Music on canvas

with Sam Thurley - Ratcliff



Tell us about yourself, what’s your background and

how this affected your work?

I grew up mostly down south - I was born in Leeds and moved

down at a very young age to a small village in the country,

so having been relatively isolated from a younger age i found

a lot of solace in creative pursuits as i could create my own worlds.

Effectively, Art and Music have always been a massive influence on

my life - from family members being artists or musicians  themselves, to just

having a real love of the arts myself and being encouraged to pursue that.


So how would you describe your style of work, what influences the images you create?

I think it’s a bit of an eclectic mix of styles, influenced by things that I’ve seen or remember as well as more of an automatic response to music and my environment.


What genre of art would you say your work falls under?

I try not to define it so much as letting my pieces be a representation of myself, what I’m feeling when I’m feeling it - it’s not that I don’t want to associate with a label or style, I just feel that it’s more me when it’s less “something” as opposed to “what comes out”. Although I definitely am influenced by styles such as Art-Brut and Outsider Art, I feel like they’re newer and more raw, honest approaches to creation that don’t require this tight, refined view of art as being something beautiful - it can be ugly, it can be angry, it can be anything that isn’t another mirror image of what’s in front of you.


How does music influence your work?

As I say, it’s a massive influence and always has been, it’s like dancing in my own private way and capturing that explosive, emotive response - I like to think that using colour and expression in a piece, is my way of interpreting music and the world around me, there’s so much that we can’t (or don’t) see in music; an almost spiritual connection between movements, colours, sounds, emotions and memories that we seem to have forgotten. For me art and music come hand in hand I don’t really believe that you can have one without the other.


"[...] there’s so much that we can’t (or don’t) see in music;

an almost spiritual connection between movements, colours, sounds, emotions and memories that we seem to have forgotten."

Is it part of the process of creation or a planned response?

It’s a little bit of both, very often I’ll sit and meditate to the music to get a general sense of what it’s trying to say but I’ll just set out my materials and paint or draw as I listen to the music in direct response, feeling what needs to go where in the moment.


What led you to choose music as such a direct influence on your paintings?

It was so quick and easy to respond to, it’s a universal language for anyone, so anyone that sees my work can make a connection whether musical, emotional or whatever, I feel like the colour and texture represents how the music might look and feel and move in a more physical tangible sense.


Who are your biggest influences, artists/musicians etc?

Artistically I have always loved different artists with varied styles and disciplines - from Basquiat to Schiele, but especially artists that focus on the human conscious and expressing something more meaningful than just “abstract mess”, merchandise art or a more traditional theme of work that only represents an exact copy of something. When it comes to music, anything from classical to metal to jazz or rap can influence me - I like to feel the spontaneity of the music and let that come through in my work.


Explain the process of creation for you and how music impacts this

It’s very instinctive, almost primal. I like to let the music flow through me, onto the canvas rather than planning anything out it’s almost as if I couldn’t make a new piece of work if I wanted to, it comes when it comes and if it doesn’t it doesn’t although it’s not the most efficient way to work i find it the most honest.


How do you choose the mediums you use? Do you have any favourites?

Recently I’ve been experimenting with spray paints and quick mediums such as acrylic and oil pastel so that I can very quickly respond to the music and make expressive marks without it taking hours just to decide what mark to make, however I often will come back and edit for long periods as well to make sure that I am really saying what I want to say.


What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’ve got a few different projects going on: I’m more trying to get into things like combining Art with something wearable, I think the main trifecta of what is becoming important today is a combination between Music, Art and Style - coming to more of an emotional connection with that. I’m currently doing designs on jackets as well as creating some artistic pieces that represent a lot more emotional connections for me, focusing further on accessibility to art and making that a link to the universal nature of music rather than just churning out work.


Any big plans for the future regarding Art and Music?

I’m definitely looking to show in the near future, creating more collaborations, finding fashion designers and taking that further - taking this spontaneous musical response and making something you can wear as part of your own style. Another idea I’ve been toying with recently is the idea of an interactive exhibition space, using a cacophony of music that you can listen to all at once which kind of represents my art through sound - then moving closer to the individual pieces, the music related to that specific piece becomes clearer. I’m also working with a young musician on writing what we consider an abstract music piece that I can then create artwork for, which is definitely something that I am excited to explore and do a lot more of.

AnonStyle is pleased to publish an insightful series of expressive paintings by up-and-coming artist Sam Thurley-Ratcliff, all based off pieces of music. The series, in its varied colourful, chaotic nature, illuminates a sense of emotion that brings music and art together as one. Ratcliff talks to interviewer Sophie Hocking about his work, background and inspiration in an exclusive feature for AnonStyle.

follow Sam's work on

Interview by Sophie Hocking,

Words by Laura Wilcox.


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