Category: guest articles

My favourite Australian Artists – selected by Jordy Kerwick.

Text written by Emiy Quli

Amidst the chaotic upheaval the world has gone into, the art world is still very much alive and more accessible than ever. Artist’s digital presence means that you do not (and should not!) need to leave the comfort of your home to view the greatest emerging artworks. Although exhibitions may have been postponed and galleries are shut, this is a better time than any to discover new artists. From overwhelming canvases with explosions of colour to progressive surrealist paintings, Jordy Kerwick has seletected his favourite Australian artists to help you explore the emerging contemporary art scene in Australia. 

For more from Jordy see his episode of the Delphian Podcast

Louise Gresswell @LouiseGresswell

Australian artists

Louise Gresswell is an exciting experimentation of colour, texture and light.  She provides a refreshing and inspired new way to engage with the same colours we see daily. Gresswell plays around with shape and paint inventively to create new spaces within the canvas. Gresswell also repeatedly finds new ways to use oil paint to create interesting textures and movements in her paintings.

Rachael McCully @rachaelsmccully

Australian artists

Working with an array of mediums, Mccully’s work is a solid example of the endless potential with block colour. Her art engages and attracts people with her bright, humorous statements. Using the #trueselvesproject on her Instagram she uses these same playful colours to offset the melancholic musings of a generation whose worries often struggle to surface above the traffic of  endless streaming of information, news and interactions. 

Rhys Lee @rhyslee_

australian artists

“A master of combining dark and sometimes scary subject matter with every colour from a rainbow. Not an easy feat. And has absurd technical skills” – Jordy Kerwick 

Rhys Lee has the capacity for making even the macabre beautiful. His work appears to be a regeneration of the Fauves – dissecting and reimagining the reality around us. In the dark portraits that Lee presents the observer with, he places within it an even darker truth about identity and its place in society. His portraits present the observer with a range of characters from the female nude to a comical frog. It is through these figures that Rhys Lee truly has created his own distorted reflection of life, through the animation and excitement he places in each of these portraits. 

Lucy O’Doherty @lucyodoherty

Australian artists

There is a smoothness to O’Doherty’s works that can only be likened to the smoothness one experiences in the vision of a dream. Her work with pastels blends and fuses the image from its actuality into all its ethereal potential. O’Doherty’s art doesn’t seem tangible but instead each pastel work seems to have been drawn from the collective memories of every observer. 

Amber Rose Walis @amberrosewallis

Australian artists

“Ballsy and big and dark and brooding. Perfect blend of femininity and masculinity.” – Jordy Kerwick 

The work of Wallis is simply engulfing. The observer is at once immersed into this explosion of colour, paint, experimentation and self – expression. There seems to be no limitations or restrictions when it come to Amber Wallis. She is perpetually defining and redefining new boundaries of paint and canvas work. With each colour merging into the next and each paint stroke taking the painting in a completely new direction – Wallis truly is an exciting artist. 

Heidi Yeardley @heidi_yeardley

11 Australian artists

“Australia’s best surrealist. Combining sex and kitsch and beautifully made traditional oil paintings.” – Jordy Kerwick 

Yardley is the surrealist that brings the reality of our bodies into supreme awareness. Focusing predominantly on female subjects, she utterly reinvents perspectives of approaching the body. Each painting is a new angle, a new censor, a new focus. Her work is unpredictable and inspired, she is redefining feminine beauty into one with boldness, bravery and absolute confidence in their sexuality.

Justin Lee Williams @artjlw

Australian artists

Justin Lee Williams is a fusion of culture, colour and creativity. All of his work collectively melts into each other, depicting a colourful image of life holistically. But on a closer look it becomes apparent that they are all enriched with individual stories, characters and images. It is this that isolates his artistry – his credibility to tell a whole story within his paintings with no words except the elusive titles he provides. 

Sally Anderson @sallyleeanderson

Australian artists

Blues and greens are the colours of mindfulness. And blues and greens are the colours of Sally Anderson. It is nearly impossible to look at one of her artworks without feeling instantaneously soothed. Anderson predominantly works with shapes within these colours which demonstrates the margins and liminalities of the blues and greens. Her constant creativity to find ways to regenerate these colours in new and interesting artforms revitalise the contemporary art scene. 

Tom Polo @tompolo

Australian artists

Tom Polo’s paintings are reminiscent of childhood experimentations with colour. His works are vibrant, articulate and detailed. The colours in the painting merge and flow into each other beautifully. With illustrative beginnings, these stunning pieces encourage emancipated technique and thought. 

John Bokor @johnbokor

australian artists

John Bokor’s paintings are a beautiful impression of daily life. The charismatic palette throughout his works injects reality with a vivacious breath of fresh air. With their animated potency, even his still lifes feel energetic. He creates a vibrant, exciting and fun reflection of the world through his paintings. 

Adam Lester @adslester

Australian artists

There is a subtly to Adam Lester’s works that draws the observer in closer due to their enigmatic style. Lester uses colour not as a focal objective but advantageously,  to isolate the image he is trying to present. This draws the attention of the observer to images of polo players, jazz players, guitar players to name a few. Lester uses these eclectic characters to show the simplicity and at the same time the fullness of life. 

Support for artists – Resources available during the Corona Hardship.

During the lockdown, job losses, and economic downturn that will result from these things, artists everywhere are finding it hard to make ends meet. Whilst this is obviously going to be with us for some time, there are some resources out there that can help to bridge the gap over the coming months.

We had planned to make a similar list, but fortunately Space Studios beat us to it with this incredible list – so BIG thanks to them for putting in the time and effort to make it.

“Since our gallery closed on 16 March, the SPACE team has been working harder than ever to support our artist community during this unprecedented crisis. As well as providing rent relief for our most hard-hit studio holders, we continue to lobby Treasury, GLA and ACE for further measures to support freelancers, artists and studio providers. Meanwhile, we hope you will find the following resources and opportunities useful.”

Artist Resources

For a full list of Government support available click here

For businesses currently in receipt of small business rates relief (SBRR)
A one-off grant to businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief at 11 March is available. 

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
The Government is offering self-employed individuals a direct cash grant of 80% of profits, up to £2,500 per month. Find out how to apply here

Universal Credit for the self-employed 
Available at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay and will cover 30% of house rental costs. Click here for more information.

If you are VAT registered
VAT for all businesses is being deferred until the end of June and the business loan scheme will now be interest free for 12 months.

Income Tax
For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. 

ACE grants
Arts Council England has made £20 million available to individuals working in the cultural sector, including artists, creative practitioners and freelancers. Find out how to apply here

Claim royalties for your work
Royalties can provide a reliable source of income during these unprecedented times. Here are a few options from DACS, which might help you pick up some extra income >

CIF free 6-month membership
Creative Industries Federation is offering freelancers and microbusinesses free membership for 6 months so it can support you with relevant news and updates whilst you navigate the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. Click here to find out more.

