Delighted to be continuing my collaboration with @thewickculture @ktwlondon and bringing you this interview with the phenomenal talent of @orlandabroom
Orlanda’s solo exhibition ‘Rewild’ is currently open at @grovesquaregalleriesofficial until 11th June!
“I had someone on instagram who said, he got caught in a rain storm went into the gallery and was dried off by my paintings.”
Let's start by you telling me a bit about your CURRENT exhibition?
It runs until the 11th of June and it's my first exhibition with Grove Square. It's been really nice to have a show to work towards. It's been quite a while since I've done that, actually. So it's been brilliant, especially over lockdown. Just being able to focus on this body of work and get it ready for the exhibition. It's really lovely. We've done this installation of dried honesty stems. They're really lovely. It's carpeted the gallery floor. We've taken advantage of the facts we can't have crowds at the moment. It softens the space up.It's brings it to an immersive experience. My paintings are like that. They are immersive, and you get sucked in. It can be overwhelming with the brightness and everything going on. They are busy works.
The message behind the show is to be conscious of what we're doing, in a very gentle way. It's just not raising awareness as that is not the right way of putting it, but just to celebrate nature. When we think of climate change it is so depressing. It's awful what's happening, and we can see it now. It's not abstract anymore, like it was 50 years ago. When you've got snow in May, and icebergs just detaching itself. We're living in a disaster movie, it feels very real now. It's scary and daunting. I think it's a put your head in the sand and just think, "Oh, it's not, it's not happening". We need to celebrate the aspects of nature, and I've been trying to do that with the show.
There's a bit of an undertone to my works, but I have slightly drawn away from that in this recent body of work just because of everything that's been going on. I think it's been quite a tough year - me stating the obvious. And I think I needed for the work to have a bit more liberty and I so enjoyed using all the colours. So those previous sort of dark elements that I'm always thinking about in the background of my work, as themes, including the sort of dystopian, post post apocalyptic scenario, where everyone's wiped out, including the future where humans don't exist, animals don't exist, it's just the plants and the plants have essentially re-wilded and come back. In my work, the planet is back to equilibrium. It's wild and crazy. So that darker side is still there. I think the colours lure people in and seduce them with colour and shape. And lots of beautiful sort of mark making. It's generous and in a way, luscious.
I think the idea of re-wilding is particularly interesting in lock down. We all saw the speed and vastness to which nature reclaimed its home. For example the dolphins in Venice!
Exactly. You have to be sensitive in what you say about the positives of this, because you have to recognise that it's been really awful with people losing family. But because of this time, people have been able to connect back to nature a little bit more, because that's been the most precious part of everyone's day. Being able to get out and go walking and wherever you are, you know, that you can have that connection with outside space. I think that's been amazingly positive. Those clean canals of Venice, I love all that imagery.
It's that element of reassurance that nature always finds a way nature finds a way to come back.
So tell me a bit about what informs your choice of colour speaking bit about the darker aspects, but it seems very intuitive. It does bring back almost like a prehistoric understanding of what plants were...
I'm definitely very intuitive with with colour in the way that I use it. I've been using quite a lot of fluorescent paints. And I quite like the way that that crosses over into something that's slightly has a slightly surrealistic quality or slightly unnatural.. theres an implication of a toxicity potentially as well. I suppose those colour choices are a bit of a challenge, because using fluorescent paints is really difficult, because you basically put a bit of fluorescent on and everything else looks like a load of muddy colours. It's quite a challenge to sort of just keep that keep everything kind of balancing. The colour is primarily, it's that idea of like, let's seduce people here, like bees to a flower. Come and have a look at these lovely, beautiful colours next to each other vibrating.
Incredible. Are you quite physical when you paint? Are you clambering all over the canvas?
I never have an idea about what the final image is going to look like, it's always the composition basically always comes out of the way I'm painting. So the initial paintings are just throwing paint down - getting as many layers as possible. There's quite a lot going on. You start making choices about what you want to keep, and what you want to edit out. You're trying to retain those initial spontaneous marks and keep that energy. But it's basically a sort of organising job at a certain point, and you're trying to just make the composition balance. I tend to tend to put things on the floor, turn them upside down, and I'm always spinning the painting - that's the balance. It's quite fluid like that.
There's definitely a parallel to be drawn between the notion of re-wilding nature, and the idea of the initial things going forth underneath something.
That's a good point. Actually, I hadn't thought of that. You're right!
If you could describe your work in three words, what would they be?
Lush... Generous... Wild...
You can definitely feel a heat and wildness coming off them.
I had someone on instagram who said, he got caught in a rain storm went into the gallery and being dried off by my paintings.
That's a lovely complement. What's in the future for you Orlanda?
I always like to change things up quite a bit. I don’t like the idea of staying static in what I am doing, and I think my work evolves quite quickly throughout the years. I can see periods of change. Some of that comes from using different palettes, different surfaces and different materials. I’ve just started using gouache on paper, which has informed my larger pieces in terms of the sort of blockiness of colour
This time... it's been absolutely crazy. Actually, it's been really brilliant. A busy period of timeI have a billboard, like a hoarding as part of the Kensington Chelsea art week in Kensington High Street, which is really brilliant. I think that's just such a brilliant idea putting artwork out into public spaces and making it accessible to everyone. I'm doing the local open studios down here. It's nice - I can meet other artists and other people in the area.
Who are your favourite practicing artists?