Geoff Deigo Litherland: Wirksworth artist

As the son of an intrepid explorer and geologist Geoff Diego Litherland saw a lot of the world in his early life.

The Mexican-born artist was brought up in Bolivia and Ecuador and has lived in Granada and Barcelona.

He moved to England to embark on his fine art degree at Falmouth and in 2012 he completed a Masters in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths University London.

For a few years he lived in Nottingham but in 2015 he and his wife Hattie, a textile designer, upped sticks again and moved to what he describes as his ‘rural idyll’ in Wirksworth where he seems determined to plant some roots.

They have found a cottage on Greenhill to renovate and are throwing themselves into community life. Geoff has taken on a curatorial role for Wirksworth Festival and he is also one of a group of artists turning part of Haarlem Mill into an arts space.

“There is so much going on here and so many amazing designers and artists. Collaborating with them is really interesting and I am excited about the festival and how it will develop,” said the 36-year-old.

“What I find really fascinating about Wirksworth though is the landscape and how it is influencing my new work. The physical scars left by the mining and the way nature is retaking the abandoned quarries are making a mark on me already.

“All the places I have lived have influenced my work which has always been about using materials to make sense of my surroundings and my relationship to nature.”

Adjacent-BeyondThisMomentGeoff describes his creative style as post-apocalyptic romanticism and says that it is a real mixed-bag using the traditions of western abstraction, together with surrealism and figuration.

Much of his work combines his vision of an idyllic landscape with the fantasy world of science fiction and his aim is to question our perception of nature and the role that art has played in creating that perception.

The octagonal shape of several of his oil paintings also appears within others and Geoff says they were initially meant to be a window from a spaceship looking back down on Earth.

“What I want to portray is either nature in a distance past before humans changed it, or in a post apocalyptic sci-fi world.

“I see myself as a time traveller being able to start off way back creating somewhere people can explore with me,” he said thoughtfully.

Geoff’s love of science fiction dates back to his childhood in South America where the lack of any decent television drove him to the library at the British Council in Ecuador.

“I just used to pick sci-fi novels by their covers, so at a young age I had read Issac Asimov’s Foundation series and other classic stuff. Those images stayed with me but I didn’t start using them until I was at Goldsmiths.”

Before he started the London course in 2010 Geoff was better known for his abstract painting which explored his Anglo-Mexican background. (His father is English and mother Mexican). He had won a place in the John Moores 25 Painting Prize and won the Nottingham Castle Open.

“At that stage I didn’t know in which direction to head and my work was not going anywhere. My critical theory tutor on the course just asked me what I was interested in. I said the sublime relationships to nature, romanticism and science fiction. He just said ‘great now go and get on with it’.

“He gave me the confidence to indulge myself and make the work I wanted to and I have not looked back since.

geoff-soul-chart-NEWl“My work is always changing as the influences around me change and I am particularly excited about the future now I have moved to Wirksworth and this new environment,” he said.

Until Haarlem Mill is up and running the artist is working out of the Old Lock-up Studio in Cromford and he is preparing for a busy year.

As well as being involved with the festival and the mill project Geoff is at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea from March 9-13 and he has a solo exhibition at Tarpey Gallery from March 26-May 1.

Go to http://www.geoffdiegolitherland.com to find out more and follow the haarlem art space on facebook to find out the latest news about its opening.