Archiving tips for artists in isolation
Art 360 Foundation is inviting artists to reflect on their work, and to seek new ways of imagining the future. Find out more here.  

Artists’ grant
Artists can apply to the Eaton Fund for a small one-off grant to help support their practise. Find out if you are eligible here.

Further advice and support
LADA and DACS have both compiled a curated list of useful links, while a-n is providing a constantly updating source of information and guidance for artists. Arts Professional has created an online magazine that deals specifically with art and culture in the new now. Read CovidCulture here.

2,500 museums you can visit virtually

Artist Opportunities

SPACE artist commission
Submit your proposal for a new project to be made in dialogue with older people based in Ilford. Find out more and apply here.

Call for paranormal accounts – deadline extended
SPACE is looking for ghost stories, possessed objects, musical performances, research presentations, workshops, cultural mythologies and folklorists to be part of the public programme of events that will accompany Tobias Bradford’s forthcoming exhibitionat SPACE. Find out more and apply here.

Artquest £1k WFH Residency
Now open for application, the Artquest WFH Residency is a £1K award to support artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more and apply here

South East Creatives
Keep an eye on SEC’s InstagramTwitter,  Facebook and LinkedIn for updates on how we’re adapting our workshops, events and mentoring online. South East Creatives is continuing to offer grants to creatives businesses in East Sussex, Essex and Kent that are able to continue developing their business during this period.

Run a creative online workshop 
Could you run a creative workshop online for adults, using materials that might be found in the home? Email with your workshop idea and contact details.

Take part in #artistsupportpledge
Artist Matthew Burrows has started #artistsupportpledge. Find out more on Instagram @artistsupportpledge or at

Creative Entrepreneurs
Weekly Instagram Live Q&A’s and online events, find out more here 
Plus a practical guide to COVID-19 Tools here

How are London’s galleries faring?
“For an industry that was already at tipping point, pressing pause might not be an entirely bad thing.” The Art Newspaper looks at how London’s young galleries are fighting for survival during lockdown. Read the feature here.

Take part in a survey on the impact of COVID-19 on visual arts workers
Commissioned by CVAN in order to understand the impact of Arts Council England and HM Treasury’s emergency sector support measures on the visual arts sector. Complete your survey here. 

As outlined above, this is from the incredible Space Studios – so thanks to them for putting this together. See their website HERE

For more advice for early career artists – see this Podcast

On Leaving Art School – Hedley Roberts

on leaving art school - hedley Roberts

On Leaving Art School
Before you leave art school, take advantage of being at art school. You’d be surprised at the number of students that register on a degree course but barely attend or do any work. This is plainly stupid. Art School is an opportunity to access experts that are paid to help you develop your art practice and help you build towards success. Don’t waste it.

Be social, but work hard.
There’s a lot of socializing in art. Get in the habit of getting up and getting into the studio early and working all day before you socialize at art events. Keep a diary of listings and how you spend your time. The best strategy at art school is to immerse yourself completely. After you graduate you’ll have other pressures, and will likely find it hard to commit the same amount of time ever again, so value it.

The Studio
Some artists don’t have studios at all, they work best in temporary spaces and use their laptops. For others the physical studio is essential. When you leave art school you’ll realize that studios are expensive, so apply to all the graduate schemes. Failing that, share a space. Other strategies include getting a cheap storage unit to keep your work and art materials in, and then using temporary space anywhere you can get it.

Technicians and Tutors
A good art school has a wde range of facilties. The way into these is through technicians, the unsung heroes of the art school. Often they’re artists in their own right. Get to know them, ask them if they make their own work. Then talk to them about your work and ideas and they can be persuaded to help you get access. Tutors will be the ones giving you advice on how to progress your work and ideas. Don’t assume that they’re also artists. They might be, but they might also be career academics or researchers. Their job is to support your learning through academia. Above all be respectful, they have lots of knowledge and experience that you can benefit from.

Go to Talks.
Go to lectures, ask questions and speak to the presenter.
There will be guest speakers at your art school who are artists, gallerists, curators, theorists. Go to talks at galleries and museums. Take notes in the lecture and always think of a question to ask after the talk. When the talk is finished, try to speak to the presenter, even just say thank you. In my experience, this is the best way to get an internship.

Visit Studios.
Artists studio visits are the best opportunity that you’ll have to make a personal connection to an established artist. Everyone likes to know that people like their work, so take the opportunity to say something thoughtful and complementary. Don’t be a provacative smart-ass, this can be a useful strategy to get noticed in theory lectures, but its not appropriate when you’re visiting an artists studio. If you don’t appreciate the work, keep quiet.

Document your work
Start doing this from day one and keep doing it. Make it part of your regular practice. Keep visual notes of technical processes, color palettes, work in progress, your studio. Organize your documentation into folders on an online resource like Dropbox. Get into the habit of making an inventory of works that you make using a spreadsheet software like Google Sheets. Use the rows and columns to list the works, media, sizes, prices, available works, location of the works on loan, who bought it.

Document your finances.
When you sell your first work you’ll need to complete a tax return, and if you have records and receipts it’ll be easier. It’s likely that,at the beginning your outgoings will exceed your sales. Also, if you get a job that’s Pay As You Earn, this means your employer deducts tax from your pay before you get it. This is useful, because you can offset lots of tax deductible costs from your art business against your PAYE tax. This means you can apply for a tax rebate and get some of your PAYE tax back.

Start writing about your work. Keep a journal where you write about anything that interests you. There’s no wrong way to do this. In the future, you’ll be asked to present or talk about your work. If you’ve spent time writing to yourself about it, you’ll have reflected on your ideas and spent time editing and selecting the ones that are important to you. This is the best way to begin writing artists statements that don’t sound pompous.

Art is about ideas, so find out about as many as you can. There’s an infinite amount of resource online, but the library is a sanctuary for research. If you don’t read because you’re dyslexic, there are lots of podcasts and audio books. Put them on headphones and listen in the studio. Take notes.

The Degree Show
Curators and dealers only go to the prestige art school degree shows. So, use social media to develop your profile in advance of the degree show, show the work in development. People will be more likely to attend and see the work in real life if they have already committed to following you. Make sure you invite people in plenty of time.

Social Media.
An emerging artist needs to have a fully maintained social media presence. It’ll be the most demanding activity you’ll be involved in. Try to think about it as a relationship builder rather than a mere shop window for finished products. Establish meaningful relationships with other artists, talk to them about their work. Make intelligent comments and support each other.

These are less important than social media. I’d recommend using a simple service like WIX. There’s a learning curve, but once you’ve set it up, you can maintain it. Don’t put everything on it. It’s best to keep it to a selection of your best work, an artist statement and a short resume/biography with your best exhibitions.

Artists statements.
There’s a lot of criticism of the artist statement. If you’ve been writing in your journal, you’ll have focused your thoughts. Try to write simply and clearly in your own words about your work. If in doubt keep to the subject, media and core idea. Use your own voice, don’t quote theory or other artists unless it’s absolutely essential to the concept of your practice.

