Ophelia Redpath

Born 1965, Cambridge, UK

Lives in: Higham Ferrers, UK

Describe your art in 3 words: Surreal, narrative, colourful

See More Work:  www.opheliaredpath.com | www.instagram.com/opheliaredpath | www.facebook.com/opheliaredpath

British Domestic - Oil on canvas 30 x 40 cm

"My work is currently centring on the relationship between the wild world and the human world, with an emphasis on the sharp distinction between natural life forms with their motivations intentions, unique characteristics and colours, and the synthetic world devised by human beings, which is rapidly eclipsing and confusing our planet. I pose questions as to what is natural at this point in time."

What themes does your work involve?
My work revolves around the theme of what in our human civilisations our wild world can cope with, and what has deviated from the natural links which are life-sustaining . I try to empathise with the state of our flora and fauna, and the confusion and threat we as another species are inadvertently visiting on our fellow creatures, and on ourselves in the name of speed, convenience and progress. I am interested in contrasting our clever, grand but synthetic inventions with our real and natural humanity behind scenes, whether in our domestic settings or in our travels or in our thoughts. I like to be an advocate of anything that has a pulse, and, through paint, to portray its needs its place, its dilemmas and its character.
Describe your creative process.
Ideas seem as wild as any seed landing in the garden by chance. I need to be open to anything, be it a scrap of nonsense or of something profound. I find nuggets of them in political essays, in greetings cards, via eavesdropping, in humour, in sermons, on the radio. Visually I will be arrested by details - a child in the snow wearing a teal coat., an impassioned musician at Ronnie Scotts, or in the black and white stripes of a lemur against an indigo sky. Sometimes they appear in my head ready-made. This is rare but heady moment. The work itself is much more straightforward and involves being at the drawing board many hours a day and working by trial and error until I'm happy I've conveyed the original spirit of the idea. I draught out the design and then paint using oil on canvas.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am inspired by sincerity of any kind, be it in the wisdom in the eyes of a whale, the grief of a lost soul, the passion of a street artist, or the agony and humour of marital strife. I search for what I feel is genuine and not synthetic, and draw attention to it in my use of colour, contrast and composition. I am influenced by wildlife programmes and commentaries and approach subjects as though I were a wildlife photographer stumbling on a scene and witnessing creatures behaving unselfconsciously. Because of my wish to see people as one of many different, this extends to human beings. I have a need to question our relationship to the natural world. Artistically I am very influenced by the jewel-like work of the early Renaissance painters, Magritte and Samuel Palmer.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Art covers so many categories - visual art, music, literature, drama, dance. Each discipline works with a difference sense, and some with a combination of senses. I feel that good visual art needs to germinate in the eye of the artist and convey the original idea to the eye of the beholder. But in order to be great art, the idea needs to reach further, via the visual, to the intellect and soul of the beholder. The same applies to music arresting the ear through rhythm, harmony and melody. It is good music if it stimulates the ear, but great music if it links the depth of the composer to the depths of another human being.
What is the role of the artist today?
I guess there are as many roles for an artist as there are drives to create. My personal view is that Art has the function of keeping us out of mischief. By mischief, I mean laying too much emphasis on "progress" without consequence and without taking time to process life. I have an analogy of someone on a motorway, driving full-speed, to get somewhere quickly without fuss, but without involvement in the world. The object is achieved, but nothing else is noticed. Someone else may travel on a country road, without hurry, and arrive in the same place, having been involved in every bump and geographical reality. I see the role of the artist as someone who takes the country road, softens or sharpens each frame and each second and adds their experience to the collective digestion of life.
A & E - Oil on canvas 100 x 75 cm
Not in a Million Years - Oil on canvas 75 x 100 cm
Sorry - Oil on canvas 100 x 75 cm
Happy Families - Oil on canvas 65 x 85 cm


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist