Spotlight

Spotlight Artist Rebecca Parkin

Championed by Will Jarvis
The Wick - Medusa, pastel on paper, 2023
Above  Medusa, pastel on paper, 2023
ONES TO
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ONES TO
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The Wick - Rebecca Parking - Portrait
Above  Rebecca Parking – Portrait
Interview
Rebecca Parkin
Interview
Rebecca Parkin
When Will Jarvis tips a rising star, you take him seriously. After all, he is the co-founder of Gertrude The Art App – a digital platform for discovering the best emerging artists. Jarvis is also one of the brains behind The Sunday Painter gallery, a major force in London’s contemporary art scene, whose artists include Nicholas Pope and Gillian Lowndes.

This week he turns the spotlight on Rebecca Parkin for The Wick. The north London-based artist uses female characters from mythology, folklore and popular culture to explore the contemporary female experience. 

Her year is set to start with a bang in January, when her work will be part of Visage, an online show curated by Juan Bolivar for Blackbird Rook, as well as Bitch Magic, an exhibition at Alma Pearl.

Says Will Jarvis: “Rebecca Parkin’s pastel drawings immediately captivated me with their portrayal of wild-eyed and mischievous-looking witches.”

Initially, he was struck by these “incredibly adept creations,” which displayed “a profound grasp of light and composition,” however it wasn’t until he visited Parkin’s studio and discussed her work with her, that he discovered their “profound conceptual rigour”.

He adds: “They stand as astute feminist observations in their own right. Through her exploration of mythological archetypes of ‘wicked women,’ she sheds light on their enduring relevance, even in today’s politics. The parallels are evident: during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, she was incessantly labelled as a ‘witch’. Rebecca’s art subtly mirrors and comments on such societal dynamics.”

Fairies, mermaids, and monsters also feature in her work, used by Parkin as vehicles to explore our social and psychic fantasies.

She says: “I’m interested in the journey these figures take through low forms of culture and high art, religion, politics, and personal exploration, and how their currency changes.”

In recent years, she has been working in pastels with a restricted colour palette, composition, and style. For her latest body of work exploring mermaid mythology, however, she has freed herself from these constraints, expanded her repertoire of techniques and taken pleasure in pushing the qualities of pastel to the max.

Parkin adds: “I would like to use the series, as it progresses, in a much more fluid way to experiment with narrative and composition. The first images and sculptures of merfolk have been traced to ancient Mesopotamia and linked to knowledge and the underworld. Since then, these hybrid creatures have encapsulated all manner of ideas, fears and desires. Expansiveness, fluidity, and liminality are inherent qualities of merfolk, which make them perfect subjects to explore the creative process itself.”

The artist has also experimented with installation work, placing her drawings in a setting inspired by 1960s and 70s horror films for her solo show at the Zabludowicz Collection in 2022. We’ll be watching closely to see where she takes her mythical figures next.

About the champion

The Wick - Will Jarvis

Will Jarvis is the co-founder of London’s The Sunday Painter, which began as an artist-led project space, before evolving into a commercial gallery in 2014. He is also the co-founder of Getrude The Art App, a platform for discovering the best emerging artists, which blends social media and e-commerce.

“Through her exploration of mythological archetypes of ‘wicked women,’ Rebecca Parkin sheds light on their enduring relevance in today’s politics”

Will Jarvis

Place of Birth

Sheffield, UK

Education

Turps Off Site Programme, 2020-2021
MA in Fine Art, Royal College of Art, 2007-2009

Awards, Accolades

The Basil Alkazzi Scholarship, awarded at the Royal College of Art
The RK Burt drawing award, while she was at Cheltenham School of Art

Current exhibitions

‘Bitch Magic’ at Alma Pearl, curated by Celeste Baracchi, opening on 25 January 2024
‘Visage’, an online exhibition, curated by Juan Bolivar, with Blackbird Rook, beginning 4 January 2024

Spiritual guides, Mentors

Marina Warner, Angela Carter, Sylvia Plath, Kate Bush, Blind Boy

Advice

I’ve moved through my art career plagued by self-doubt. I also have an overburdening perfectionism and neither trait helps creativity. My advice to anyone with similar tendencies: don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s, don’t get bogged down with unhelpful criticism and enjoy the creative process.


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