Success and achievement
Think about what success looks like for you. Is it achieving a degree, or getting an exhibition in a gallery, or is making a living. There are many ways to be successful as an artist. The truth is that the art world is somewhat challenging to navigate. You might achieve this straight out of art school or you might have your first solo exhibition in your 60s. Along the way, you might have a myriad of different jobs, successes, disappointments. True success is continuing to make art when no galleries seem interested and there are no sales.

A recipe for success.
There a two pieces of good advice that i got early on in my career. The first was about getting into teaching. Someone told me “learn something that nobody else knows”. It was the 90s and I learnt to make printmaking from computers, which was new then. I got a teaching job straight immediately.
The second was about developing my practice. A visiting artist told me to experiment as much as possible as a student, then develop to be consistent in a way that is recognizable to curators, galleries and your audience.

Next Steps: Further Study
If you are considering a part-time or full time career as an artist-academic you will need to do an MA and probably a PhD as well, which will be expensive. If your aim is to be an artist, then my best advice is to get on with being an artist. However, if you work the sums, you might be better off applying to an affordable part-time MA that has a good studio space than paying the same for just a studio.

Next Steps: Residencies?
Residencies vary, there are prestige ones that are selective and funded and there are those that artists pay to attend. The latter are basically art holidays and should be avoided. A good residency will allow you time to undertake focused work in a new environment. This can be especially useful if you have to work in a job and need to set aside specific time for your art.

Next Steps: Collectives?
This is the best strategy that you can have. The sooner you begin to establish quality connections and networks with other artists that you can relate to, the better. You’ll recommend each other to galleries, curators, collectors, editors. The best collectives are fluid and without definition. Some will leave and new artists will join. You’ll share knowledge and inside information, you’ll promote each other. This is what social media is best used for.

For More by Hedley:

Hedley Roberts – Thinking about Professional Practice in Art Schools

Hedley Roberts – Thinking about Professional Practice in Art Schools

On my first day at art school we were told by the professor that the chances of becoming successful as an artist were infinitesimal. We should graduate, concentrate on the artwork, find a low level job that paid enough to keep a studio and hope that maybe we’d get recognition in our 40s or 50s. Then in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a new generation changed the expectation of art school students forever. Inspired by their tutors, they organized their own exhibitions, made direct contact with the press, liaised with dealers, collectors. They became curators, gallerists, artists and academics. They became successful.
Hedley Roberts
As the art world changed, so did higher education. Art Schools grew and achieved University status or became embedded in Universities. Regulations, pedagogy, quality assurance, accountability and metric assessments became the dominant ideology, and curriculum design outlined course content for a prospective applicant.
Now, having spent 25 years working in Higher Education and Art Schools I can see that my Professor was speaking about his world, his time, his context, his experience. He wasn’t predicting ours. He wasn’t able to see that a broad set of socio-political economic forces would conspire, and that the art world would expand massively beyond his imagination. He couldn’t conceive a world where the idea of ‘contemporary art’ would explode into popular consciousness and the ‘emerging’ artist would become a commodity, or an aspiration.
When academics design curriculum, they are future gazing. My Professor didn’t imagine the art world of today, so he didn’t design the curriculum for it. With an increased focus on quality assurance, and the contextual influence of the UK fees systems, student loans and student debt, academic course design needs to focus on ‘graduate outcomes’, ‘career paths’ and the future. It no longer is wholly about the acquisition of knowledge and expertise in the ‘subject’ but about how that knowledge would be applied by the individual in their future career. This presents a problem for curriculum design; how do you plan for a future that you can’t imagine. After all, in the 1990s we didn’t imagine the impact that the internet or social media would have on everyday life, or the art world.
In reality, the process of properly designing curriculum is a long one. A 3 year degree course needs to be researched and developed, and then formally validated through a university system a full year before it will begin. Typically a graduate will take 2 to 3 years mature into some sort of subject related employment or entrepreneurial activity. Therefore, the lead time from when a course curriculum is conceived to when its first students might be in related employment is about 7 years. This means that a curriculum designer is trying to imagine what the world will be like 7-10 years from
now. So, the question for curriculum designers is how to mediate the long gap between the first stages of curriculum design at and the contemporary context that the student is going to graduate into?
The answer is staffing. No matter how much future planning or industry expertise is considered at the commencement of the project, we won’t be prepared for the unexpected changes the future holds. So, the pervasive strategy has been to employ staff that bridge both the contemporary professional world and the academic world. In art schools, they are the tutors. Traditionally part-time, or on temporary contracts, they bring the external context to the curriculum.
The importance and value of part-time ‘artist-teachers’ has been a long respected component of art school education. However, within the university system there are competing pressures that require a new kind of professionalisation that has had an impact on this tradition. University processes have become increasingly demanding, requiring greater accountability for both student and graduate achievement. This is as a result of pressures created by the advent of the fees and the ‘Office For Students’ consumerist agenda of ‘value for money’. Following on from this, there is also a change in the financial balance in universities as they need to sustain more complex administrative systems to satisfy these regulations. The net result of this over the past 10 years has been a gradual pressure to reduce the number of part-time ‘artist-teachers’ in art schools in favour of full time professional academics. These staff then take on the longitudinal creative, pastoral and professional development of the students, reporting against metrics. The professional context is commuted to guest speakers and short contract sessional staff.
A criticism of this scenario might be that access to the professional world provided by the ‘artist-teacher’ is diminished and exchanged for student performance monitoring against specific learning outcomes as described in the course document. It might be contested that an art student’s learning might be fundamentally disadvantaged by not having been taught by an artist that is routinely facing the challenges of keeping a creative practice financially viable, negotiating with a commercial gallery, sending work internationally, undertaking public relations, maintaining an Instagram presence, managing a studio, invoicing, tax etc. This perspective, whilst justifiable, is largely based on an idea that the education environment is a the place where everything you need to learn will be made available to you. Pre-internet, it was practically difficult to find out anything about the art world, trends, professional practices, to connect to galleries, speak to actual artists. Those you’d meet worked as tutors on your course, and they’d be at the same openings that you’d attend. They were the source of information about the art world. However, ‘post- internet’ and in the age of social media; it’s an arguably different context. A student can reach out to artists, galleries, dealers, collectors though any internet-ready device. They can access online listings for events, opportunities, and awards.. They can find advice on how to photograph their work, pack and send it, download templates for artists statements, consignments, contracts and invoices. They can

