- Orla Stevens
Artist statement for my upcoming Solo Show at the Tolbooth Gallery, Stirling.
12th May - 17th June. Informal drop in to meet the artist, 13th May 11am - 2pm
This exhibition titled ‘Playground’ focuses on exploration, positivity and its namesake - play. Colour, marks and patterns representing emotions, sounds and stories gathered from research trips across Scotland, and through creative play, are composed into the artworks. Recurring motifs or icons are also found throughout the work, which reference universal imagery.
Play has directed every stage in the creation of this body of work - right from field research: finding unexpected colours and textures from the landscape, from the neon pink of the setting sun, to the aqua algae growing on rocks. Sometimes works are inspired by words or stories, gathering snippets of conversations had with friends on walks outdoors. Other times, I collect sound recordings of a bubbling stream or bird call, and draws to the movement and patterns they make.
Carrying through to the creation of the pieces, I take the abstracted marks, colours and symbols from the sights and sounds from the outdoors back to the studio, and translate them into patterns, sketches, designs and paintings. Fascinated with how place shapes people, and people shape place, this body of work reflects a personal interpretation of my relationship with the natural world, and the mutual benefits to be had when each is considered with care in mind. Created through improvisation and instinct, these pieces reflect what I have needed within the current political and ecological global landscape - a focus on positivity, inclusivity, community and hope.
The exhibition has been designed to encourage you to play and interact with the show too; you’ll find a wall of loose leaf sketchbook pages (Orla’s preferred way of exploring ideas). There is an interactive magnetic puzzle (please make your own patterns and compositions using the wood cut shapes!). There are my palettes, tools and a film to show a peek into the process and methods of working, to invite you in to the experience and stories behind the work.
It is my hope that sharing the process of creating, viewing and learning to make art with others will encourage us to look closer at our surroundings, create stronger bonds to our natural spaces, and in turn conserve the spaces and the species that inhabit them.
Let me know your thoughts if you make it along to the show, or if you're coming along to meet in person on the 13th May, when I'll be in the gallery to talk about the work and share my thoughts and process with you.
12th May - 17th June. Tolbooth, Stirling.