A Mother-Daughter Interview for a Mother-Daughter Exhibition

‘Another Page: A Mother and Daughter Collaboration’ is an upcoming, unique exhibition hosted by Own Art member gallery Marine House at Beer.

From 2nd – 15th November, ‘Another Page’ promises to be a breath-taking and bold new exhibition by Izzie & Charlie O’Sullivan that will not only encompass the distinctive style and natural talent of this mother and daughter duo, but also the beginning of their artistic collaboration. 

We were eager to find out more about the shared process involved, as well as the behind the scenes of this close and creative relationship.

Izzie & Charlie O’Sullivan

Has creativity always run in the family?

There have been whispers of creativity in past generations, however, Charlie was the first to harness her ability for creating artworks, firstly studying a degree in Art and Design, becoming an illustrator, and now finding her medium in painting and clay. Therefore, my brother and I must have taken some influence, as he is currently completing his PhD in Art History and Architecture and I have just completed my degree in Fine Art at Goldsmiths.

What is it like collaborating with your mum/daughter? Were there any difficulties at all?

Frankly, the most we argue about is what’s for lunch and who’s turn it is to make tea. We work in different mediums and techniques. This means that we don’t overlap and are less competitive with each other, and also allows us to have an interesting discourse and create new and exciting works that we both wouldn’t have thought up alone. We find ourselves inspired by our respective methodologies melding.

How did the idea of working and exhibiting together come to light? And will you be continuing this collaboration in the future?

We have always had a close bond, but as we grew as artists, we found that we were inspired by similar artists such as Paula Rego and Janet Mullarney, amongst others. I (Izzie) have a passion for researching methodologies especially as I began to form my own. As I was beginning to grasp a better understanding of myself as an artist, my mum reached a point in her practice where she wanted to experiment with new mediums; Charlie became interested in clay around the same time that I started learning the technology of how-to 3D print ceramics. In my final year, we found ourselves on either side of the train tracks but going in the same direction, quickly deciding we should jump on the same train and share the journey. We started by acquiring our new studio just outside of Totnes and our collaboration has been continuously sprouting from there. As for whether we will be continuing this collaboration, it’s a “yes”. We have had inspiring time setting up our studio, learning how to maintain our own practices, whilst forming the foundations of our shared one. We have created some interesting works for our show with Marine and Steam Gallery, and are both excited to see where this takes us in the future.   

Izzie, you’ve completed university recently (congrats!), do you have any advice for aspiring students wanting to establish themselves as artists, post-uni?

It’s really important to make the most of university in three big ways. Firstly, the facilities after you graduate you may not have access to the same facilities or equipment to experiment with such freedom as when you are studying for your degree. Having the opportunity to try unique skills underneath one roof is an amazing chance to find out what you enjoy most and how you want to form your artist practice. Secondly making connections – it may be obvious, but some of the most successful artists in the UK came from groups like the YBAs. Although those groups aren’t always the way to establish yourself, group exhibitions are a great way to start. Lastly, embrace the fact you are an artist and embody it.

After university, it is important to continue to keep the connections with tutors and fellow students, to continue to visit exhibitions and sites of interest to keep challenging yourself and your work, as well as developing new relationships with fellow artists. This can support you to continue to develop your artistic practice after university and in turn begin to respect yourself as an artist, which will naturally help you establish yourself.

“…art can be a good investment opportunity beyond the fact that it can bring such an emotive presence to a home.”

How has university benefitted (or not) your art practice and is there anything you would do differently at all?

Goldsmiths has a very specific style of education and the independence of this, although shocking at first, challenged me. I believe it improved my practice greatly, both conceptually and in its physical outcomes. If I were to do something differently, it would have been to jump in with two feet first the day I arrived, to take full advantage sooner of what was being presented to me in the form of workshops, facilities etc. Try everything even if you end up hating it, you can always try something else.

How is your work inspired by one another and what would you say is unique about your style as individuals?

C: I take inspiration from Izzie’s concepts, her ability to formulate her research into many different mediums, shifting boundaries by combining new and old tech.

I: I admire my mothers’ ability to create highly detailed and figurative works, which embody an individual style. Her patience within her practice has always and continues to astound me when working she is able to make small gestures and subtleties that transform a painting or drawing. I also am inspired by her ability to translate these narrative figures into clay.

However, I wouldn’t say anything in our style is unique in so many words, rather that we consider ourselves to manipulate what is already there, to create different perspectives and to manipulated histories.

Charlie, as a mother and an artist, how have you seen Izzie’s artistic interest and style develop over the years?

Izzie has always had a natural ability to see things differently. There was never a bottle in the house that wasn’t full of gunk, I would open any vessel she could get her hands on and it would be full of the strangest of objects. As a shy and tactical child (and adult!) she imagined worlds and as she learnt the skills, she was able to create them.

Izzie, we would love to see more people your age buying original artwork for themselves, and not being afraid of it. Do you think the Own Art scheme is something that would help you make a purchase?

I would also like to see more people my age buying art, but it can be a scary thing as art can often be expensive especially in this type of social and economic climate. The Own Art Scheme can make this more affordable by allowing you to pay in instalments. However, there is no denying that art can be a good investment opportunity beyond the fact that it can bring such an emotive presence to a home. This along with with the social aspect of gallery openings and collectives, as well as the rise in artistic platforms like Instagram, can make buying art more of an interactive experience often being able to connect with the artist themselves.

Charlie O’Sullivan and Izzie O’Sullivan will be on view at Marine House from 2nd – 15th November.

If you want to see what else is going on at Marine House at Beer, check out their website here.