The intricacy, vastness and awesomeness of Olivia Kemp’s @livvykemp work is enough to blow anyone away.
‘Pen, Imagined, Detailed’
In my brand new interview with Kemp we discuss careers as gardeners, using colour, artist studios, documentaries, surprising facts and more… Full interview online now. Link in Bio.
Kemp’s work is utterly relentless, spanning and sprawling and filling the entire work with intricate, expansive marks, demonstrating her immense imagination and insane skill.
Kemp studied her BA in Painting at Winchester School of Art, and went on to further study her MA in Drawing at Wimbledon College of Art.
LIVVY, How would you describe your work in three words?
Pen, Imagined, Detailed
FIRSTLY, Could you select a piece of your work and tell me a bit about it?
This is a drawing I recently made of my husband and myself titled “Wedding Portrait” its a play on a painting by Lorenzo Lotto “Portrait of Marsillo Cassotti and his bride Faustina ” Recently I’ve been making a lot of work that directly or indirectly inspired by old master paintings. I don’t really have a wider plan as to where the work will take my but its been a really enjoyable undertaking, particularly during lockdown.
AND What is your earlier memory surrounding artwork?
I really cant remember because I cant order the memories chronologically. I remember buying my first set of watercolour paints with my birthday money. It was the first time I’d spent my own money on art.
AND When did you know this would be your career?
I don’t think there was a tipping point, schools don’t really sell you on the idea of becoming an artist. I just kept going with my work until it slowly evolved into my career.
BUT If you weren’t an artist LIVVY, what can you see yourself having done?
Probably an art historian, or if it must be unrelated then a gardener.
Can you tell me a bit about your process? How do you know when a work is done?
I use pen and don’t sketch out in pencil beforehand. I tend to just sketch out lightly in pen, the bare minimum I need or I get bored, so I never sketch out an entire image before working into it. I just work across the page, wherever the interest takes me that day. I don’t really worry about when it is done, I don’t tend to rework the drawing and I stop once the page is full in most cases.
I WONDER, Have you ever used colour in your work?
I have a degree in painting so I did back then, but not much since, I don’t really understand the preoccupation with whether a work is coloured. I just do what feels appropriate to me, I never say I’ll never use a medium because I don’t know.
LIVVY What is your studio like? Where do you like to create best? What are your artists necessities? What could you not live without, what does an average working day look like to you?
I have a bit of a funny studio at the minute as its at home and we moved somewhere temporary during covid, so I wouldn’t say it defines what I want or need in a studio! I have to have good light and plenty of wall space. With my home studio I usually I have breakfast, workout, lunch then go to studio around 2pm and I work until 10 or 11pm.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I basically listen to documentaries all day every day so I have the strangest array of general knowledge on random topics.
You have had incredible success on your social media. What tips would you give to grow your following?
If I’ve learnt anything about Instagram its that its very random and difficult to predict, I honestly wouldn’t be able to give people tips because its so up and down and algorithm controlled that you can think you know how to post/what time/what people want and then the next day that stops working. So I try not to think about the dos and don’ts and just post what I want to.
If you could have a meal with any artist from anytime what would the meal be and who would it be with?
I’d like to have a meal with Rubens, I feel like he’d make great conversation and probably had good food.
What do you believe needs to change in the art world and needs to change now?
Art prizes need to be more inclusive and less expensive and residencies need to stop asking artists to propose career defining projects, its too much to ask and half the time when they arrive they’ve gone off the idea.
Do you have any exhibitions coming up that we should be aware of?
I have a solo show opening on September 3rd at James Freeman Gallery, it runs for a work. It all work inspired by the collection of the Museo del Prado in Madrid, where I spent a 2 month residency back in 2015.
What would your dream project be?
I have no idea, but I’d love another museum/gallery residency.
Favourite historical female artist?
Favourite current practicing female artists?
Kara Walker, Jenny Saville, Chantal Joffe, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Alison Watt, Kiki Smith
Who should she curates interview next?
Rosie Vohra, Lindsey McLean, Charlotte Keates, Nettie Wakefield, Becca Collins, Tyga Helme, Cynthia Cruz, Cheri Smith...just off the top of my head