Elizabeth Poweris a contemporary artist based in St Leonards-on-sea known for her abstract joyful works that draw inspiration from renowned colourists such as Matisse, Hockney, Milton Avery, and Tal R. Power’s repertoire encompasses an eclectic range of subjects, from nostalgic and iconic coastal scenes to still-life compositions featuring florals and plants.
In a new body of work, Power depicts nostalgic and iconic scenes from the coast, from deckchairs to seascapes and seaside architecture devoid of figures. Power’s paintings are bursting with colour and life and represent moments of peace and serenity that she has experienced herself, inviting us to bask in the blossoming splendour and charm of St Leonards-on-Sea.
I cherish those calm moments and have tried to capture those times in my work so that they have some longevity
Since earning her degree from London’s UAL in 2018, Power’s talent has led to features and exhibitions with esteem publications and institutions from British Vogue, The Royal Academy of Arts, Home House, Soho House to Heals, The London Design Festival, Delphian Gallery, Art on a Postcard and more. In addition to a burgeoning practice, Power is also the co-founder of ‘Babes in Arms’, a community-oriented initiative that curates and hosts exhibitions to support and empower mother artists in the area, which she founded with fellow artist Annie Mackin.
Power’s majestic observations will be shown in her upcoming solo exhibition Coastal Calm, on 23rd March 2023 at 99 Projects in London’s serene Kensal Rise neighbourhood. Power’s paintings are more than just compositions of the coast; they symbolise the life and reflection that one can find there. We had the opportunity to speak with Power to explore her creative process, inspirations, and other facets of her artistic practice in more detail.
Q: Elizabeth! How are you doing? Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you please introduce yourself to those who do not know you?
Elizabeth Power: A pleasure! I’m Elizabeth Power, a painter working from my studio in St Leonard’s on Sea.
Q: Can you describe the trajectory of your artistic journey, including key moments and experiences that inspired you to pursue art as a profession? How have your creative pursuits influenced and shaped your life, and what drove you to choose a career as an artist?
Elizabeth Power: I did my degree at the University of The Arts London and then worked as an illustrator for a bit. For the subsequent decade, I worked for various London galleries, where I learnt the ins and outs of the business. I spent a lot of time working and cataloguing some incredible art collections, which was the best history of art lesson I could have asked for. I used what I learnt from my time in the industry to pursue my own art career.
Being an artist and also a musician has completely shaped my whole existence and without either of these, I would feel I was really lacking. I’m constantly inspired by everything that is around me. For example, architectures or interiors or places I’ve travelled to.
Q: Can we delve into your practice and explore the underpinnings of your work, especially the recently-conceived body of work which takes inspiration from your coastal surroundings and is part of your forthcoming exhibition, Coastal Calm?
Elizabeth Power: I live in St Leonard’s on Sea and feel incredibly fortunate to live in a place brimming with such exciting creativity. I feel constantly inspired by not just the place but the people who live here. The sea, the light, the architecture, and the pace of life have all become very influential and integral in my output.
Being a mum of two with a busy work schedule means I don’t have much time for myself, so I cherish those calm moments and have tried to capture those times in my work so that they have some longevity.
Q: Can we speak about your process of creating a piece, from the initial concept to the finished work?
Elizabeth Power: I work from my own photography as a rough starting point. However, the initial photography is very much just this; the end image becomes very much more abstract and imaginary. I tend to just start with a colour wash as I find it creates a warmth that glows through the paintings. Then I do a very quick and impulsive pencil sketch to outline what I’m going to paint, I like to keep this quite loose and quick, and then I start with applying the paint and colour block each section, one colour at a time. I quite enjoy watching it slowly take form.
For me, the biggest decision of any painting is working out my colour palette and plotting what will go where. I like it to always feel quite balanced.
Q: How do you see your art contributing to the broader conversation in contemporary art?
Elizabeth Power: Um, that’s a big question! I paint what feels right to me; if I’m being authentic, then I’m happy, and hopefully, that will come out in my work. I want to avoid following trends. I guess by being a female painter and a mother, I am contributing to a significantly marginalised section of the industry and want to use my platform and voice to champion others like me.
Q: As well as an artist, you are co-founder of the Babes In Arms Collective with fellow artist Annie Mackin, which champions artist mothers in the Hastings and St Leonard’s area. Can you tell more about Babes In Arms Collective and the essence behind it?
Elizabeth Power: Yes, absolutely; we started the collective to give other artist mothers a platform and build a support network. It started when Annie and myself were playing with our kids in the park one day and discussing how hard it is to be a mother artist, constantly missing out on residencies and even art openings. We thought how we are absolutely stronger together and need to make our own opportunities. Now we have this mega-strong collective of incredible and talented mother artists, it’s so inspiring, and I’m extremely proud of us and what we have achieved already, including shows at Hastings contemporary and The De La Warr.
Q: The studio is the sacred temple of creativity. What are three things you can’t live without in your studio?
Elizabeth Power: Music, incense and flowers.
Q: What’s next for Elizabeth Power?
Elizabeth Power: I have my solo show at 99 Projects opening on 23rd March, which I’m super excited about! I love exhibiting in this space. It’s amazing and also such a supportive team. Then I’ve got some large-scale paintings in an upcoming exhibition at Home House London, a collaboration with Cura Art, A Space For Art and Offshoot Arts. I also am about to exhibit in collaboration with Jigsaw and Art For Charity Collective. I have some paintings that will be in the new part of Brighton’s Soho House, and I have various exhibitions planned with my art collective over the next couple of months.
Q: Lastly, what does art mean to you?
Elizabeth Power: Freedom to express yourself, be authentic, fun and playful. It can really be anything you want it to be; life is full of rules, so art can be the ultimate rebellion to this.