We are delighted to launch brand new limited edition print Heart Throb by Kelly-Anne Davitt for Valentine's Day. We met with Kelly to learn more about her work and creative routine.
We are excited to launch this print for Valentine's Day. Why did you choose to create a study of a heart sweet?
Reflecting upon The Hepatitis C Trust I chose the heart as a symbol of life and living, the throb is the beat, the blood being pumped around the body. I partly chose the Heart Throb sweet because of its name, I like the way Throb may also allude to sexual arousal, it amused me.
I often paint sweets, they are a vehicle for me to paint many different forms, shapes, textures and colours.
Your work is often playful and suggestive, challenging pop culture and the expectations of women. What do you want the viewer to take from your work?
If the work is based in feminism, I am usually bringing inequalities to the foreground to set-up conversation. Most recently, with a show I curated called: The Most Powerful Woman In The Universe, I wanted people/women to feel empowered and positive.
My more playful paintings referencing pop culture like Heart Throb, Cherries, Conkers are all part of a series I call Synthetic Optimism. I’m really excited by advertisements on posters at the bus stop, Tescos and Waitrose vans and shopping bags, and images online. I love looking through stock images of food and objects. There is such a vast wealth of amazing compositions and colours there for me to draw from and I really like how glossy, shiny and perfect everything looks.
My intention is to give these familiar images a different context through painting. I hope to deliver an opulent, optimistic experience which highlights and examines cultural imagery. Both in how the objects are painted and in what I choose to depict.
The viewer is presented with the beauty and humour I find in this bombardment of images. I hope to translate my energy, love and excitement for them.
I like it when objects have connotations: Cherries are always popped and Gobstoppers shut you up. I like finding the humour in these things and highlighting them. Often the title of an object and of the artwork is important to the audience experience.
Your works feature vibrant and often primary colours. How does colour influence your practice?
Colour dictates my practice. I am guided by my love of the bright and vibrant but also contrast. I like to depict bright colour descending into darkness. I really enjoy painting the gaps within things. I am compelled to study the reflections of colour upon objects. This is my ultimate painting fantasy. (I try to remember my job is to play)
Tell us about your studio. What do you need around you to work effectively?
I recently made a studio in my house. It overlooks Wanstead Flats and I have natural light and heating, which is still such a novelty.
I’ve had a big wooden structure built to house my large scale paintings. It’s on wheels so I can bring things closer to the window if I need to when I’m painting.
- Good quality canvas, brushes and oil paints. The best for opaque bright colours are Micheal Harding. I also use Old Holand and Winsor and Newton.
- My Mahl stick, which is a tool to steady your hand when painting. I have a Victorian one my Dad gave me which I love and use constantly.
- My camera and printer. A big roll of paper, colour charcoal, pens and sketch pads.
For inspirational purposes at the moment I am surrounded by vintage toys I keep buying off eBay and lots of different types of sweets.
Talk us through a day in your life. Do you have a creative routine?
My creative routine varies. I like to be flexible depending on what needs to get done. If I’m working on a labour-intensive painting I will probably start work 8:30-9 and work about 10 hours straight, have brief breaks and loads of tea.
At the moment, I’m getting started on quite a few different paintings and coming up with new ideas - on these days I need to walk. I’ve been walking through Wanstead Flats to Wanstead Park. It’s really beautiful there and it helps clear my head.
Then home, lunch and work until 7pm or for as long as I have the energy.
A young British artist, painter and feminist, Kelly-Anne Davitt was selected by the National Portrait Gallery to exhibit in the BP Portrait Awards, immediately after graduating from London Guildhall University with a degree in Fine Art.
Kelly has had solo shows: Beach Balls & Melons at Dadiani Fine Art, Cork Street and Feel Good at Blacks, Soho. She has also exhibited her work at Faggionato Fine Arts, Colony Room Club, Gallery 46, The Laurence Stern Trust, Art Car Boot Fair, Zoo Art Fair, Trolley Gallery, Outside World Gallery and Lights of Soho.
Through her oil paintings exploring the hyper-sexual images of women found online and within media, rendered realistically and with playful pop tones, Kelly achieves a contemporary approach and attitude to the time-honoured female nude.
She also uses light text sculpture to re-enforce the ideas within her paintings. Taking text that amuses and outrages her from tabloids and magazines and re-appropriating them to illuminate the ridiculous, absurd and humorous.
These themes remain dominant in Kelly’s work. She currently lives and works in London.