purchase materials online and have them delivered to their door next day. They can attend any of the artist talks held at galleries and ask questions directly. They can make connections with artists from across the globe.
Arguably, there has been a paradigm shift in the lessening of the artist-teacher tradition in art schools. As a result, we may need to reframe our understanding of what core academics do. We need to understand that they might ‘research’ ‘study’ and teach the subject, but may not necessarily be vocationally involved in the practice of it. They may instead be career academics, institutional researchers, or pedagogues involved in developing their about how students learn. To be good at what they do, they need to understand that they are mentors who can guide and direct students to where they can find the right information. They need to actively design opportunities for students to be exposed to opportunities, exhibitions, studio visits; and to signpost and advise on the myriad of external resources that are now available.
As a Head of School, thinking about art schools, universities and education, I’m involved in future gazing. The signs are that complex data systems are being used to inform decisions and understanding. Like social media, academic systems track data about students; how old they are, their race, religion, sexual orientation, what socio-economic background they come from, where their family lives, what books they take out of the library, how long they spend on university computers, how long they spend in a virtual learning environment, how many times they’ve sought advice from student services, whether they’ve had mental health referrals. Imagine the same consumer logic applied in universities as is being applied in Amazon or Facebook, the same predictive technologies as in Apple’s Siri or in Alexa or Fitbit. The future of education 25 years from now might be an artificially intelligent personal tutor who cross references the course curriculum with career ambitions and personal attributes to recommend artists to research, reading, projects to address skills weaknesses. It could provide basic mental health support and guidance, organize appointments and push professional development agendas like a life coach mentor. It could be with you throughout your education, remaining as a professional coach into your professional life,
So, how should art schools support students and graduates to develop professional practice? The reality is that knowledge is already ubiquitously available to anyone with a smartphone. From my perspective, what art schools need to provide is not more concrete knowledge about the professional world, but to redefine the educational space as one of ‘play’. We need to unpick the idea of grading performance against abstract definitions. Instead we need to prioritize opportunities for safe spaces in which students can ‘practice’ and learn at a pace that’s relevant to their need. We need to create test-bed environments where they can try out the theory in practice. This will mean making courses that have flexible timelines, that include simulations of both creative studio and the professional environment: play spaces for artist-dealer negotiations or artist- gallery relationship, regular test-projects in partnership with real-world organizations. Most

importantly, we need to continue provide the opportunity for students to make playful connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, materials and professional environments, to pursue tangents and fail without fear of underperforming or underachievement. This is where creativity happens, where new ideas and practices are formed – when knowledge and understanding is tested through play, and new scenarios are imagined. For me, ‘serious play’ was always the best attribute of art schools, and needs to be maintained over the current preoccupation with ‘skilling’ students with knowledge for some spuriously imagined future career path.

For more guest articles, see:

Rosalind Davis – Surviving after Art School

For more from Hedley Roberts, see:

His Website

Rosalind Davis top tips on Surviving after Art School and maintaining a practice long term!

Rosalind Davis top tips on Surviving after Art School and maintaining a practice long term!

Photo courtesy of David X Green

Be professional 
If you are offered an exhibition or opportunity galleries and curators will notice your professionalism, or lack of it! Remember the success of the exhibition is not wholly down to them. It is a collaboration. Being professional, engaged, present and enthusiastic is much more likely to advance your career and networks. You need to be organised and meet deadlines and then nurture these relationships. It is really important to also say thank you and be appreciative to anyone who works on the exhibitions from the front of house to the Director.

Nurture Relationships 
Keep in touch with fellow artists and your tutors an anyone who has ever exhibited your work. Support others in the art world by attending their events and identify new mentors in your field of interest. Be proactive in creating a critical peer network. Nurture these relationships, be generous and it will reward you intellectually, creatively and inevitably create opportunities.

Build your confidence 
You need to be articulate and engaging when promoting your work. This can take a bit of practice and confidence which can take time but spend time on this too. Take part in networking events. Make sure you get feedback into your work where you can and understand what others read from your work.


Build your profile and Network!
Online networks are also hugely important to connect with new networks; curators, galleries, press and most importantly other artists.

How you get opportunities:

  • Research
  • Networking (online & offline)
  • Building Relationships
  • Promotion
  • Seizing / creating opportunities
  • Word of mouth
  • Being creative about space.
  • Being organised and professional
  • Being present and memorable
  • Being kind and polite!


Create a mailing list from visitors books at your exhibitions/ online mailing list sign ups and then send out invitations to your subsequent exhibitions. People in the arts want to know you are active, progressing, dedicated and professional. You’re unlikely to get interest in your work if you don’t tell people about it! Also ensure you give people enough notice about your exhibitions, telling people about it on the day or night before is unprofessional.


Have all these things ready and use them for marketing:

  • Website
  • Business cards & postcards
  • Newsletters
  • Social Media


  • Do not spam anyone or cold call with your work. It does more damage than good and will build you the wrong kind of reputation.
  • Spend time on marketing and your artists statement – both are more important than you might think. Marketing is not just for someone else to do for you, it should also be seen as a collaboration to promote the projects you are involved in. An artist’s statement can be a deal breaker on whether you might be selected for an opportunity. Spend time on these things!


When you get an opportunity consider all the possibilities that opportunity brings (and be proactive in making them happen!)

  • Creating / realising new work
  • Introducing new audiences to your work – who do you want to invite?
  • Expand your networks, from the artists in the show as well as curator, gallerist etc
  • Collaborate
  • Build your professional reputation
  • To get other exhibition opportunities
  • To learn
  • To teach
  • To inspire


Occasionally if you are lucky you might also sell work. This is really the one area you have no real control over so it is really important to focus on these other aspects in order to realise how much you can accomplish and can achieve. After every opportunity reflect on this.

Rosalind Davis and Justin Hibbs – Border Controls

Rosalind Davis

Artist, Curator at Collyer Bristow Gallery, Teacher and Writer.
Twitter: @rosalinddavis  | Instagram: @rosalindnldavis

What They Didnt Teach You in Art School.

‘Essential Reading for Artists’ The Observer.
Further info here.


‘Commixture’ at The Koppel Project – Hector Campbell’s Top Five

Commixture at The Koppel Project

Curated by Sally Gorham.


The Koppel Project in Central London plays host to Commixture, curated by Sally Gorham, a group exhibition that presents a snapshot of the current London emerging art scene through the lens of materiality and a diversity of mediums and methods. Each of the exhibited artists display continued exploration and experimentation within their practice, particularly in the context of their experience of media, material and physical making. The variety on show in Commixture highlights the innumerous ways in which artists approach creating, and how these approaches alter and change in relation to their navigation of the contemporary art world. The careful curation of Sally Gorham guides the audience through the exhibition, creating dialogues between not only the individual artworks but also the many disparate mediums and movements they encompass.


If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until July 13th, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Commixture’, (in no particular order).


ByHector Campbell


Nathaniel Faulkner


Nathaniel Faulkner, Maze Painting, MDF, spray paint, flock, 2019


Nathaniel graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London), having previously completed his Foundation in Art and Design at Bath College.

