Name: Olivia Abbott
Contact: @inthefleshstudios, https://www.instagram.com/olivia.k.a/?hl=en
How would you describe yourself as an individual?
I think i’m probably quite energetic, I’ve got quite a lot of energy, but I’m also very introverted. I think a lot of people that actually know me well would say I have a strong tendency to be very introverted, I can like, you know, be quite reflective, I think as well, slowing down and doing things quite slowly and taking my time with them.
And as an artist? How would you describe your artistic style?
That’s quite difficult, because I’ve only actually been doing art professionally for a couple of years, I don’t think I’ve really thought about it much. Over the past few years as I’ve been starting out, I’ve been very easily influenced by other people that I’ve been around. So, I think I’m kind of always tossing and turning between the things that I would want to do, and then what I see other people doing. Honestly, I think the way I would probably paint, I hadn’t had those influences is quite like straight cut, straight lines quite organized quite symmetrically structured, and the lines are quite crisp and thin, rather than being more messy and abstract. So I think that’s probably where my authentic style lies, but I think I’ve kind of digressed from that a bit, testing things out.
When was it that you first got into art? How long you been doing it?
So I started at school, and I did GCSE art, and then the Sixth Form College I went to you couldn’t, really do exactly what you wanted to do, they kind of filtered everyone into bundles of subjects that work well. I got an A in Art at GCSE. but then I wasn’t quite good enough to get onto the A-level course or something, and they put me into more of social sciences bundle because they try to get you to do certain subjects that you’re good at. So not getting onto the A-level course really made me just not want to do art for a long time. Then I started doing it again when I was in my first year of Uni, I decided I wanted to start painting again, I’d not done it since I was sixteen being told that I couldn’t. It’s a shame because so many people just don’t do what they want, because school tells them oh you should do this, you should do that, or you need to get X amount of grades, or that will get you more money, and I think we should be encouraging people to do the things that they enjoy.
How have you found the art scene in Manchester? Do you feel that it’s helped encourage you pursue what you want to do?
I started my involvement in the Manchester art and creative scene when I was in my third year of uni, just before the pandemic finished, so as part of a collective called Partisan Collective, it’s a community, arts and social space and I originally got involved with that through more of a politics angle, because I’d studied politics at Uni and they put on film screenings and stuff, and I was really interested in and liked the community vibe and just doing things with creative people. It was just a really good way to tiptoe into Manchester’s cultural scene. Then I was just doing art at home a lot especially during the lockdowns and then a now friend of mine, an artist called Jazz Sykes reached out to me on Instagram, and that’s when we founded In The Flesh, which is a small arts collective and then that kind of got the ball rolling a bit. So far, we’ve only put on one event, but we’re planning another one for November, and it’s just one night events, people showing their artwork, and it’s interactive so there’s stuff you can get involved with as well. So I met a few more people who were starting out, new artists, built that community kind of thing and I put work in for the next exhibition. And it’s kind of just slowly forming contacts, meeting one person here meeting another person there, spreading your networks. But that’s really cool, though, the way it’s slowly evolved, and meeting different people.
Who would you say is your favourite artist and what’s your kind of favourite genre of art? What’s inspired you?
Olivia: um One of my favourite artists at the moment is called Cara Nahaul. I really like the colours in her work. It’s really nice, and it kind of looks at like what is considered exotic. It’s very calming to look at, The colours are amazing. Then I really like artwork which is kind of producing a narrative. So if someone makes a series of like, I don’t know, like ten paintings, and they’re all kind of telling their little story or commenting, Evie O’connor. She did a series called What Will Become Of Us’ which is really interesting, because it’s commenting on how we really idolize like rich lifestyles and her works look at the emptiness of wealth so her paintings are very political, and I think it’s really interesting, because they’re really beautiful paintings of beaches and hotels, and all these fancy things but what she’s doing with it is kind of saying look how ridiculous this is that we’re like aspiring to this and I’m like oh, that’s really clever and it’s showing the emptiness of like that way of living.
What are your thoughts on where the art world is going? The changes- what kind of challenges are there? What are the positives, the negatives?
From my point of view, the way I see it is that the big art institutions and galleries, in the same the way that most big institutions that exist in the world who have had power for a long time hold on to it, will probably continue having power. It might look different, or it might change slightly, but like, I do think that power will probably remain. Maybe that’s good. Maybe that’s bad, I don’t know, but the likelihood of the big ones, coming to nothing, being replaced entirely, is quite unlikely. I think a lot of the structures that still have a lot of power, whether that’s a museum, a government, or universities will probably stay. But what I think is growing is more and more small local things, popping up and around, and I think people are kind of realizing that they can do it themselves as well, I think it’s cool if people do put on their own stuff and I think it’s nice that it seems like there’s more room for everyone nowadays. And I guess in a way if we’re talking hundreds and hundreds of years ago when the great masters were painting, women weren’t allowed to be on the same level, they weren’t encouraged or appreciated in the same way or taken as seriously, so I guess now in the same way smaller places are taken more seriously and valued more.
what would you say personally is the best thing about being an artist and being involved in the art scene?
I think it always keeps you thinking. You’re always kind of questioning like what you know about the world and about things. It just keeps you like questioning things, keeps you curious. I think it’s also the community as well, because the people that you’re around are also questioning. Maybe they’re doing it in different ways about different things. But then I feel like it just keeps your brain busy.
What would your advice be for aspiring artists and people who are looking to get involved and become part of the art scene?
My advice would be, don’t feel The fact that you may not have an academic background in art or so on will hold you back.