Kelly Blevins is an independent artist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Her work is characterized as hyper-realistic and sometimes surreal. Her artistic medium of choice has been drawing with charcoal or graphite on paper. Since 2012, she's been in exhibitions regionally and internationally with several magazine publications and print releases out of New York and London.
As a child she was fascinated by animals that are perceived as dark, scary, and mysterious. She recalls lying in the grass at night watching bats fly in an out of an old farm house her family lived in, and being impressed by their movements. Spending parts of her youth in Arizona, she has always been drawn to American Indian imagery and lore as well as mythology from ancient Egypt and South America.
Her love of animals also pushes her to capture on paper the images of some of the most majestic creatures of the world that are endangered or approaching extinction, like rhinoceroses and wolves. She is also taken by the small animals that live alongside humans; rats in particular.
Kelly hopes to continue challenging herself to confront the darker side of life and to portray the beauty of things often regarded as ugly or frightening. She says, "I think that all life should be appreciated. Some of the most interesting and beautiful things are in the shadows, disregarded, and willfully forgotten."
In the future Kelly hopes to expand her use of other media, experience more of the world to take in new ideas, and to create a bigger and broader body of work.
Ian Hodgson (Statement)
Originally from Yorkshire, Ian Hodgson graduated from Bradford College in 2000 and moved to Brighton, where he continues to live and work, exhibiting both locally and nationally.
His intricate drawings play with the idea of identity, examining how it becomes embedded in things, places and relationships - and often incorporating a trademark thumbprint! Subjects include architecture, objects and mythical figures, and frequently reference the transformative process of journey.
Ian's impressive skills recently won him the coveted National Art Competition's Finest Drawing Award.
For all the trials conjured by our bodies and minds, Emma Hopkins has emerged as documentarian in chief. A bright young star of British art, 2017 finds Hopkins in the ascendant, her oeuvre captivating in its emotional intensity and uncompromising in its pursuit of uncovering our facades and conveying our raw existence.
It is the revelation that Hopkins is a self-taught painter that proves most confounding. Born in Brighton in 1989, she completed a degree at University of the Arts London, where she was trained in the special art of Prosthetics for Performance. It was this that instilled an obsession with the human form and anatomy, one which coupled with her passion for the traditional techniques of portrait painting, led to Hopkins' approach being so unique.
A pioneer with seismographic awareness, Emma Hopkins takes the overt and the caressed, the yelled and the whispered and makes them tangible, bringing to the fore the battles waged by us all. In challenging our conception of the painted portrait she has ushered the tradition into the 21st century.
'We are not just the clothed person we present to the world. We are the mind and body that we inhabit, which at no point stays the same.'
In what she has come to describe as her 'portrait projects', Hopkins works with sitters over a period of a few months to a few years to enable a study of being that continuously changes over time. She paints those who have in their own right fascinated her as an artist, and who then become the catalyst for a larger body of investigation. The portrait projects act as a mirror to our multifaceted nature, allowing her to explore themes that she fears the most; hidden motives, illness and death.
A prodigious talent awarded both the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Award and the Bulldog Bursary, Emma Hopkins is now a regular exhibitor with the The Royal Society of Portrait Painters and at the forefront of contemporary portrait painting. Vital and transformative, her work tackles our core functioning and lays it bare with inexorable honesty. By melding the subject's anatomical and psychological existence with her own, she preserves life, divining strength from fragility and beauty from darkness; the result a timeless rendering of shared experience.
Brighton painter Chris Kettle is renowned for his subversive and original approach to still life, giving a modern twist to traditional themes.
Drawing inspiration from the Dutch Masters, Chris takes subjects more usually associated with pure study and reworks them in his own distinctive and luminescent style.
The resulting amalgamation of classic and contemporary gives rise to an engaging body of work of a quality to rival that of any of the Masters'.
Jim Sanders has been embraced by the Outsider Art world for years in Europe and North America where he has regularly exhibited alongside living and dead luminaries such as artists, Madge Gill, Aloise Corbaz and Mister Imagination.
