Absolutely adore Rhiannon Salisbury’s fashion and pop culture influenced paintings with their vibrant patterns! Find more at the links below!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am a Londoner born and bred. I have a Welsh/German Jewish ancestry so I feel more affiliated to the melting pot than an idea of being “English” or “British” per se. Growing up in the city has definitely influenced how I see the world around me and I am probably addicted to the buzz of constant activity. After school I did an art foundation at Chelsea College of Arts, and then decided I was in need of more life experience before pursuing my artistic career. I spent a lot of time travelling in Asia before and after studying English Lit. at Leeds University. Whilst at Leeds I took modules in C18th Feminism, Post-Colonialism, and Psychoanalysis; these themes are still ruminating in the back of my mind, and are quiet, yet influential subjects in my painting. It took me a good ten years to do a full circle and return to Chelsea College of Art for my MAFA. It was a hugely experimental program where we were encouraged to explore multiple ways to make art, but I discovered a lust for painting that superseded my other artist endeavours, and following this I went straight to Turps Banana where I was able to focus my energies on painting in a very intensive two year studio program.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
When I was pulled out of lessons in primary school in order to help paint the mural for our school play. I spent a week making a painting of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, I can still remember the smell of the neon blue poster paint and PVA glue, and the feeling of getting cotton wool stuck on my fingers when trying to make the clouds.
What do you like most about working where you do?
My studio in Bow Arts feels like something straight out of Dickens. It is in a Victorian Industrial building, with wooden floors and rickety glass pane windows. It’s freezing but also incredibly romantic.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
Advertising is subliminal. We are consistently bombarded with imagery that is feeding into our narrative of how we see ourselves in relation to those around us. I am currently exploring the imagery used in mass media campaigns, in particular I am focusing on adverts from high end fashion labels. These brands are considered as “Aspirational Brands” and are intended to signify what we, as a society desire. I find this imagery is often grotesque in subtle ways that may go unnoticed. It is only when you break down each highly constructed image, you start to decode the signifiers. I hope that the reinterpretation of the advertisements through painting, opens up a dialogue where we can re-look at the structure of ideas and references used and highlight the absurd, retrogressive and damaging messages being conveyed beneath the glossy, alluring surface of the imagery.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
When I was doing my art foundation I was in a friends film. I had to lie down on cold wet grass in our garden, in winter in my underwear, pretending to be dead, while he emptied three large buckets of maggots onto me. I can’t believe I let him do that now.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I’ve been teaching and mentoring alongside my own studies for the last five years. It’s a brilliant way to support my practise and it has also helped me to widen my community in the arts.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Fight with your paintings
If you are getting bored something is wrong
Don’t take rejection personally
Don’t give up
Believe you can do it
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
People to pick you up when you are feeling like you have made a totally mental life choice that is nonsensical! A space to go to where you realise you are not alone. A group that enhances what you do by sharing your passion.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I find mornings difficult and conversations in the morning unbearable, so I am very quick to get dressed and make my way to the studio. Mornings are also my favourite time to work, it is normally when studios are quietest and it is when I have the best ability to focus on the paintings. Although I cant communicate with the outside world at this time of day it seems the perfect time for me to have a conversation with the canvas. I think it is a portal into that not too conscious but relatively focused realm, the twilight moments for a painter where you are not over thinking your work, but are just “in the zone” as they say. I’m fuelled by lots of caffeine. As time wears on my painting decisions become worse but I normally push myself to keep going until the evening. I take a lot more breaks in the afternoon, and will go out for a walk or a coffee to refresh myself. I find I often need to distract myself from the paintings for a while so that I can re-see them again and make better decisions.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
The Art World is a pretty crazy place. It’s a bit like going to a huge Funfair for the first time. Trying to navigate the unknown is a really big challenge. Everyone plays by a different set of rules and you have to adapt fast to life out of university. It’s scary and challenging but hugely exciting too, I like carving out my own path even if there is a lot of anxiety involved in the process.
How would you define “success” in art?
Being able to improve, not growing stagnant
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I won the The Darbyshire Prize For Emerging Art just before graduating from the Turps Painting Program, and am currently exhibiting my paintings in a solo show at Darbyshire Ltd which runs until February 6th. It’s been a brilliant opportunity show a body of work together straight out of college.
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
I have a large community from my involvement with Turps. It’s a great group of people, we have reading groups, organise exhibitions with each other, or just visit one another’s studio’s once we become alumni to keep the feeling of shared painting experience alive post the studio program.
What are you working on right now?
A very saucy painting with a woman exposing her breasts to a intrigued horse, whilst holding a rope in one hand.