Frame 61

Molly Okell

Frame 61
Molly Okell

Past, education: I studied Graphics/Illustration BA Hons at Camberwell College and Animation MA at the Royal College of Art. With 15 years experience in the creative industry I am currently a visiting lecturer in Visual Communication/Animation at the University of the Creative Arts. I’ve been a practicing sculptor and printmaker for the last 10 years.

Medium, steel: I can only call it fate. I was looking at short courses at Morley College and was too late to get onto my original choice so I signed up for a course that was run by Giles Corby a contemporary of mine from the Royal College of Art. From the minute I walked into the metal sculpture workshop I knew I was in the right place. After my first weld I became addicted to steel, its versatility and strength is mesmerizing and its relationship with modern sculpture and industrial past make it my material of choice.

Time, process: I tend to work on a series of sculptures at any one time, which can take up to 6 months. I strive for dialogue between my sculptures and often between my sculptures and prints and the process is not complete until the dialogue is flowing. If I get stuck on a piece I start something new and then go back after a few days, turn the piece upside down and start afresh.

Experiences: All life experiences feed into the artistic process and continuously viewing work past and present informs your own practice. My recent visit to China brought fresh inspiration from Beijing’s 798 Art Zone to the controversial work of Ren Hang.

Spend your day: My day starts with three pages of writing in my art journal if I am in Peckham. If I’m in Ramsgate, where I have my studio, I will walk down to the beach and look out to sea. It’s the coastline that inspired Turner and I find the pure expansive and dramatic nature of it energizing.

Starting: I begin my work as sketches and then create maquettes before I start the actual construction. However the very act of using steel always takes me on an unexpected journey and ultimately I have to let the sculpture take control.

Sir Anthony Caro, Alexander Calder: I greatly admire the work of Caro and Calder and am especially drawn to the current exhibition of Calder at the Tate modern. I am also deeply influenced by Patrick Caulfield, Richard Deacon and the work of Agnes Martin with its simplicity and depth.

Titles: It all depends on the individual piece but I often name the work after my relationship with it is fully formed and the piece complete. In this particular series the names are relatively utilitarian, as I don’t want to distract the viewer from the fundamental narrative. 

Impaled or folding inwards: Using a singular shape I wanted to create movement and drama within the boundaries of simplicity. By manipulating steel so it appears lightweight and delicate and focusing solely on line and colour I fought to create the juxtaposition of flat planes within a sculptural environment.

The viewer: I want the viewer to concentrate on the layers of simplicity and to view each sculpture from multiple angles to enable them to experience shifting form, colour and line.

Future: I am currently working on a private sculpture commission and recently won an award to create two new print works with Rob White at Sanguine Studios whose background includes working with Damien Hirst, Gillian Ayres and Richard Deacon.

If you would like to see more of the artist's work click here for their website.

Publishing date of this interview 12/01/16