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Paula MacArthur - The Open College of the Arts
To find out more details about the transfer to The Open University see A New Chapter for OCA.

Paula MacArthur

I was born in Enfield, trained at Loughborough College of Art (Fine Art Painting BA Hons 1990) and Royal Academy Schools (Post-Graduate Diploma Painting 1993). On completing my studies, I taught Life Drawing and then A-level Art for ten years at Herts Regional College and since then have taught in adult education, schools and studio workshops.

I’ve exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, I was a prize winner at John Moore’s Painting Prize in 1993 and first prize winner at the National Portrait Gallery Portrait Award in 1989. Other highlights include Made in Britain – National Museum Gdansk Poland (2019), In the Future curated by Rosalind Davis at Collyer Bristow Gallery (2018), Contemporary Masters from Britain touring four museums in China (2017), Slippery & Amorphous London & Brooklyn NYC (2016), Creekside Open selected by Richard Deacon (2015), What the Folk Say – Compton Verney
Warwickshire (2011), Four Self-Portrait Artists – Walker Art Gallery Liverpool (1994), Royal Academy Schools Graduates, Grassi Museum Leipzig (1993), Young Contemporaries – Whitworth Art Gallery (1989). Permanent collections include the National Portrait Gallery London, Priseman Seabrook Collection and Jiangsu Art Museum in China and Graham Crowley included his essay on my work ‘Still Light’ in his book ‘I Don’t Like Art’.

In 2009 I moved to Kent and now work from my studio at Rye Creative Centre, East Sussex. My primary focus is painting but I also work with various printmaking processes; particularly screen-printing and photopolymer etching. In 2019 I was elected Chair of the artist-led group Contemporary British Painting, a group of 70 painters based across The British Isles who regularly exhibit together. As part of this role I coordinate the Contemporary British Painting Prize. I also run the curatorial project PaintLounge organising occasional exhibitions and painting conversation events.

My practice is rooted in the traditions of Memento-Mori and Vanitas Still Life painting. I work with single artefacts which I seek out in museums and historical buildings. I select these treasures instinctively, choosing the things which elicit an emotional and a physical response in me – butterflies, a gasp or a sigh. Through the slow, meditative process of painting, these valuable objects reveal themselves to me, or rather I begin to delve into my subconscious and understand why they resonate with me personally. The resulting paintings, I hope, also resonate more universally; touching upon issues such as materialism, capitalism, feminism and the environment, and broader themes which concern us all, love, beauty and the fragility of life.






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