in conversation with Rhiannon R. Salisbury
“Satirical, dark, sometimes grotesque and slightly humorous.”
How did you first get interested in art and begin making works?
I think I have been interested in “making” from a very young age. When I think back to primary school I can remember every art project we did. From making kites (mine was made from purple tissue paper and sticks and green foil) to crafting ceramic Easter egg cups of fluorescent yellow chicks, and drawing witches and cats of stories I wrote. I don’t have any memories of any other activities at such a young age so I guess I have a visual mind. I began to pursue art seriously when I first enrolled as a student at The Art Academy in London Bridge nine years ago. As soon as I saw the life classes and workshops I knew I wanted to be an artist.
Your artwork questions the female figure in relation to modern society and surrealistic world of advertisement, tv and social media. How do you approach these themes in your works?
“My approach to these themes is satirical, dark, sometimes grotesque and slightly humorous.”
My approach to these themes is satirical, dark, sometimes grotesque and slightly humorous. I try to reinterpret the imagery I find in these modern media that resonate with me. I look for images that stand out or that catch my eye for a second or two longer than the others and then I save them onto my tablet. From this archive of stored imagery, I select material based on my mood. I will first draw from the images and then develop the drawing into a painting. I reference the photos for the drawing of the image and then whilst painting I let my imagination take over and so the image is reinterpreted through the mill of my mind.
How does autobiography enter into your work?
Directly and indirectly. Some of my paintings have been based on photographs of friends and family in various scenarios, however, these images have always been reinterpreted through a slightly hallucinatory lens of memory and fantasy. Other works which are based on images from advertising are less obviously autobiographical however I am intuitively selecting imagery that resonates on a personal level. I believe we relate to some images more strongly than others based on our cultural and sociological experiences as humans, this is why adverts can be targeted at specific demographic groups.
What is the next project?
I am really excited about an upcoming group show organised by an artist collective. The show is called “Absinthe” but will take place in four iterations over the course of a year at a pub called Spit and Sawdust in Elephant and Castle. It’s a really interesting brief and has opened up new potential possibilities and avenues for my work. It’s been great to think about the theme and push my work to its next evolutionary stage combining my interest in imagery from advertising but also linking this back to my interest in ritualistic intoxication. I have committed to creating a very large wall hanging for the show, after working small for many months it is really pushing me creatively.
Why do you think art is important and what is it for you?
Art is important today to share the experience. We live in a disconnected society, everyone is interacting but feeling isolated simultaneously. It is an amazing feeling when other people are able to connect with my paintings on an emotional level because it suggests a shared experience. In this way, art is a force that allows us to connect to shared universal experiences that underpin our somewhat lonely humanity.
“Art is important today to share the experience. We live in a disconnected society.”
Rhiannon Rebecca Salisbury is a London based artist. Her work focuses on the boundaries between real and fictional experiences, the blurry line between the conscious and unconscious mind. After receiving a first class honours for her Fine Art Diploma at The Art Academy, Rhiannon Rebecca Salisbury was awarded the 2015-6 John Hoyland Scholarship to study her MA at Chelsea College of Art. Rhiannon has been the invited artist in residence at “Rimbum Dahan”, in Kula Lumpar, as well as gaining places on a residency in Guadalajara, Mexico last year, and was previously awarded a scholarship to complete the Rome Art Program. Rhiannon’s paintings have been exhibited extensively in the UK but have also been shown in L.A., New York, Rome, and Mexico. She has extensive experience in curating and creating exhibitions in London. Rhiannon has been teaching since 2008, and has had special experience working with SEN students, young artists, and specialist creative day courses, as well as running a wide range of drawing and painting courses for students at The Art Academy and privately.