Lauded by influential Parisian Art critic, Lauren Danchin and many others. Jim's work has also often been compared to that of fellow artist Grayson Perry.
The UK has yet to fully appreciate Outsider and Singular Art although recent shows at The Hayward and Tate Britain (2014) have highlighted this alternative to what people know as Contemporary Art.
The character of Outsider Art is obsessive, instinctual,detailed Art which sometimes takes years to complete. Along side Non-Western or Primitive Art it shares a common concern with the universal experiences of birth, love, sex, reproduction and death.
Sanders works in a number of mediums using found objects, recovered materials and recycled documents to create drawings, paintings, assemblage and constructed sculpture,. Challenging and uncompromising, mostly non-commercial, he works non-stop and produces a phenomenal amount of work, but rarely releases anything for sale to the public. His house is a living Art shrine with every single surface/floor/wall/stair covered in drawings, paintings, and various strange wood and metal objects for work in progress.
Jim has worked and lived in Brighton for 17 years.
Joseph Loughborough (b. 1981) spent his formative years exploring the derelict boatyards and creeks of Portsmouth, on the south coast of the UK.
After graduating from Portsmouth University he pursued interests in art, philosophy and skateboarding culture, living in London, Paris and currently Berlin.
Honesty, expressionism and catharsis can be read from Loughborough's impulsive and intuitive mark making, which strive to grasp a comprehension of the human condition.
Drawing inspiration from various themes concerned with Camus/Kierkegaard's notion of 'Absurdity', each drawing becomes a decadent theatre of emotion, sexuality and movment. Lonely human forms seem to struggle and ponder the sporadically lit space they occupy without reaching the point of a dramatic emotional encounter. Couples and groups of people cling together searching for an antidote to the revelations of their existence.
Personifications of latent hopes and emotions wait in vain to be realized. No specific conclusions can be made to the meaning of the individual works aside from the acknowledgement and indulgence of image, expression and technique. This reflects absurdity's philosophical model of observing our potentially meaningless existence without the sterilisation of Nihilism.
The irony of religious motifs act to enhance the awkward balance between secularism and piousness that the characters depicted seem to grapple with.
Questions are frequently asked of the viewer about how we interpret our oft-untold fears and desires.
'There is no higher expression for me than the love for the beauty of my female counterpart - in the case of this work - my Muse HH.
I study her form and myself with all of the inherent responses that come attached.
I've left behind my graffiti upbringing and shunned the shallow advertising ethics of Pop-Art to find something more juicy and emotive.
I picture her in a thinly veiled nod towards censorship as if there were some moral concept behind it but really I am revelling in her excellence.
My favourite thing to do is to go with her into the shady woods and see how her form is evolutionarily un-adapted to that environment and how her beauty stands out like a beacon to my evolved response of awe and reverence.'
"Shaw's paintings sneak right up to the classical formulas of beauty and composition, and then quickly back away again leaving the viewer wanting. She dangles completion in front of the onlooker like an unreachable carrot. While this palpable manipulation is at times uncomfortable, its reflection in contemporary life is equally so. The works evokes the emotions of incompleteness and wanting that can riddle this over-promised and unfulfilled 3rd millennium reality."
Seth Orion Schwaiger MFA, GSA
Sarah graduated from Falmouth College of Art in 2001; her work has been purchased by private collectors in the UK and abroad, and resides in many private collections, including Rolling Stone, Ronnie Wood. She works from her studio in Brighton.
Dark side of the Bloom
Following a Scandinavian tradition of art and design inspired by natural elements, Henrik Simonsen employs the inexhaustible richness of nature as metaphor for the vitality and vulnerability, the passions and weaknesses, inherent in the human experience.
Drawing is central to Simonsen's work, stemming from the directness of the mark-making process and the simple way lines on a surface create shapes and forms. All elements are drawn freehand, even in repetition, to maintain the life and strength of the line and therefore it's direct connection to the feeling that motivates it.
