In Conversation with Abigail Hampsey

If you had to describe your art in one sentence, what would it be?


A vaudeville stage, with its own set of cast members who perform narratives that move through multiple times, locations and have their own alphabet of signs.


You depict images that often touch on the weird and the wonderful. Do you work from photos, your imagination or a number of different sources?


I tend not to use photographs as I often fall into the trap of making pure copies or renditions of them which is not something I am interested in doing. I'm more interested in the rendition of a memory of a place or using a description that outlines indexical markers of said place. I'm fascinated by the effects of a journey made underfoot and the specific relationships we have with these places, be them places often frequented or places within a fictional narrative. 

You have created pieces that range significantly in terms of scale in the past. How do you decide on size when you start a new work? Do you have a preference?


Often the size of a work has a direct relationship to the context of the painting. For instance, the painting "The Oaks of Avalon is the size it is because I was researching the two oldest oak trees in the UK and the subsequent folklores and myths that surround them. I took the average size of a typical oak tree in the UK and the current size of the two ancient trees and calculated the mean average, that being 3ft by 2ft, equally for me 300cm/200cm. 


How has the pandemic and the various lockdowns affected your work and practice? Did it have a significant impact, or were you able to work as usual?


I moved to London from Newcastle at the beginning of the second lockdown to begin my studies at the RCA, I had no studio and no network at all, so I was confined to my bedroom for most of the time. Although this was difficult in terms of making more traditional oil paintings, I learned a lot in that time and became more aware of the setting or the perceived stage in which artworks sit, as well as an economy of materials, making do with what I had and finding creative answers to some logistical problems while working from home.


We know that you are interested in creating work that defies the limitations of the edges of the canvas. Do you have any unrealized projects that you can tell us about?


As much as painting is my primary medium of choice, I also have a large archive of analogy photographs and film that I have been creating for years. I'm interested in the relationship between the process of darkroom printing and oil painting and am excited about the prospect of this archive making an appearance one day soon.

April 14, 2022