Nataniel’s work regularly references popular culture, cinematic history and invented architecture, and in Maza Painting he turns his attention to Stanley Kubricks 1980 masterpiece The Shining by reinterpreting The Overlook Hotel’s arhitectural maze model as a sculptural relief. Painstakingly crafted from MDF, the work could easily be interpreted as a work of pure geometric abstraction for those uninitiated with Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King classic, the addition of green flock however another nod to the creative process used in architectural and landscape model building.

Nathaniel’s work has featured in group exhibitions at Subsidiary Projects, London (‘Extended Call pt.3’, curated by Billy Frazer, 2018) Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix Gallery, London (‘Megalopolis’, 2017) and with Kristian Day (‘arc.’ at Herrick Gallery, London, 2018). Recent duo exhibitions included 2019’s ‘Italian For Beginners’ with Joe Richardson at Apthorp Gallery, London, and ‘showerthoughts’ with Gillies Adamson Semple at San Mei Gallery, London.



Elliot Jack Stew


Elliot Jack Stew, Hand Job I, Oil on canvas, 2019


Elliot recently graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London).

Elliot’s work explores the boundaries that exist between the public and the private, evidenced in this new ‘Hand Job’ series of works by the use of forced point of view, placing the audience in the position of the protagonist. Intimacy is again implied not only by the works tongue-in-cheek title but also the hand suggestive placing atop the assumed bed sheets. The depiction of hands as well as the works autobiographical context invokes the art historical tradition of ‘The Artist Hand’ and the ways in which artists try to hide, or in Elliot’s case embrace, their mark making.

Elliot had his debut UK solo exhibition earlier this year at Cass Art, London (‘Poster Boy’), and has featured in 2018’s East Wing Biennial (‘SURGE’) at The Courtauld, London. Elliot is also the co-founder of the ‘Collective Cuba Project’ residency programme in Havana, Cuba.



Helen Waldburger


Helen Waldburger, Slippery Fingers, Watercolour, oil and oil pastel on cotton, 2019


Helen recently graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London), having previously completed her Diploma in Art and Design at Camberwell College of Arts.

Helen’s work combines memories, thoughts, dreams and feelings to create scenes that are neither fact nor fiction but incorporate aspects of both to create a rich visual narrative. This layered approach to narrative composition is mirrored in the artist’s use of cotton canvases, which through their translucence expose the wooden support beneath, allowing for the expansion and extension of the works’ surface.

Helen’s work has featured in group exhibitions at Leyden Gallery, London (‘Platform For Emerging Arts 21’, Feb/March 2019), Stour Space, London (‘Sketchy London’, Aug 2018) and the Rag Factory, London (‘Sacred Blue’, 2016 & ‘Mother Russia’, 2015)




Cybi Williams


Cybi Williams, Gyn, Oil on canvas, 2019


Cybi recently graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London).


Cybi’s practice exists at the intersection of digital and analogue, and questions their relationship while exploring ways to marry the two creatively. His new series of work started life as daily digital sketches, an ongoing creative routine that provides him with ample visual material from which he edits and selects images that will become larger works. ‘Gyn’ exists both as Cybi’s original digital rendering of the work, as well as this physical oil on canvas piece that retains all the hallmarks of its nascent digital beginnings, a trompe l’oeil for the technological age.

Cybi had his debut UK solo exhibition at BLANK 100, London (‘Cybi Williams’, Aug/Sept 2018), followed by ‘Mundane!’ at Roper Gallery, Bath in January of this year. He was also the winner of the 2018 Clyde & Co Art Award.



Rupert Whale


Rupert Whale, Remnant, Acrylic on canvas, 2019


Rupert recently graduated with an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, UAL (London), having previously completed his BA (Hons) at Middlesex University, London, and his Diploma in Art and Design at Exeter College of Art.

Taken from Rupert’s latest series ‘The Incomplete’, 2019’s ‘Remnant’ displays the artist’s mastery of, and experimentation with, many painterly techniques as he approaches abstraction as device to investigate mark making and question the limits of the picture plane. The pastoral colours recall traditional landscape painting whilst the diverse range of expressive lines and brushstrokes evoke digital composition and avant-garde art movements such as graffiti, punk and abstract expressionism.

Rupert’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Critical Mass’ at Cloisters Temple, London (2018) and ‘Rupert Whale’ at The Stonespace Gallery, London (2018). Rupert’s work is featured in collections including the University of the Arts London Collection and the Tim Sayer Collection (bequeathed to The Hepworth Museum, Wakefield).




For more of Hector Campbell’s Top Fives

Drawing Biennial at The Drawing Room

Subversive Stitch at TJ Boulting

Radical Residency III at Unit 1 Gallery by Hector Campbell

My Top Five – ‘Radical Residency III’ at Unit 1 Gallery


Unit 1 Gallery and Workshop’s Radical residency returns for a third time following two success instalments last year, this time opening its doors to ten international artists, from the UK, France, Germany, South Korea and Switzerland. The month-long residency programme tackles the ever-pressing issue of studio costs in the capital by not only transforming the gallery into a large studio space but also a chance to exhibit during the resulting three-week-long group show.

By providing a communal space within with to work and develop their individual practices, a dialogue also arises among the residential artists, allowing for an artistic and creative exchange common at art schools but often lost as artists are forced apart by rising studio prices and a dearth of available spaces in general. Whilst this rich conversation no doubt contributes to each artist’s independent output, it also results in an exciting and cohesive group exhibition.


Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop founder and director Stacie McCormick states that “there are so many benefits to the artists working together in such an intense way, but the one that I did not anticipate, that seems to be the strongest, is the mutual respect and support”.

If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until April 25th, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Radical Residency III’, (in no particular order).


By Hector Campbell

Sooyoung Chung

radical residency iii

Sooyoung Chung, DYNAMIC SINGLE, 2019,  Acrylic on linen. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop

Sooyoung Chung recently graduated with an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art (London), having previously completed both a BFA and MFA from Ewha Womans University in her native Seoul, South Korea.

Sooyoung continues to document her daily life through her ‘Biographical Object’ series of paintings depicting individual everyday items, a process she began after moving to the UK from South Korea and finding herself having to buy and accrue the household items she’d previously taken for granted when living with her parents. Additions presented in the Unit 1 exhibition include a pencil sharpener, champagne flute, avocado and the instantly recognisable orange TFL ticket. Alongside the 18 small linen canvases, Sooyoung also exhibits one of her larger narrative works, in which she explores ideas of personal choice and taste by creating a portrait purely from the objects one surrounds oneself with.

Sooyoung’s work has featured in group exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Art (Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018, June/Aug 2018) and the Saatchi Gallery (The Auction Collective & Presenza’s ‘Abstract: Reality’, Dec 2018), she has an upcoming residency withElephant Labin June (Open Studios June 27th)



Hun Kyu Kim

radical residency iii

Hun Kyu Kim, Table no.1, 2019, Traditional pigment on silk. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop


Hun Kyu Kim recently graduated with an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art (London), where he received the 2017 Chadwell Award, having previously completed both a BA in Oriental Painting at the Seoul National University in South Korea.