In recent work, paint and colour have developed a greater integrity, especially when poured or thrown at the canvas, contrasting drawn lines with an abstract element and imparting to the work a nebulous quality suggesting the shifting moods at play within formal expression.
These details are at turns obscured or revealed amidst a more contemporary take on the minutely observed taxonomies of naturalist still life. This traditional attempt at taming nature in domestic interiors is punctuated by splatters and pours, which betray feelings too unkempt to be contained in a civilized space.
Born in Denmark in 1974, Simonsen studied Art & Design in Denmark, New York, Venice and then at Exeter before moving to Brighton where he used to share a studio with fellow artist and collector of his work, Antony Micallef.
Henrik's work has been exhibited throughout the UK, Belgium, Denmark and America showing alongside artists such as Antony Gormley, George Baselitz and Gerhard Richter.
John Simpson has exhibited in London, New York, Los Angeles and Sao Paolo, and has shown alongside such modern masters as David Hockney and Andy Warhol. His serigraph print Eagle's Descent recently appeared on the cover of Snow Patrol's Fallen Empires album.
John's primary medium is the monotype, which is considered the most direct and painterly form of printmaking. Using a combination of drawing and painting in oil-based ink, layers of images are painstakingly combined to create the finished work.
Frequently referencing the worlds of folk tales and mythology, John's work explores the relationship between human and animal forms, producing images which are equally unsettling and enchanting.
Nettie Wakefield (b.1987) completed a foundation year at Chelsea College of Art, a BA in Art History at Leeds University and her Masters degree in Drawing at Wimbledon College of Art graduating September 2013.
Nettie has been exhibiting in London since early 2013 and was selected as 1 of 75 out of 3,000 shortlisted for The prestigious Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013 which was shown at Jerwood Visual Arts Space 2013, before touring to venues across the UK in 2014.
Wakefield had her debut solo show at the Rook and Raven Gallery in Fitzrovia in February 2014 and in June 2014 she donated work to a charity auction organised by Christies alongside Tracey Emin, The Chapman brothers and Jonathan Yeo to raise money for The Old Vic. The auction was supported by a pop-up exhibition in London's Soho.
Wakefield also showcased her work at Banksy's bemusement park, 'Dismaland', in 2015. Alongside artists such as Banksy himself, Damien Hirst and 55 other artists by doing a live demonstration of her Reverse Portrait series.
Nettie has recently been shortlisted for The John Ruskin Prize 2015 with supporting exhibitions in February and again in May 2016.
Nettie will have her second solo show in Los angeles at the Jason Vass Gallery in February 2017.
I work with unwanted suit cases full of old photos and personal mementos. I have been salvaging my collection since I was a child from jumble sales and the local tip where they have been discarded and are ready to be destroyed. My dad worked at the tip and always brought home 'treasures' for me. I uncover a potential painting by obsessively trawling through the discarded black and white Images from 1850-1950, rapidly becoming acquainted with characters that travel through their life in front of my eyes.
I abduct characters who I have developed an affinity with and plant them in my obscured yet familiar landscapes. I was a very shy, voyeuristic child always preferring to listen and observe, this led me to invent and play with lots of characters either toys or pets rather than people. My work is driven by issues of identity and alienation, creating characters in my paintings to form a unit within the identity of the individual viewer which is first formulated then challenged. I view my characters internal relationship as a family narrative, a violent power struggle to do with dominance.
Painting allows me to contain characters permanently frozen in emotionally wrought moments of despair, tormented by a formulated coalition and an alienated outsider. Utilising graffiti with unabashed clumsiness that appears absurd, comic and disturbing I abruptly corrupt the flow of the pictorial tale, violently disrupting a focal character. This creates an intimacy between the victim and the viewer through stark alienation.
There is a confused alliance of the real and the imagined, my characters have a childish naivety towards violence as though a game is being played and the realms of the canvas are immortal. I question perceptions by disrupting the familiar by invading the stability of Primary themes I can create a sense of moral distrust. When undermining these familiar boundaries a feeling of the uncanny becomes evident.