Drawing Acts

Drawing Act IV

Olivia Sterling

Solid, Liquid, Gas

Olivia Sterling was commissioned to lead Drawing Act IV, in response to the exhibition If there ever were an end to a story that had no beginning by Vanessa Baird. The exhibition displayed a series of expressive self-portraits of family and domestic life, depicting Baird’s experience as mother, daughter, carer and artist. The use of humour, strong colours and playful techniques to draw on social dynamics within the everyday connect Olivia and Baird’s work, as well as their shared interest in folklore and otherness.

The project was a collaboration with Coin Street Community Centre and their art group for residents over the age of 50. Each week the group came together around a long table, similar to one that features in many of  Baird’s works, to share memories and experiences related to personal cultural identities. The table, the blanket and the book were domestic objects, used as an anchor to accesses memories.

Cyanotype and drawings of nostalgic objects were transformed into a book; childhood food dishes constructed in felt were transformed into a table cloth; multi-patterned family fabrics formed a blanket. The final session culminated with a tea party, which brought together the body of work produced during the project. A publication which documents the journey of the project has been shared and archived in Drawing Room’s Library.

Olivia Sterling graduated with MA Painting, Royal College of Art, 2020. Through drawing and painting she address questions of blackness and whiteness in twenty-first century Britain. Her work presents scenes of colourful mayhem with a nostalgic twist and signature ‘slapstick’ style, combining joyous celebration with a subtle critique of racialised ways of seeing.  Recent solo shows include: Dinner with a Show, Meyer Riegger, Berlin, 2022; Manslaughter, Guts Gallery, London, 2022; Yowl, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2022; White Bread, Cob Gallery, London, 2021; Episodes, CCA Goldsmiths, London, 2021.

Coin Street Community Builders a social enterprise working in Waterloo and North Southwark, London. From a derelict site in 1984, it has become a vibrant place of community, offering a variety of services to residents.

Thank you to all involved:

Carlos, Cathy, Charlotte, Claudia, Coleen, Elisabeth, Gerry, Jacky, Jacqueline, Katerina, Magie, Maureen, Wendy R and Wendy S, Coin Street Community Builders Members

Anna Glarin, Community Programmes Coordinator, Coin Street Community Builders

Misty Ingham, Learning Curator (Maternity Cover), Drawing Room

Olivia Sterling, Artist

Sheyamali Sudesh, Learning Coordinator, Drawing Room

Varv Varv, Publication Graphic Design