Having adopted the traditional silk painting technique common in his native South Korea, Hun Kyu subverts the conventional art form by applying it to critique the current political situation of his home country. Anthropomorphised animals inhabit his allegorical paintings that reference anachronistic art history, folkloric fairy tales and polemic political commentary, creating dark, imagined vignettes where the conventionally cute creatures are rendered riotous and violent.

Hun Kyu had his debut UK solo exhibition at The approach in 2018 (‘Eight Universes and The Machine’), and has featured in group exhibitions at The Nunnery (‘Invitation to a Rave’, curated by Mark Titchner, July/Aug 2018) and HIX Art (‘Painting Now’, July/Sept 2018)



Lucille Uhlrich

radical residency iii

Lucille Uhlrich, it was about the brexit but maybe we can forget about it, 2019, Wood, cardboard, terracotta, superglue, string. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop


Lucille Uhlrich graduated with an MA in Fine Art the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, France having previously studied Modern Literature at the Université de Strasbourg. She also writes art criticism and essays for French publications and galleries.

Lucille’s miniature assemblages, crafted out of quotidian materials such as ceramics, cardboard and wood and held together with string and superglue, exist within a transient dreamlike domain where her symbols and structures imply language. The intricate constructions are delicately produced and carefully considered, with Lucille adding and subtracting elements until a satisfactory balance is found between not only the constituent materials but also the envisioned elucidation.

Lucille’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Starting from Scratch’ at Néon (Lyon) in 2018, ‘Instant d’après gammes’ at Galerie Arnaud Deschin (Paris) in 2017 and ‘Le Grand Malentendu’ at CEEAC (Strasbourg) in 2014.



Jean-Baptiste Lagadec

radical residency iii

Jean-Baptiste Lagadec, Mother’s day / Ariane VII, 2019, Acrylic and ink on wood. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop


Jean Baptiste Lagadec received his BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins (London) in 2016, having previously studied at the Atelier de Sèvres (Paris).


Jean Baptiste weighs the importance of process against the resultant artwork within his paintings, seeking to make visually the intangible, technological codes that underpin and assemble digital images, a hangover from the artist’s previous life as a purely digital artist. He, therefore, sees his adoption of abstract painting as his primary artistic medium as a rebellion against the increasing proliferation of and reliance upon technology, and the threat that poses to intrinsically physical activities such as artmaking.

Jean-Baptiste had a solo presentation as part ofThe AIR Programat Youkobo Art Space, Tokyo in 2017, and his work recently featured in the group exhibition ‘We Are The Ones Vol. 1’ at Carlsberg Byens Galleri (Copenhagen, Sept 2017) curated by Jordy Kerwick, Galina Munroe and Simon Ganshorn.



Henry Tyrrell

radical residency iii

Henry Tyrrell, Dubrovnik, 2019, Acrylic on linen. Image Courtesy Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop


Henry Tyrrell recently graduated with an MA in Painting from the Slade School of Fine Art (London), having previously completed his Ba in Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Art (London).

Within his acrylic on linen works Henry plays with colour, tone and form as ambiguous forms emerge within the shadowed canvas in various shades of grey, reminiscent of the frustration at a foggy memory or the annoying attempts to recall a dream. As well as walking a tonal fine line throughout his examination of grey, Henry also approaches the margin between abstraction and representation, as the shapes and symbols are left for the audience to offer an interpretation.

Henry’s work has featured in group exhibitions at the Cello Factory (‘Defining Structure’, Sept/Oct 2018), the OXO Tower Wharf (‘Orbit UK Art Graduate Show’, Aug 2018) and Chalton Gallery (‘The Politics of Too Many Rubbish Dinner Parties’, May/June 2017). His debut solo exhibition ‘Purkinje Flying’ was at GlaxoSmithKline, Brentford in 2014.



For more by Hector

Drawing Biennial 2019 at Drawing Room

Subversive Stitch at TJ Boulting


Insights into Curating with Rosalind Davis.

Insights Into Curating.

“I see exhibitions as a result of dialogues, where the curator functions in the ideal case as a Catalyst.”  Hans Ulrich Obrist


There is a great deal of curiosity about the job of a curator, most notably and understandably from artists; how do you curate? What kind of gallery do you work in? And then, there is always the question of how do I find artists for my exhibitions? So, I thought it would be useful to answer these questions and create a resource for people in the long term. Of course, all curators like artists are different but there are some universal truths.


I am an artist as well as a curator and have curated 30 exhibitions so far in my career. I was appointed the curator of Collyer Bristow Gallery in 2016;a very unique gallery in a law firm based in Holborn that was set up by partners of the firm25 years ago.  The focus of the gallery is to support artists through a dynamic gallery programme with a dedicated curator and space. Each show has between 15-25 artists and I curate 3 shows a year there, each usually spanning 4 months.


We have a focus towards supporting young career artists to help build their careers and profiles and so Exceptional is a graduate competition and award exhibition every 18 months. The winning artist in the exhibition receives a significant award of £2000 and, importantly being aware that competition fees can exclude artists from entering, ours is free to enter. In previous years we only allowed for artists to apply from three London art schools; Goldsmiths, Middlesex and City & Guilds of London Art School whereasthis year we will be expanding our competition to allow graduates who studied at any University in London apply.

It is a very exciting opportunity for artists and way for me to curate an exhibition focussing on these very promising and talented artists. In the other exhibitions throughout the year I support younger career artists through mixed group shows that showcases them alongside more established artists and helps build their profiles, cross fertilise networks and bring their work to new audiences as well as the opportunity to meet the other artists in the show. Collyer Bristow are also very engaged in the exhibitions and deservedly proud of the gallery. We have numerous events across the year for our many collective and different audiences including prominent arts organisations including the Contemporary Art Society, Government Art Collection, The Fine Art Group, The Mall Gallery Patrons and various other collector groups, curators, galleries, writers and artists.

insights into curating


How do you choose artists?

Apart from Exceptional, where the artists are chosen by a guest panel on their merits, the artists are chosen to fit within the particular themes of the show. To select the artist’s, I am always visiting lots of exhibitions (including Degree shows) research and collate lots of artist’s works. I have a very large library of artists and research on file. I also used to run an annual open competition before Exceptional as part of the arts organisation Zeitgeist Arts (which I co-directed) where I got to select and curate a huge range of artists work. I have gone onto work with a number of these artists again in other exhibitions. I have exhibited artists who were my teachers and students, artists recommended to me, artist’s I have exhibited with, artists whose careers I have been following and I am always looking! However, it can take years to place an artist’s work in an exhibition – for their work to fit in the right context. I have exhibited artists from their early 20’s to their mid 70’s, artists that have been to art school and artists are not formally trained – ultimately, it’s about the integrity, the ideas and processes of the work itself.  I am also keen to show unrepresented artists, as I am aware that exhibition opportunities can be limited.   Justin Hibbs (an artist, collaborator and partner) and I have lots of conversation about the exhibitions, coming up with ideas and thinking of artists to fit within the theme, as does Michaela Nettell, (who does all our design work for the exhibitions)  and other artists I know such as Sasha Bowles who I have also curated with in the past. They are all really engaged with the exhibitions and I am receptive to their thoughts.

