Olivia's show | The Open College of the Arts
Welcome school and college leavers of 2020! Browse the arts courses you can study with OCA, and our webinars about studying with us.
Explore #WeAreOCA
Skip Navigation

Olivia's show

This is a post from the weareoca.com archive. Information contained within it may now be out of date.
From time to time OCA tutors tell us about their new shows.  Here is Olivia telling us about hers.
‘I currently have an exhibition of paintings at the Linenhall, Castlebar, County Mayo in Ireland. It runs to the 23rd February. www.thelinenhall.com  For this exhibition, I have brought together thirty five paintings, most of them completed in 2012. The paintings are oil or oil and egg tempera on linen.
I work in a way that combines control with spontaneity, using my immediate surroundings for inspiration.  The exhibition is entitled ‘Some of These Places’. My subjects include domestic interiors, streets, gardens and family holidays.  The actual locations act as a pretext for the paintings, as they are not depictions of the real places but rather a reinvention or reinterpretation of them.  This comes about through the process of gathering information as much as my history as an artist. Having worked figuratively, abstractly, with film, printmaking, collage and poetry I employ various approaches to the making of a picture. Much of my research comes from sketches or paintings made on the spot, but also from experimental drawing, studio set-ups, memories past and recent, and my imagination. Pattern, colour and gesture play as much a part as ideas and narrative, as the dynamics of the picture- making process itself throw up choices and surprises.  The paint itself, whether broad stokes of oil, scratching through, fine glazes or intricate areas of egg tempera adds to the emotional qualities of the painting.  I feel this approach, which mixes fantasy, memory and reality, better reflects how I feel about the psychological issues of place, identity and autobiography.
Many of the paintings depict urban themes. For example in Bus Shelter 1, I show an ordinary glass bus shelter with a park and street behind.  There is a person sitting waiting for the bus. What, at first, seems like a very ordinary scene is actually full of reflections and graffiti which gives added layers of meaning.  In Street Corner, a wide angle view of a suburban street focusses more on the road markings, patterns on the pavement, shadows and reflections. Similarly, in Gate Shadows we see a figure walking past, but the main focus is on the long shadows cast by the gate and the reflections on the car behind. I am fascinated by thetheatricality of the ordinary and how noticing something seemingly irrelevant can set up associations.

As part of this exhibition I will be running a workshop based on colour and mood. I am very specific about what colours I use, often spending quite a lot of time mixing.  I have a range of pigments and I like to combine them in surprising ways. The exaggerated colour gives a sense of heightened reality or theatricality- perhaps even a fascinating dream world.  Although these paintings are deeply personal they are not specific. I hope that they will open the door to the viewer’s own imagination.’
Image 1 Street Corner Image 2 Bus Shelter Image 3 Gate Shadows

Posted by author: Olivia Irvine
Share this post:

7 thoughts on “Olivia's show

  • Best of luck with the show, Olivia. The paintings are really interesting and show what you can do with seemingly mundane subjects. I especially love the bus shelter picture – very atmospheric.

  • I wish I could go and see the exhibition; the works look fantastic, and I love the use of rich colour. Lovely to see a tutor’s work.

  • I love this work Olivia. It reminds me of some illustrations that I have in a very old book dated from the forties. I know this is not your intention but I just thought that I would tell you anyway. If and when I find the book I will give you more info. I am not able to see the show but good luck.
    The girl in the shelter is beautiful

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to blog listings