Interview with Contemporary Artist Lesley Odaker

By Head of Communication and Sponsorship Lily Ratcliff

Born in the UK and currently living in Sweden, Lesley Oldaker has become an international artist showing her work from London to Zurich and even in China. She contemplates the frequency and rapidness of modernity through experimental and unidentifiable views of streets and blurred masses of people.

Non Conformist, 100cm x 100 cm, oil on canvas

Non Conformist, 100cm x 100 cm, oil on canvas

Q: What inspires you and your art?

A: Life around me inspires my art. I have always had a fascination with the way people interact with each other and their movements and purpose in life. I spend a lot of time watching people in large open public spaces and I try to capture this energy and movement in my paintings, as if I am still in that space.

Q: How do your feelings and emotions influence your work?

A: My feelings play a big part in my work. They are usually specific for the place and moment in time of where I am watching....train stations, airports, busy streets and churches, I try to express these personal feelings in a narrative way usually involving particular figures within the painting. Other people/viewers can also then relate to some of the common feelings and emotions experienced in their similar situations.

Q: Material choice?

A: I mainly work with oil paints because I feel they really lend themselves to mimicking the fluidity and constant movement of crowds of people. it is easy to manipulate and move about the canvas and because it takes longer to dry, I can change things too if I come back the next day and decide a figure isn't working in particular space etc.

Q: I particularly love your painting, ‘Passing Through’, what inspired you to paint this piece?

A: Passing Through was inspired by my personal feelings of displacement and not belonging when I first moved to Switzerland. I didn't know anyone, couldn't communicate with anyone as I didn't speak the language and felt very lonely and isolated. It felt that even though I was among and part of crowds of people, I was merely passing through them with no relationships and connections to them. The figure in the centre depicts this detachment and the almost visible face of the figure on the right explores the questions of identity and do I belong her.