Junior Durrani a Teesside Artist

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Would you like to introduce yourself?

Im 32, I live in Eaglescliffe and I was a primary school teacher at Barley Fields in Ingleby Barwick for the last 5 years. Currently, I’m taking a break from teaching to pursue this other passion of mine – painting! Growing up, I always loved creating/illustrating/painting but somewhere along the way I lost track of it. I studied Literature at Teesside Uni then did a little bit of travelling and just sort of “fell into” Education really. It wasn’t until my Mum passed away in 2017 from ovarian cancer that I picked up a paintbrush again – reflecting on it now makes me realise it was definitely a form of coping with the grief. I kept plugging away with it on evenings/weekends but it’s tough to truly pursue it properly with the demands of the classroom. Probably like a lot of people during the pandemic, I reflected on what I really wanted to do and this is where I’m at now!

What’s the story behind your most recent artwork Misspent youth ? Meaning behind it ?

Misspent Youth is an ongoing series that I like to revisit from time to time whenever I’m feeling a little bit nostalgic. I think we’re all guilty of looking back and romanticising those formative years of our life (particularly in the last 18 months or so!). I found myself reminiscing about simpler times, being a student at Teesside Uni, working part time in a bar and living for those nights out with your friends in and around Boro. I guess it’s a yearning for that social connection we have all been missing. 

What do you think of the art scene in Teesside ? Do you feel there needs to be more suppprt for artists based in the area ?

There are some incredibly talented local artists in and around Teesside; the recent Middlesbrough art weekender is proof that the art scene is thriving! The answer will always be a definite yes to giving more support to artists – absolutely! However, you don’t have to look too far to see that there are already some brilliant organisations and communities that do tremendous work to support the arts on Teeside. I follow some excellent accounts on social media (Navigator North, creative factory boro, tees valley arts to name just a few!) which keep me up to date with what’s happening locally and who’s doing what. It provides me with genuine inspiration, encourgaement and belief that there are others out there creating great things!

Can you tell us of any upcoming artwork you are currently working on ?

Well, the ‘Misspent Youth/Middlesbrough themed ‘night out’ series is always there to add to from time to time whenever that wistfulness overtakes me again! I used to live in Middlesbrough so that connection will always be there. But currently, I’m looking to my present home for inspiration: my more recent pieces are a bit of a love-note to where I live. It’s a sort of abstracty/minimalist style which feels very freeing and exciting because it’s different to what I’ve done before. The grounded nature of everything certainly made me appreciate what I’ve got here at home and fall in love again with my immediate surroundings. I’m very grateful!

I’ve also started following some really contemporary painters on instagram that paint in this vibrant/cubist style which just capture a whole…”vibe”! It genuinely excites me and is just unlike anything I’ve ever seen or done before so I’m trying to incorporate that into my own work. I think that way of expressing yourself on the canvas really lends itself to capturing personality of my own puppy, Luna. She is full of energy and I’m just besotted with her so I’m thinking I might create multiple portraits of her in the near-future! Very self-indulgent!

What’s your overall goal what would you like to achieve with your art ?

I think it’s important to just keep enjoying the process of creating above all else.  The goal of an artist should be to evolve, adapt and keep learning: to be courageous and experiment with different styles. Avoid comparison, keep looking at a range of art and eclectic artists to find inspiration from the unexpected. I don’t know, perhaps it’s a bit naïve but I try everyday to prioritise that enjoyment of the process over exterior validation/being able to become financially successful as an artist – whatever that looks like or means. I think if you do something you love, and you genuinely love it, you’ve already achieved something.

Junior is currently having his work displayed at Cafe Etch in Middlesbrough, they will be hosting his first exhibition on October 22nd focusing on his Misspent Youth artwork.

By Chloe Tempestoso

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