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Olivia Wells

Olivia was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1991. She attained a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology from Durham University before studying traditional drawing and painting methods at the Florence Academy of Art, Italy.

Having been exposed to different cultures from a young age, Olivia’s work often considers the learnt and primal elements of human behaviour as well the subjectivity of perception. She also regards human engagement with digital and natural environments through an exploration of gesture, touch and the photographic image.

Show Location: Battersea campus: Dyson & Woo Buildings, First floor and mezzanine

Well, it’s quite the few years we’ve had, no?

Of course, we’d like to forget about the *C WORD*. Really. But there’s no denying it’s impacted our ways of thinking, making, being.

On the one hand, technology facilitated interaction where it may not have been possible otherwise.

Arguably good.

But the context? Has there ever been such a desire for touch in a time when to hug was illegal?

And so it poses the question: what does technology facilitate and what does it obstruct?

And what of touch? How does touch make us think and feel about our environments? What does touch facilitate beyond thought?

How do we relate to nature and how does technology and touch impact this relationship?




My practice explores gesture, touch and the photographic image. I consider ideas around our learnt and primal behaviours as homo sapiens and our engagement with our digital and natural environments.

In my series of silkscreen drawings, I push graphite through exposed silk screens of photographs I have taken of nature, creating loose, gestural marks in a relatively blind process. Here, touch becomes a vessel for expression but also a way of understanding the impact of touch. The impact is largely invisible until the screen is removed. This process poses questions about how our interaction with something changes it. When we put this in the context of the environment or nature, perhaps we might think about our impact in those terms. Not necessarily directly visible, but impactful nevertheless.

Then there are questions around algorithm, a prerequisite to digital technologies. It is the categorical nature of algorithm and the implications of how we understand the world that interests me. I see the space of making as something beyond this. What, for example, can be conveyed through gesture and imagery beyond verbal language? I seek to incorporate uncertainty in the images I create, avoiding absolutes, trying to offer puzzles and trigger questions as opposed to providing “truths”. I am interested in subverting the viewer's expectations as a way of unveiling preconceptions and offering a shift in perspective. I do this by presenting something both familiar and unfamiliar. I experiment with abstraction and figuration by using something comprised of a clear data set such as a photograph and combining it with something that might not be, like gesture. As such, I experiment with combining digital and natural landscapes, considering how we might have shared and individual responses to these, both learnt and primal.

Motion 1Graphite on Paper, 111 x 142 x 4.7 cm
Motion 2Graphite on Paper, 111 x 142 x 4.7 cm
Motion 3Graphite on Paper, 111 x 142 x 4.7 cm
Motion TriptychGraphite on Paper, 56 x 76 cm each
Sumi-e 1Ink and Graphite on Paper, 111 x 142 x 4.7 cm
Sumi-e 2Ink on Paper, 111 x 142 x 4.7 cm
Sumi-e 3Ink on Paper, 111 x 142 x 4.7 cm
CanopyGraphite and Ink on Paper, 111 x 142 x 4.7 cm
DriftGraphite and Ink on Paper, 111 x 142 x 4.7 cm
VerglasGraphite and Ink on Paper, 111 x 142 x 4.7 cm
Wave SeriesScreen Print and Digital Print, 30 x 42 cm
Light LeakArchival Digital Print on Hahnemuhle Paper, 100 x 150 cm
RiffWood Cut on Japanese Paper, 38 x 46 cm
WavePhoto Etching on Paper, 15 x 80 cm
Collision 1Photo Etching on Paper, 112 x 76 cm