One thing I don’t do (and I don’t know any curator or gallery who does) is ever choose artists who spam me or cold call – whether online or in person! For tips and ideas in how you might build a relationship with a curator or galleries can be found on a blog post I did for Hotel Elephant.


How do you come up with ideas for the Exhibitions?

The fact that the gallery is housed in a working and active law firm is a rich vein of inspiration for me. As an artist I am very sensitive about the context of a built space Collyer Bristow is a space full of narratives where resolutions are continually being worked towards, modified and resolved. My first exhibition at Collyer Bristow Gallery in 2016 was called Complicity. Artifice and Illusion.I curated the different meeting rooms thematically within the show that related to the law; such as extradition, mediation, copyright, divorce and dissolution, which was intended to be both playful and expansive given the galleries context. Often the titles are the starting point in my process, identifying the core themes or ideas of the show and then the works or artists who might fit within that context.


In the Futurewas an exhibition in 2018 inspired by David Byrne from a song written in 1985, that laid out propositions and prophesies about the future as he saw it then. The lyrics describe a future through a series of paradoxical statements that now seem strangely prescient in describing the complex reality where contradictory truths co-exist; such as the lyric; In the future there will be so much going on that no one will be able to keep track of it…. which all of us can now relate to.


Our current show Rules of Freedom, takes its starting point from history of how both women and men have been working to build a civil society that seeks to make the world freer, fairer and more progressive sincethe People’s Representation Act, enacted 100 years ago. Artworks in this show reference a broad range of subjects such as the civil rights movement, political freedoms, LGBTQ+ rights or freedom of movement, all of which are now under threat at this point in time. It is a show of Rule Breakers and Rule Makers, it’s title coming from an influential album by African American musician Nathan Davis, an avant-gardeJazz pioneerin the 1960’s who laid down through his music his own ‘Rules of Freedom’.


Re-Assembleis our next exhibition,that looks at ideas and processes of structure against the particularly precarious and fractured current political backdrop and previews on the 3 April, 6-9pm.

insights into curating

Twitter: @rosalinddavis |  Instagram: rosalindnldavis


For more about the art world

Paul Weiner –  Social Media and The Art World

Kate Mothes – The Internet As Vehicle

Drawing Biennial 2019 at Drawing Room – Top Five by Hector Campbell

Drawing Room’s annual ‘Drawing Biennial’ comprises both an exhibition and online auction of over 200 drawings produced by leading international artists spanning multiple generations. Featuring work by artists already recognised in the medium of drawing, as well as contributions from renowned sculptors and painters, the ‘Drawing Biennial’ promotes the importance of drawing within all areas of artistic creation and production.

Artists are invited to create an original drawing for the Biennial by Drawing Room directors Mary Doyle, Kate Macfarlane and Katharine Stout, alongside additional artist nominations from celebrated artists, museum directors, curators and collectors.

All drawings are then available to purchase via an online auction conducted during the final two weeks of the exhibition, each with a starting bid of just £300. The auction proceeds support the Drawing Room’s year-round programme of exhibitions, learning and publishing, as well as the expansion of its study library.


If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until March 26th, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Drawing Biennial 2019’, (in no particular order).


By Hector Campbell


Jessie Makinson

drawing biennial

Jessie Makinson, ‘Charm to Burn’, Ink and watercolour on paper, 2018


Jessie Makinson recently graduated from the Turps Banana Studio Program (London), having previously completed her BA in Painting and Drawing from Edinburgh College of Art as well as a Postgraduate Course at The Royal Drawing School (London).

Jessie’s works on paper are created by indiscriminately applying daubs and smears of ink and watercolour, which when dry form the basis of her emerging narratives. From the results of this process appear small anthropomorphised animals or fairytale figures, as shapes combine to form characters and costumes, rendered finally with the addition of the artists’ intricate line work. The randomization implicit the first stage of Jessie’s process allows for the narrative to only be found through the act of creation.

Jessie has work in an upcoming group exhibition, ‘No Patience For Monuments’, at Galerie Perrotin (Seoul) in April as well as an upcoming solo exhibition at Galería OMR(Mexico City), in June.



Marie Jacotey


drawing biennial

Marie Jacotey, ‘A Morning Amongst Millions’, Felt tip pen on paper, 2018

Marie Jacotey graduated with an MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art (London), having previously completed her a DNSAD at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (Paris).

Marie’s drawings give the viewer a voyeuristic glimpse into the private, personal lives of her subjects, who are often depicted during moments of emotion, reflection or vulnerability.

Contrasted against the pervasion of social media in contemporary society, where people’s personal lives are stage-managed, fictionalised and made public, Marie’s drawings capture rare, candid episodes that offer a glimpse into actual, true intimacy.

Marie has work in the current group exhibition ‘Club Inaugural’ at Balloon Rouge Collective(Brussels) which runs until April 10th, and her recent solo exhibitions include ‘Goodbye Darkness’ at Ballon Rouge (Paris) in 2018 and ‘Morning Defeats’ at Hannah Barry Gallery (London) in 2017.



Gabriella Boyd


drawing biennial

Gabriella Boyd, ‘Balming’, Watercolour and oil on paper, 2018

Gabriella Boyd recently graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools (London), having previously studied at Glasgow School of Art.

Gabriella’s paintings depict imagined human interactions charged at once with a sense of both hostility and affection, dreamlike scenarios rendered in a warm, rich palette of reds, yellows, pinks and browns. Figuration is stretched beyond our earthly understanding as her characters are depicted with their lungs exterior to their bodies, communication implied simply through physical touch. Gabriella’s narrative vignettes can, therefore, be assumed to exist within an otherworldly dimension, recognisable to viewers but with subtle, preternatural indicators.

Gabriella had her debut solo exhibition, ‘Help Yourself’, at Blain|Southern (London) in 2018, recent group exhibitions include ‘Dreamers Awake’ at White Cube Bermondsey (London, 2017), ‘The London Open’ at Whitechapel Gallery (London, 2018) and ‘So Everyone is Rich Now Apparently’ with Supplement/Arcadia Missa (New York, 2017).



Laurence Owen

drawing biennial

Laurence Owen, ‘Looting’, Watercolour on paper, 2018


Laurence Owen recently graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools (London), having previously completed a BA in Fine Art Painting at Falmouth College of Art.

Inspired by traditions and artefacts related to Folklore, Paganism and Mythology, Laurence employs a conceptual understanding of sampling and source material to create his energetic yet architectural works. Building on his previous study and use of the word ‘loot’, meaning ‘to rob’, he comments on the undeniable influence and inspiration that comes from our current exaggerated exposure to content. The act of art-making and exhibiting is also sampled and remixed within Laurence’s work, as often unseen and unconsidered elements such as frames, hanging hooks and pins are brought to the forefront.

