Artist Andy Bradford is a colourful character who explains how he uses his architecture training in his work on an installation at the University of the West of England
Why did you decide to leave architecture and become an artist?
I qualified in 1985 and worked at architect Sheppard Robson for about two years. But I found that, in practice, architecture was not as personal or creative as I had hoped it would be. Sheppard was very supportive of my move to fine art, and I think part of me had always wanted to go to art school and learn how to paint, draw and make prints.

How does your training as an architect help your work as an artist?
I have trained for equal lengths of time in both fields and this gives me a unique position in art and architecture collaboration projects. I can be involved from a very early stage in the design process, right through to construction, and I have a clear understanding of what the architect is trying to achieve spatially, and how art work can reinforce, exploit or complement their design philosophy. Perhaps, most importantly, I am able to create spatial installations that engage the building user.

Any frustrations?
They are mainly financial ones. But gallery owners can be very demanding and keen to pigeonhole your work.

I have a clear understanding of how art work can reinforce, exploit or complement an architect’s design philosophy

I find that I'm taken more seriously by clients when I'm working on a public art project.

How do you think public art might be improved?
I think what makes a good collaboration is early involvement. This avoids a common defect of public art, which is that it is simply "added on" to the end of a project like so many sculptures in windswept piazzas. These have perhaps a lot to do with the artist, but little to do with the architecture, user or client.

Personal details

Current job:
Artist. I create public art in collaboration with architects and work with a range of media for my private exhibitions.
Previous jobs:
In 1985, architect at Sheppard Robson; from 1986, teaching posts and developing my portfolio as an artist, including collaborative work with architects.
Diploma in Architecture; foundation diploma from the Wimbledon School of Art; MA (Fine Art) in Combined Media from the Chelsea College of Art & Design.
Hillesley, south Gloucestershire.