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An interview with artist Charlotte Edey

16th Aug 2018

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Art is becoming an ever more diverse and inclusive space and at the helm of this dynamic movement are groundbreaking women such as Charlotte Edey. Through her mesmerising use of print, tapestries and ceramics, Charlotte brings her colliding worlds to a splendid and vivid light. Thralling through her work, you are witness to beautiful landscapes blended with Afrofuturism and complimented with a pastel palette. The undeniable sense of wonder and whimsy is immediately evoked and we wanted to delve into the inspiration behind Charlotte's art and what her fascinating and captivating pieces mean to her.

How did you get into your illustrating?

I did art foundation at Chelsea School of Art but didn't stay for the degree. I drew in the evenings, weekends, around various odd jobs and internships before I started freelancing. I mostly worked in Fineliner at the time creating monochrome works and exploring fluidity, perspective and the female form. They were pretty minimal. I worked with ceramics and concrete to realise them into physical objects. My current style that I started working with in 2016 is the introduction of colour. For the first time I am using pencil and watercolour for texture to create worlds, rather than structures.

How would you describe your illustrations and where do you draw inspiration from?

I would describe them as softly surrealist with a nod to Afrofuturism. I draw a lot from modernist architecture, arid landscapes and increasingly from the symbolism of objects, from pearls to shells and organic elements.

Yes your work does blend beautifully emotive landscapes with striking imagery, what is the reasoning behind this unique mixture?

I really enjoy using wide landscapes that engulf the character. The sensation of feeling small is quite sublime, especially when faced with something so much larger than you, be it mountains or oceans. On the other end, I've always found architecture emotive in terms of creating a space to inhabit. Spaces shape how you interact with them and I love adding modernist elements to my work.

You have been featured in a number of galleries and publications across the globe, which one has been your biggest accomplishment and why?

I was really honoured to be chosen by one of my favourite artists Juno Calypso to participate in the Artist of the Day programme at Flowers Gallery, Cork Street in July. It was my first solo show, and it was really moving to curate the show and to see the culmination of a few years work come together in such an incredible space!

What is your favourite material to work on and why?

My most instinctive is always Fineliner or pencil on card. It's the most immediate way for me to communicate. That said, I have been making tapestries for the last year and I completely love translating designs to woven fabric. The scale and texture is such a contrast.

Have you always lived in London?

Pretty much! I was born in Manchester but grew up in south west London. It's definitely home.

Your art seems to illustrate a haven, a utopia of sorts. Would this be a fair analysis?

I think there's such a power in the idea of creating and taking up space. I was talking to a friend about Virginia Woolf's 'A Room of One's Own' and we joked that my work is like creating a planet of one's own. Utopia to me exists as sanctuary and optimism.

In what way do your pieces connect to you as an individual?

Most of my characters are women of colour, and curly hair across a range of textures features heavily in my work. I enjoy that I am able to create and represent characters that I didn't see when I was younger.

Anything else you would like to add that might be pertinent to the feature, please feel free to include!

This year I was lucky enough to illustrate a book: The Spirit Almanac, written by Emma Loewe and Lindsay Kellner and published by Penguin Random House. It’s very spiritual and comforting; it was so lovely to follow the book through while I was illustrating it. It will be released on October 16th - I’m so excited to see it come together!

Charlotte Edey:

Twitter: @charlotteedey
Instagram: @edey_
Facebook: @edeycharlotte