Vanessa Mitter and Doireann Ni Ghroghair met while studying for the MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts in 2010. They are now showing their work in a joint exhibition, I AM A BEAUTIFUL MONSTER at Arthouse1 Gallery, Bermondsey.
Vanessa’s paintings are brightly candy-coloured visions of the female form with an underlying darkness and autobiographical layers. Doireann’s sculptures are inspired by architectural details, and are cast in unsupported latex molds so they bend and buckle and lose their shape. Although their work is very different – Vanessa being a painter and performance artist, and Doireann a sculptor, they complement one another beautifully.
After graduating the pair stayed in touch with each other, and also with many others from their course. Those contacts turned out to be really useful for getting their work in to galleries (literally – one of their fellow Chelsea alumni is a technician who helped carry Doireann’s 100kg sculpture up the stairs and into the gallery).
Doireann stayed in London for a few years, but then ended up on the Fire Station Artists’ Studio Residency in Dublin, after a short stay in Japan. “Sculpture at Chelsea is really amazing. It’s because of that workshop that I started making plaster sculptures, and built up my skills. I owe a lot to the technicians there. We were really encouraged to experiment and collaborate, and it was from that that my work took on a different shape and direction.”
Vanessa, who works from her studio in Hackney Wick, has exhibited frequently since graduating, with shows in the UK and internationally. “Chelsea leaves you with a ‘can-do’ attitude and mentality, and the freedom to find what you want to do. We were encouraged to break down what we did, rip it up, and then put it back together. We weren’t focused on creating a finished product, it was more about finding out about what we were doing to get there. It’s like your work is a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, and you pick it apart and throw it everywhere and then you put it back together again slowly…”
Vanessa and Doireann will be giving a talk along with Emily Jane Campbell at the gallery on Saturday 1 July, from 4pm – 5.30pm. All UAL alumni are invited along for drinks and nibbles.