Laurence’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Loot’ at Galerie PCP (Paris) in 2018, a solo presentation at VOLTA Art Fair 2018with Frestonian Gallery and ‘Channel Synthesis’ at Evelyn Yard Gallery (London) in 2016.



Nicholas Hatfull

drawing biennial

Nicholas Hatfull, ‘Three Studies for a Painting’, Pencil and gouache on paper, 2018

Nicholas Hatfull graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools (London), having previously studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art.

Nicholas’s absurdist, surrealist still life works capture and comment on contemporary society through the depiction of quotidian, mundane objects. Maintaining a language of rich visual reference points, as disparate as the films of Yasujirō Ozu and the packaging used by fast-food chains, his playful compositions are comprised of recognisable and relatable motifs. Subtly anthropomorphized objects act as human stand-ins, imbued with their often associated emotions to create an empathetic narrative for the viewer.

Nicholas’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Tofu Dealer (to kill my hunger in daytime wander)’ at Josh Lilley (London) in 2017 and ‘Tall Grass (Expert Pruning In Ethiopia)’ at Josh Lilley (London) in 2014.




For more by Hector Campbell, see his Top Five – Subversive Stitch ant TJ Boulting

Subversive Stitch at TJ Boulting – My Top Five by Hector Campbell.

‘Subversive Stitch’, taking its name from Art Historian and prominent feminist Rozsika Parker’s 1984 book and 1988 touring exhibition ‘The Subversive Stitch – Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine’, presents textile-based artworks across TJ Boultings two room space. Spanning the mediums of embroidery, weaving, tapestry, clothing and sculpture, ‘Subversive Stitch’ builds upon the rich history of the previously disregarded craft, considered a purely feminine and domesticated preoccupation until the twofold influence of  both the Arts and Craft movement and the Suffrage movement, of the late 19th and early 20th century respectively, co opted and subverted the medium, bringing it to the forefront of avant garde artistic practice. In contemporary art textile work retain that forward-thinking aesthetic, imbued with political, cultural and innovative touchstones usually associated with more traditional mediums.


If you can’t make it to the exhibition, which runs until March 23rd, here is a rundown of my top five artists with work on display in ‘Subversive Stitch’, (in no particular order).


By Hector Campbell


Bea Bonafini


subversive stitch

Bea Bonafini, ‘Shape-Shifting V’, Pastel on wool and nylon carpet inlay, 2018


Bea Bonafini recently graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Painting, having previously completed her BFA from the Slade Schools of Fine Art.

Inspired by primitive cave paintings located on the Island of Levanzo, Sicily, her large collages are fashioned from carpet offcuts, subverting the traditional function of the quotidian material as it becomes a wall-mounted artwork. Considering herself “a kind of anthropologist”, in ‘Shape Shifting V’ Bea amalgamates both human and animal imagery to evoke the iconography of not only historical hunt paintings but also contemporary anthropomorphic animations.

Bea has upcoming solo exhibitions at Bosse and Baum, London in June and Chloe Salgado, Paris in September.



James Merry


subversive stitch

James Merry, ‘Nike/Jöklasóley’, Embroidered sweatshirt, 201


James Merry is an entirely self-taught artists, having previously studied Classical Greek at Oxford University. While originally from Gloucestershire, UK, since 2009 he has been living and working with the musician Björk in Iceland.

His painstaking practice of reappropriating and recycling vintage sportswear by embroidering intricate floral and fauna into the logos explores the often overlooked overlaps between man and machine, nature and nurture, urban and rural. Often associated with post-apocalyptic ideas of Mother Nature reclaiming the earth and correcting mans misgivings, in ‘Nike/Jöklasóley’ the iconic Nike tick logo has been infested with weeds and a large ‘Glacier Sunflower’ (Jöklasóley) frequently found in the scandinavian mountains.

James also exhibits an embroidered headpiece consisting of plastic, UV thread and pearl beads, a recreation of an original created for Björk’s 2016 photoshoot with Santiago Felipe for the Evening Standard.



Charlotte Edey


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Charlotte Edey, ‘Open Tapestry I’, Woven cotton tapestry with hand embroidery in cotton and metallic, 2018


Charlotte Edey completed a Foundation year at Chelsea School of Art in 2011, and has since worked as a freelance illustrator and fine artist, producing work for clients such as the New York Times, The Guardian, BBC News and Penguin Random House

Her embroidery works put a surreal twist on scale, architecture and landscape to explore ideas relating to identity and modern femininity. ‘Open Tapestry I’, produced as an edition of 5, contrasts intricate figurative details with large gradient circles of rich colour to identify the identity conflicts rife in contemporary society.

Charlotte also exhibits ‘Fresh Water’, an original miniature tapestry channelling the concepts underpinning the Greek myth of Narcissus to examine self awareness and introspection, as a delicate hand reaches down to touch, and is subsequently reflected in, a pool of water.



Amanda Ross-Ho


subversive stitch

Amanda Ross-Ho, ‘Untitled T-Shirt (WORLD MAP #2), Jersey, rib, thread, acrylic, 2015


Currently living and working in Los Angeles, Amanda Ross-Ho completed her BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998 and her MFA at the University of Southern California in 2006 and has since exhibited international.

Previously working full time as a textile designer, Amanda has parlayed those skills into her fine art practice, recently created a series of twelve large scale collaged assemblages of cartoon faces expressing, each expressing different emotions synonymous with popular digital emojis. Her ‘Untitled T-Shirt (WORLD MAP #2)’ humorous scales up an otherwise mundane paint covered white t-shirt to such as size as to overwhelm the viewer and bewilder their sense of proportion.

Amanda’s latest solo exhibition ‘HURTS WORST’, featuring the aforementioned emoji-eque embroideries, runs until March 17th at Kunsthall Stavanger, Norway.



Hrafnhildur Arnardottir/Shoplifter


subversive stitch

Hrafnhildur Arnardottir/Shoplifter, Synthetic hair and mesh, ‘Sunny Smiley’, 2016


Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardottir, AKA Shoplifter, completed her BFA at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts in 1993 and her MFA at the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1996 and has since exhibited international.

Combining old-fashioned craft techniques with the unique texture and colour of synthetic hair fibres Shoplifter creates her playful sculptures and reliefs, that draw from genres such as folk art and naïvism. The instantly recognisable ‘smiley’ is a recurring icon in her work, and Shoplifter has recreated it in a number of sizes, colours and variates, choosing here to portray it in its familiar yellow and black colour scheme.

Her work is currently featured in the retrospective Nordic Impressions: Contemporary Art from Åland, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden at Scandinavia House in New York, which runs until June 8th, and Shoplifter will represent Iceland in this years Venice Biennale.



For more from Hector Campbell, see his top five of Interim Projects