Brett Field is a Cape Town-based artist who made the move from a corporate career in finance to follow his passion to become an architectural artist. Field draws charming, whimsical sketches of homes, buildings and retail spaces. He says buildings are so much more than just the places where we live, work or play.
As a creative I have fun. The beauty of being an artist is the true creative freedom that comes with it. This allows me to have absolute authority over every stroke, colour and element. I immerse myself in my art. When working on a piece I try to decode and translate the building’s personality rather than recreate its aesthetic. I also create imagined buildings that exist in the skyline of my mind.
My design aesthetic is architectural art produced from organic and free-flowing wayward line work finished with muted and nuanced colours, filled with hidden surprise and delight elements that allow people to explore an artwork over time.
“I’ve always looked at a building and built a story or tale in my head about who lives there based on what I see or don’t see in the building. Buildings are where we work and where we rest, where we entertain and where we are entertained, where we hide and where we heal. They are where we feel our safest and our most vulnerable. I may be sketching architecture, but make no mistake, my art is about people.”
I grew up in a family of chartered accountants and engineers. My Mum was my “creative ally”. I have always been creative and explored a multitude of mediums. With the exception of music, I was able to excel in most mediums. It was fortunate that I grew up within an entrepreneurial family as it allowed me to learn business from a young age, which is a great help when navigating the art world. I also had the privilege of growing up in the home I was born in. My parents still live in that home almost 50 years later and I love visiting as often as I can.
As an absolute creative, the difficulty that comes with corporate success is the inevitable shift to management. This results in being promoted away from the creative coal face. One of the few creative pursuits where your success doesn’t remove you from the creative coal face is art. So being faced with giving up success in favour of pursuing ultimate creative freedom was terrifying. I traded in the boardroom for a studio to become an artist. I found happiness there in ways I had never imagined.
My design process involves finding what makes buildings unique both for the people who inhabit them, and for those who look at them from afar. When doing commissions, it’s about finding out how the people inside the building use it. Do they work there, do they make things, what do they make? Who lives there, what are their stories? What makes them who they are? Because it is the people inside who give buildings personality and identity.
I draw inspiration from everywhere. While digital platforms give me the freedom to “stand” digitally on almost any street around the world, nothing beats walking the streets. I want to experience the sounds and smells, witness the goings-on and even meet the people in and around a building. Everywhere I go I am always looking at, photographing and videoing buildings and structures. I am attracted to the elements that speak to the psychology of the building. How it holds its space in a skyline or where it hides in a shadow of other buildings. I also love and practise calligraphy with a real love for eastern calligraphic brushwork, which I often include in my artworks.
I am currently working on a commission for a large series of commercial properties, offices, industrial and retail properties. I am also doing a number of private commissions of residential properties, a couple of which are for people who have immigrated and wanted a keepsake of family homes. Additionally, I’m working on a personal series of my favourite buildings from across South Africa. These will include an eclectic mix of heritage buildings in various states of disrepair and shiny new builds shaping new and iconic skylines.
You can find my pieces at my studio in Tokai, Cape Town, or my website www.shop.brettfield.com and hopefully soon at a gallery here in Cape Town with whom I’m currently in talks.