Interview: Teresa Duck


Teresa Duck is a contemporary British painter, living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. She Studied at Northumbria University where she gained a BA Honours in fine art.

Teresa’s work combines formal realist painting with abstracted elements, alongside working in sculpture and assemblage. Through which she explores identity and aspects of contemporary culture.


When did you know you wanted to become a painter?

I've always drawn and painted.  As a child, drawing and making things was an escape mechanism, and I still use making art as a tool to get away. I've always relied on it to get me through hard times and it's almost like an old friend now.  I don't know if I ever decided to become a painter. I just started spending more time making paintings, and it took over my life little by little. It's not something that I can stop doing or just turn off. It's too much a part of who I am now.

Who are the figures in your paintings? Are they fictional characters or based on real people?

The figures in the paintings are primarily characters. I'm more interested in how the female form is perceived as a whole rather than the individual qualities of each figure. I tend to use female characters, although not exclusively, as I am myself female, so it is a viewpoint I'm privy to. The women in my current series are depicted without clothing, in a state of being between nude and naked, but are unaffected by their immediate surroundings in either instant. 

There is an excerpt by John Berger in his book Ways of Seeing that this series draws upon, which is actually rather fundamental to the work. This excerpt explains the use of the nude female figures. 

“To be naked is to be oneself.

To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized as oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become nude (the sight of it as an object stimulates the use of it as an object) Nakedness reveals itself, nudity is placed on display.  To be naked is to be without disguise.

To be on display is to have the surface of one’s own skin, the hairs of one's own body turned into a disguise, which in that situation can never be discarded.

The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress.”


When did you start incorporating pop culture references into figurative work?

The popular culture elements are relatively new, and they vary, they tend to be a mix of products. But some are symbols from works of fiction. Others are completely abstract in nature. Often the titles of the paintings give clues to their origin, but they may be found in other paintings. For example, the swallows that can be found in "Mrs. Woolf in the Cellar with a bottle of bleach" are taken from Virginia Woolf's Between the Acts they tend to work as a breadcrumb trail. As much for myself as for the viewer. The primary structure of the title itself is a play on the popular board game Cludo (taken from the latin Ludo, which means 'I play') in which the winning player must guess the correct suspect in the correct room with the correct weapon. In this case, the Cellar pertains to Jung. I enjoy these word games immensely.

The objects also are objects of desire; the intention is that they hover between being cute and funny and somewhat sinister. The serious and the absurd. Perhaps a dash of the unheimlich. Perhaps in the style that John-Paul Sartre described in Nausea, in which Antoine, the main character, encounters nausea caused by objects. They impose upon him, overwhelm the intentionality of his consciousness and remind him of his absurd reality. Nausea is a sick feeling that lies behind the colors, smells, and appearance of objects and people. An object or person essence does not exist, but is the creation of its observer.


What has been the most exciting moment in your art career so far? What did you learn from it?

I'm not sure I can say.  I think the most exciting part overall is just creating a body of work. I've learned that I make more accomplished work if I just refuse to worry about the public response to it and do what I feel will make a good painting. That in itself is, I think, the most important thing I've learned. To not be afraid to make what I feel is necessary for myself.