usually make a couple of insects in one day, however larger work can take days. The really large work like the swan and huge moths took a couple of weeks to make. They are made in exactly the same way as the smaller items just bigger and a ton more stuffing!
What is your favourite creature that you have made so far?
I really like to make insects, plus the spiders and moths are really fun to make. I find them satisfying to create and they often have really distinctive personalities quite early on.
Why do you use vintage materials in your work?
Using vintage and old fabrics is something I have always done and will always continue to do. I love turning something old or something that is only destined to be thrown away into something new and beautiful. Initially I worked with old clothes because I had no money to use anything else. Even if I became super rich I would still use the same fabrics. Old things and fabrics have had lives and maybe had adventures. You are sewing in a story, it’s this thought process that I love and which is so important and central to my work.
Are any of your pieces in collections worldwide and if so, in which countries?
I'm lucky in that my work is all over the world from Japan and U.S.A to France and Africa. I have people who collect my work and have heard that Emma Watson collects my beetles.
Have you ever had ‘artists block’?
I have yes but it is not something I suffer from much or have often. Everybody has a different cure for being 'blocked' and how to get out of it. I don't think it is as simple as one cure unblocks everyone. Trying to see as many new things as possible and drenching my brain in nature programmes or books tends to do the job for me though.
How much do you sell your work for?!
My works starts from £45 for a butterfly and goes up from there. Large wall hares and foxes start from £450. I’ve added old jewellery in the past which has pushed the price a lot higher but don't do this much though.
Please note that all images of Mr Finch’s art work are copyright of Mr Finch and can be viewed on his website or blog


  1. Lovely interview with some good questions!

    1. Thank you, I was impressed with the thought that they put into them and delighted when Mr Finch replied.

  2. Thank -you so much for sharing..I have ever admired Mr.Finch and his inspiring creations.) I love getting to know the man behind these wnoders through the eyes(or rather inquisitive minds) of your students..:)!

    MaryAnne (from the far away Azores Islands)

    1. Thank you MaryAnne, it was great to see them getting so inspired by his work. We were thrilled that Mr Finch took the time to respond to us. Hopefully it will pay off as they start to create
      their own moths!
      Clare (from a wet, grey & windy UK!)

  3. I loved the questions and loved the answers. Mister Finch is an ever inspiring artist and you are very obviously a very inspiring teacher too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. High praise indeed, thanks Paula. I always aim to inspire them but I'm not sure it always works! We were lucky that Mr Finch was so generous with his time. Clare

  5. Oh, what insightful questions! Very smart bunch of year 8 kinds. Thank you

    1. Thanks Rhissanna, I'll let them know that you like their questions.