About

About Ophelia

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I have had a career spanning nearly 30 years.  During that time I have exhibited in over 100 shows in Britain and overseas.

I was born in Cambridge, where I still live. From 1983 to 1984 I attended the Art Foundation Course at CCAT, after which I studied Music and Education at Homerton College, Cambridge.  In 1986 I took up painting.

I regularly exhibit at The Wren Gallery, Burford and at the Darryl Nantais Gallery, Linton, Cambridge.  I have also been invited to take part in the Annual Sale at the Fry Gallery in Saffron Walden.

I'm lucky to have an artistic and musical background.  My grandmother, Brenda Moore, and grandfather, Leonard Campbell Taylor were both artists. My mother, a musician and my father, an English Tutor at Cambridge, introduced me to the possibilities of music and literature, which inform  the bulk of my work.

The rest of the time I like to look around me and listen carefully to what people say, in case there's an idea in there to paint!

Technique

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Initially I began painting in oil pastel and gouache on paper. A ground in oil pastel establishes the basic colour composition, after which the gouache, a water-based paint, is applied. The reaction between oil-based and water-based substances causes separations of pigment which play against each other and result in a textured finish.

A few years ago I moved into working in oil on gesso-primed paper which excites me even more due to the richness provided by oil paints.  

Now I mainly concentrate on painting in oils on canvas.

I also like to work graphically and illustratively using fine-liners and coloured inks.  Works using this medium include illustrated books and wall-prints.

Clive James Review

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CLIVE JAMES the well-known TV presenter, novelist and critic wrote of her work:

Ophelia Redpath is the most brilliant artist of her type currently working in Britain . The only question is about what type that is. I know that it is particularly English, but there is an inherent difficulty of classification that may already have made her career more difficult for her than it might otherwise have been. To my eye, the special field of art that she represents falls into a radiant pocket of the spectrum that runs from illustration to painting, with all the purity and self-sufficiency of the unique painted work of art. If you were to give this movement in art a history, it would probably begin with the miniatures of Hilliard, and would flower with especial incandescence in modern times when you get to the work of Rex Whistler, so tragically killed in Normandy in 1944. Whistler's mural "The Expedition in Search of Rare Meats", which decorates the cafeteria of the old Tate Gallery now labouring under the title of Tate Britain, looks, in fact, to be the natural ancestor of Ophelia Redpath's own cavalcade of illuminated fable, although you might also have to bring in the set designs of Osbert Lancaster and Oliver Messel. (Really we shouldn't leave out Bakst and Benois either; not very English, perhaps, but still with that luxurious play of saturated pastel charm.) I suppose the quickest single word for her mind-melting lyrical quality would be "enchantment", but we would have to purge the word of any connotations of the twee.

Beneath her ravishing flourishes and festivals of colour there is a vibrant tensile strength, based on clinically analytical powers of notation. (One of the reasons you can practically hear her jazz musicians, for example, is that she gets the musculature and the facial distortions exactly right.) I could go on for a long time about her work, but sufficient to say now that I am proud to have six of her pictures here, and eventually, I hope, other works from various times in her career dotted elsewhere around the site, so that they will link into a birdcage walk through the outer regions of this strange space station we are building here in the middle of nowhere. Based in Cambridge, where her father, Theodore Redpath, was the don who taught me most about Greek tragedy, Ophelia Redpath attended the Art Foundation Course there and has exhibited in that city as well as in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and abroad, in Paris and New York. Much of her work is currently shown with the Wren Gallery, Burford. She travels extensively in Britain and Europe , always taking notes of expression and character from her fellow human beings, whom she was born to portray in all their magnificent and tumultuous individuality. Perhaps in that very point lies the quality that makes her something more than an illustrator (although we should never forget that a good illustrator is in itself a very rare thing to be): she portrays, not types, but particular people, so many of them that they look like a crowd. But they are a crowd only until we look closely, which, like no-one else in her generation, she can make us do.

Inspiration

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I am easily inspired....at times by the outside world, and at others by day-dreams and night-dreams of my own.

Many ideas come from books, especially those with strong visual humour and poignant moments.  Shakespeare's language has enough material to keep me going for centuries.  Other ideas reach me through the performances and observations of off-beat thinkers - David Sedaris, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Magritte...and even Homer Simpson.  I have a passionate love of jazz which seems the perfect medium a person can use to express their character, their openness to life's sounds, their heartaches and joys.  So often the starting point of a painting will be the image of a musician, and my wonder at what he or she might be going through.  Yet other inspirations seem to drift about in the ether, provided by anecdotes from my friends which overlap, and eventually distill into some kind of jigsaw structure to work on.

I draw delight from the portraits of Holbein and Dutch painters such as Vermeer and Jan Van Eyck; and the works of Pieter Brueghel, Edgar Degas, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Stanley Spencer,  Anne Redpath, Michael Sowa and Mike Worrall.  Close to my heart are the mysterious moonscapes of Samuel Palmer.

 

Other artists' work I admire are:

Paintings by Rebecca Merry at www.rebeccamerry.co.uk 
Prints and paintings by Jim Anderson at www.jimpanzee.co.uk 
Paintings by Claerwen James at www.flowerseast.com and www.clivejames.com 
Prints by Amanda Lebus at www.amandalebus.com 
Drawings, portraits and paintings by Peter Mennim at  www.petermennim.com 
Paintings and drawings by Pierre Clement at www.clement-interiors.co.uk 
Sculptures by Roger Phillippo at www.phillippoceramics.co.uk 
Ceramics by Sue Tutton at www.anglianpotters.org.uk