Sophie Wake is a contemporary British artist, known for her animal figure paintings and abstracted landscapes. Exploring human emotion through non-human forms, her pieces invite us to contemplate and inquire into the nature of our own personal suffering through the tender expressions of her animal-like beings.
After graduating from Brighton University, with a BA Hons in illustration, Sophie worked for over twenty years as a freelance illustrator, designing for a range of global brands, magazines, and publishers, including Hyundai, Waitrose, M&S, Heathrow, NHS, International Pharmaceutical Federation, The Garden Centre Group, Radio Times, Saturday Guardian, Telegraph Group, BBC publications, English Garden, Macmillan and Oxford University Press, to name a few.
A Buddhist practitioner, Sophie began to move away from the more corporate-driven world of illustration, towards a fine art practice that would respond to the rhythms of insightful meditation that fill her life. Through her own self inquiry, Sophie explores and questions the intimate connection between all living beings, creating images of pre-linguistic forms to challenge contemporary assumptions of anthropocentrism. Stripping away layers of self-awareness and cultural mediation, Sophie’s work reaches inward, capturing the beauty of raw emotion. This is expressed in the intensely human eyes that stare out from her liminal beings, prompting the viewer to consider who or what it is that is looking; who is the ‘I' that assumes responsibility for body and mind? Gazing into the eyes, we are invited to look deeply into our own experience, transcending the image to arrive at self-reflection and meditative introspection.
Working from her studio in Brighton, Sophie favours oil on canvas or gouache on paper, building up colour, stroke, and texture to create depth and dynamism. Often infused with a quiet, haunting quality, the paintings reflect on the intangible and the unknowable, revelling in small mysteries, while collapsing conventions of space and time to create a visual echo of simultaneous movement. For Sophie, the creative process is intimately physical, turning her attention inward and channeling meditative energies for each artwork.
In 2016 Sophie took part in Brighton’s Artists Open House, an established cornerstone of the Brighton festival. In 2017, she was nominated and shortlisted for 3 Artists Open House Awards, winning Best Newcomer and, in 2018, she was shortlisted for the Brighton Artists Open House 2019 brochure cover award. This year, Sophie’s painting HERD was not only selected for the Royal Academy’s 250th Summer Exhibition, but was chosen by Grayson Perry to appear in his prestigious Yellow Room.