Olivia Kemp studied BA Painting at Winchester School of Art and went on to study MA Drawing at Wimbledon College of Art where she was awarded The Jealous Prize.
Olivia creates pen and ink drawings that combine observational studies with fantastical places that exist only in her imagination. Constructing and re-modelling landscape, building worlds and imaginary places, h...er works contain dense villages of twisting tree houses within forests or crumbling buildings in seemingly ghost-like landscapes. It is memory in action, an attachment to a physical place that is fired by imagination: specific and particular, whilst at the same time sprawling and continuous.
While her smaller drawings are intimate and precise, her large works seem endless and almost infinite in their visual impact, packed with a plethora of tiny details which are each given minute focus.
Often taking months to complete, Olivia works directly onto the paper with pen, with no prior sketches or formative drawings. When creating her meticulous works Kemp notes that she often falls into a trance-like state, the final result surprising even herself.
"Working like that allows me to focus on the small area that I’m looking at that day I can create tiny relationships between objects. I don’t worry about the whole. I think it stops the size of the paper from overwhelming me. But mainly I do it because in the past, when I’ve sketched the whole image out beforehand, filling it in bores me."
“I draw in order to make sense of landscape but also to construct and remodel it. I build worlds and imaginary places that grow out of a need to interpret the sites that I have known, expanding and developing them across a page. This encompasses everything, from the visions of a grand landscape right down to the details of the land, the plants and creatures that may inhabit it.”
"I am particularly interested in the places where the countryside is marked with the evidence and strangeness of our presence amongst it: curious buildings and structures that can jar and clash with our perception of the picturesque. I draw these places for different reasons every time, sometimes I think they are beautiful, sometimes I think they’re funny. Ultimately you put them down on paper because they fascinate you, some of the time you’re still finding the reasons why long after the drawing is done."
Olivia Kemp's work is held in The Royal Collection (including the personal collection of Prince Charles), The University of the Arts London, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and The Rothschild Collection, for whom she was commissioned to create a piece based on the RIBA award-winning Flint House (2015).