From 1974-79 Olivia trained in London at Wimbledon School of Art and Camberwell School of Art (BA Hons in Sculpture).
In 1979 she was awarded the International Welded Sculpture Scholarship to the New York Studio School. She continued to live and work in New York for the next 5 years.
She has exhibited in New York, Philadelphia, London and elsewhere in England, particularly in the South West where she has been living for 35 years.
She has work in private collections in the U.S. the U.K. and in Germany.
Olivia has run workshops for schools and for the National Trust. She also (intermittently) teaches sculpture and drawing classes for adults in her studio.
For the past 5 years there has been a sculpture in the making for AHH (Affordable Housing and Healthcare)'s new building, Quantock House. This was an enlightened planning requirement of Somerset West and Taunton Council.
The result, which is related to earlier work of 40 years ago, was finally installed in 2022 and titled 'Time & Place'
Two wild 4 tonne blocks of Somerset stone, red from the west, yellow from the east, stand facing each other, each with a single cut and polished face. They are placed in conjunction with the blue brick column rising up through 8 stories of the triangular north east corner of Quantock House.
If you stand between the stones, perhaps you will feel them as a bridge between a 21st century building and the ancient geology of Somerset, a connecting place between Somerset's rural landscape and historic urban architecture: as a link between the wild and the manufactured, and between ancient geological time and this moment.
An exhibition charting the making of this work is being held at CICCIC nearby (see Exhibitions, TIME & PLACE EXHIBITION, and Gallery)
Recently I have been revisiting making woodcuts. I discovered a wonderful stash of tins of printing ink in a shed, most of them over 40 years old, and have been playing with these beautiful new colours. The first of the woodcuts (see left) grew out of one of the music drawings. In the past my woodcuts have been strictly black and white so the addition of colour is providing a huge and exciting extension of possibilities. The use of the existing grain of the wood, and it's relationship to the drawn/cut line has always been an essential ingredient to these works.
Music, drawing and sculpture
I have experimented with drawing directly from music, (see gallery). This feels like a natural extension of previous drawings and sculpture based on dancers and figures in motion, in which time, sound and energy, play such a part.
I intersperse drawing from sound, with observational drawings of whatever is around me. By doing this I can maintain a certain intensity of focus, when switching to seeing through my ears, rather than through my eyes.
These drawings have also become sculpture, and, as is so often the cyclical way, I seem to be revisiting afresh, ways of working and a certain spaciousness of thinking from many years ago. Exciting!
The exploration of us humans both in stillness and in vivid movement has always held me spellbound. Making portrait sculpture, is such a very quiet way of being with someone, and slowly discovering who they are. It still seems magic to me, that you can do this just with clay, and your hands, your eyes and the other person. You go on (and on!) until you reach a point when the sculpture seems to breathe back at you, then it’s done.
In the past few years I have become increasingly intrigued by the patination of bronze (the reaction between bronze, heat, and chemicals applied to the surface of the metal, resulting in colour). During the sittings the most apt colour of each person slowly emerges. Trying to achieve this colour in the final patina at the foundry is difficult and exciting. Thanks to Pangolin Editions for all their patience!
I've had an abiding interest with the figure in motion, and have explored the human body in drawings, sculpture and woodcuts throughout my life, working with models and dancers . I love the contrast between the long, slow, exploratory process of making a portrait, and the immediacy, speed and acute focus needed, in responding to movement, or fast held poses, when drawing.
Through making reliefs I wanted to bring these sculptural and linear elements together. I made clay reliefs directly from drawings, trying to recreate in relief, the taut and fleeting motions of the body, through using a different speed of modelling and wetter consistency of the clay. I also wanted to expand from the constraints of a single figure on a piece of paper, by making a number of reliefs in various colours, which can be rearranged together in endless configurations, adjusting and readjusting the figures used and the spaces between them, and thereby changing their relationship, their dynamic and their human narrative. I love sculpture being interactive and flexible in this way, becoming DIY choreography, that others can experiment with and enjoy also.
Planting a wood
If you are interested in commissioning a sculpture, or buying drawings, photographs or prints: or in possible future classes, please get in touch.