Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 | 3 Comments
UK-based painter Sophie Alda populates her images with the dreams and experiences of her physically and emotionally imperfect lumpy characters. Starting with a kaleidoscope of stories rooted in the mundane, her images evolve and take on spiritual dimensions, examining the connection between our everyday hopes and fears to the myths we create. Working in gouache, Sophie uses a delicate colour palette which works oddly well with the rough and tumble
Q1. There are many references in your images (Demifloat and Totem Pole) to ancient myth and folklore (particularly gnosticism). What is it about these stories and world views that appeals to you, or draws you to explore them in your paintings?
Myths are interesting because they’re author-less and collective. They’re often very rich in imagery, I particularly like reading creation myths as they demonstrate alternative foundations of belief and explanations of existence that reflect the concerns of the communities that told and believed in them. And they’re often so complex! They demonstrate that cultures change and that stories change to provide the comforts we require. I particularly like the idea of the demiurge: the imperfect and artisan-like creator.
Q2. There is something spectacular about the fragmented format that you tend to work in (images like Heavy Brains). It reminds us of pages from a comic, telling many stories simultaneously. What is it about this format that appeals to you?
Exactly that! I developed this format in an attempt to present a fragmented, implied narrative. Like different sides of the the same story to create a texture of place and activity.
Q3. We love the plump, long-nosed, small-eyed characters that you often draw. Was it a conscious choice to stylize your characters in this way, or something that tends to happen naturally?
It’s definitely an on-going progression – although I definitely like my characters to appear a little gross and lumpy. There’s nothing more boring than a drawing of a figure which is just cutesy and pretty when most people aren’t like that at all.
Q4. Can you tell us a bit about your piece “Naked Summer’s Thigh” . What were some of the themes/ideas that your were exploring?
Ha! That one is actually quite personal, It’s about a really exciting and sad summer, breaking up and holidays and building sites, knowing your city and loving someone with bad teeth. – So lots of sides of the same story and a demonstration of how memory can be broken down into a series of scenic and representative landmarks.
Q5. We love all the Illustrations that you have done with artist Matt Swan (Earworms). What brought about this collaboration, and are you planning on doing more with other artists?
In summer 2011 Matthew invited me up to participate in a group show called Boondocks at his gallery Superclub in Edinburgh – it was a fantastic show in a very frenetic style with a great group of people. We started working on collaborative pieces almost straight away – live printing images on top of each other at the private view and continuing onto a series of T-shirts, and staying up all night painting. He’s a fantastic, prolific painter – I wish I could work with the speed and precision that he does!
We have continued the collaboration with a series of visits (I’m based in London) and most recently made some work together for his Dead Guys show, also at Superclub. It’s funny to tell people that we met on the internet! But it’s great to find that you work so well with someone who is relatively far away. I’d love to do more! This summer I hope to be working on a comic with illustrator Tom J Hughes who is an amazing storyteller with a great imagination.
Q6. What’s next for you?
At the moment I’m working on a series of shop window displays – I’m currently making a life sized hiker for a spring window, and some egyptian themed quilts. A T-shirt for the great company 1 in a 100, my next exhibition which is going to include a series of animations, painting and 3D work (The Bunker opening in May at Jaguar Shoes London), and a couple of comics. I’m also off to stay in Mexico for almost a month with my favourite girl who’s been living there since June last year – so expect to see that reflected in my work in some way!
S&TM: We’d like to thank Sophie for taking the time to do this interview.
All images © 2012 Sophie Alda.