Flora Alexandra Ogilvy & Maya Asha McDonald, Arteviste, 12 February 2020

Caroline Popham is a London-based artist known for her distinct aesthetic; one that interplays with the concepts of both minimalism and abstraction while embracing a pastel colour palette. Popham graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts from UAL Chelsea in 2016, which marked her transition to artist from graphic designer - she previously worked creatively with Dior and Louis Vuitton. In the form of paintings or collages, Popham's serene creations have consistently proven to be covetable additions to revered collections such as Soho House.

Popham also exhibits her oeuvre throughout the UK and Europe. Most recently, her work has been celebrated in exhibitions such as Lines Around Ideas, London (2019); What Lies Beyond, CIRCLE1, Berlin (2019); and at Exhibit A, London (2019). Commissions include a stunning mural for luxury French hotel Les Roches Rouges. Within the realm of fashion, she has collaborated with contemporary British womenswear brand Chinti & Parker. Follow @carolinepopham


Describe the space within which you live and work? 

I have a studio in Soho, inside which it is light and bright; nothing but paint, paper and canvasses. It is industrial but peaceful. Home is another story, layered, colourful, bold, bustling.


Do you have a routine or rituals you follow?

The ritual of working daily is important, to keep things moving. If I'm in an exploration phase I work in scattered free fall. If I'm working on a commission, my energy is much more focused and concrete.


Which of your travels has most impacted your work?

It's not so much the places themselves, but the particular quality of the warmth and light - the idiosyncrasies and the sense of time travel. 


How would you define beauty in 280 characters or less?

It's an elusive quality which I feel as much as I see. It's a sensation. My heart beats faster, and my mind comes into focus to take in what I see in front of me. I'm drawn to extremes, simplicity but also chaos. Light and dark. Things which are soothing and minimal as well as complicated and difficult. There is unexpected beauty in marks on the wall or dust on the back of a lorry, light filtering through tall buildings, jarring combinations of plastic utensils, an incredible painting, or an act of kindness.


Describe the unique colour palette of your paintings?

I love colour and tones of colour. I reduce imagery in films to moving colours and seeing which sit well together in my mind. There are combinations which I come back to time and time again, but also through working on paper and collage, I discover new sequences to explore.


Are there particular artists who have inspired you?

So many and it comes back to contrast. Cy Twombly but also Ellsworth Kelly. Helen Frankenthaler and the 9th Street women. Classics. Then again, there is a new wave of artists on Instagram who also inspire me daily.


Describe your affinity for producing diptychs and triptychs?

I see them as individuals. I see them either working together or not. I see connections and relationships. I like the psychology of them being kept together or parted. I love how a painting needn't be confined to a single canvas, and instead becomes expansive.


Has social media had a positive impact on your work?

Yes. It has connected me to artists and collectors all over the world. It has started conversations. I see it as a positive thing. The undercurrent which I struggle with is the exposure of pushing work out there in the first place, and the vulnerability which comes as a result.


What role has your art education played for you?

It has been important. I studied graphic design initially. Returning to Fine Art at Chelsea four years ago was essential in changing my working path and charting the new direction I wanted my life to follow. I am continuously reminded of the lectures that I went to about material knowledge… the risk which comes with making a piece of work. The freedom to explore and the discussions that went with that were equally important.


Is there a subject or medium you're yet to explore?

I keep coming back to the idea of working figuratively, albeit in an abstract way. 


What do you wish every child were taught? 

To learn pleasure in simply creating something. That there is no wrong outcome in terms of a drawing having to be an exact representation.


What is your greatest indulgence in life?

I have a near-limitless appetite for stories. I never find anything trivial or silly if I get close enough to it. So it's possible for me to lose hours, days, whole phases of my life, to curiosity.


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