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Meet the Artist… Michelle Goggi

Today we get to know Michelle Goggi, whose work we are currently framing for exhibition.

Hello Michelle, tell us a bit about yourself… 

Hello! I moved to Kent about 7 years ago. Originally I’m from Essex, then lived and worked in London, before making the exodus to Whitstable. It’s a well-trodden path for a reason! I love East Kent and our amazing coastline and woods. I’ve travelled around the world but can’t say I’d rather live anywhere else.

Have you always been an artist?  

Artist Michelle Goggi sitting on a stool surrounded by her artwork

For as long as I can remember I've had this need to create. As a child I was always sticking, glueing and causing chaos on the kitchen-table. I’m a visual learner, and art gives me a voice to explore my thoughts and emotions. I like to take the unconventional path, and although I left school with just one A-Level (an A in Art), I went on to study Fine Art at Staffordshire University where I gained a first. The next decade or so was spent working in the creative industries in London and Sydney – fashion, photography, advertising, and magazines, before setting up a sustainable clothing label and shop in East London. Naturally, life changed after having my two children and moving to Kent, but in recent years I’ve had the time to re-visit that unconventional artistic path.

What inspires you?

I’m a talker and thinker. My brain is always working something over, and art is often how I show what’s going on inside. Exploring those big questions in life really inspires my personal practice. I am really interested in the human connection to the natural world. I have studied Shamanism, and this has inspired not only how I now view the world but also how I approach my work. My artistic practice has also been influenced by exploring alternative therapies, such as meditation and sound.

What is your favourite medium? 

Original artwork by Michelle Goggi

My early work used to be more photography based, and I’ve also tried my hand at sculpting. At the moment I love painting. I use oils which I sometimes layer over fluorescent acrylics. I am currently studying how to paint using a more limited palette – the Zorn palette – which is exciting. I’ve also recently joined a community print-making studio, which I’m really enjoying, and beginning to think about how I can incorporate print and painting.

What do you dream of creating?

I used to create installations and would love to create an immersive experience using large scale paintings and soundscapes. I would love to make work without having to be restricted by costs, size or the final destination.

Do you have a piece that you are most proud of? 

It is so easy to be critical of your own work and much harder to be proud. I think the Woodshed is the painting I am most fond of. It was one of my first oils and I painted it intuitively, allowing myself to just really play with and enjoy colour. The Woodshed is a metaphor I use within my work which relates to my younger self. On my foundation course at Newham in my teens, a mature female student asked me ‘when I was going to start clearing out my woodshed?’ I think this painting is all part of the process.

What have you learned about yourself through art? 

Artist Michelle Goggi at work in her studio

I have learned to give myself a break and not to take life so seriously. Art definitely reflects back to your biggest fears and insecurities. In any artistic pursuit it's quite nerve wracking putting yourself out there, it's like a performance – it takes courage. Most artists are actually quite insecure when it comes to their work, so putting it on display for public scrutiny teaches you that if you are brave, you can be fearless. 


What’s the worst thing about being an artist? 

Sometimes being an artist can be a lonely profession, so it's good to try and find an artistic ‘tribe’ to connect to. It's so important for there to be discussions not only around your own work, but that of others. That's why studying art is so enjoyable. I think most artists secretly like being ‘institutionalised’ at college or a shared studio space, as it provides such a valuable community.

Original artwork by Michelle Goggi, swimmer in the water wearing a red cap

Tell me about the influence of the sea in your work. 

I have found myself unconsciously exploring the sea, and the bond between life and water, whether that is in the natural worlds, imagined worlds, or in my series of swimmers that capture the distortion that water plays on the human form. My work with the sea, with water, explores my overcoming those feelings of drowning in everyday life. I see the water as cleansing, calming and ultimately allowing my creativity to flow.

What are your hopes for the coming year? 

To keep painting, keep learning and keep exhibiting. It’s so exciting to be creating but also working in partnership with well-established artists in their fields – people who really know their stuff. I also hope I can exhibit more work and see it on the walls of peoples homes. That makes me happy.

Where can we see / buy your work?

You can see my work on my website or follow me on instagram @michellegoggiart – where I share what I’m up to most weeks. And if you’re in Whitstable in June, you can see my work at the 6 Exhibition at The Horsebridge from the 19th June to 1st July. More information can be found @sixexhibition. I am also opening my studio for the East Kent Artists’ Open House 2024 on the 12th/13th and 19th/20th of October 2024. Hopefully see you there.

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