Painted Blind | A Conversation with Nichole Fitch and Nettie Wakefield
“The object of art is to give life a shape,” are token words of wisdom William Shakespeare endowed onto the world, and now, Londoners Nichole Fitch and Nettie Wakefield are spinning into action. Inspired by the blurred and elusive lines between fact and fiction, Fitch and Wakefield are creating a platform for the discourse around fake news through the mediums of oils and graphite. In our advent ‘post-truth’ society, one where realness feels increasingly more ambiguous, art becomes our lifeline and a means to ground us. The artists inclination and fascination towards fairytales, fantasy and mythology results in an eerie interpretation of what happens when cold, detached scientific observation meets the rich living world of myth and fantasy.
Fitch and Wakefield’s fierce collaborate art show, “Painted Blind” - which namesake is inspired by Shakespeare - will have a special opening night at the Soho Revue Gallery tomorrow night from 6-10PM. The show will run until September 20th.
Check out the conversation moderated by their dear friend, creative director, digital consultant and stylist India Rose James below.
India Rose: How would you both describe your style?
Nettie: I suppose people might describe my style as quite tight, considered, soft, delicate, detailed.
Nichole: Fluid, watery, sometimes refined and expressive.
India Rose: Nichole, I’ve noticed you often depict yourself in your paintings, can you tell us a little more about this?
Nichole: I wish I had a long strung out reason why I only paint myself, like I’m trying to find myself in each painting, which is probably subconsciously true. But, I paint myself because I’m always there and I can’t offend myself if I fuck up...Can I?
India Rose: How did you come to collaborate?
Nettie: I think we had always dreamt about doing something together. Nichole and I met in London when Nichole was studying at Goldsmiths. Our ex-boyfriends were flatmates and we discovered we had many mutual friends. We then met again in New York and became close. Nichole told me she was working on some paintings she had done based on a series of dreams and I had been having the urge to return inward. I had been reading old mythology books my mother had given me, feeling like I wanted to return to those and more inward into my imagination. I then walked past India sitting in a beautiful bright gallery on Brewer Street and we all decided to make it happen!
Nichole: You tell it Net!
India Rose: What mythical creatures did you pretend to be as a child?
Nichole: Growing up I was obsessed with fairies and spent most of my time creating elaborate fairy gardens. It was so large it took up half of my mother’s actual garden. I still remember seeing the fairies and speaking to them. They were there. Come to think of it, It was only when I lost my virginity that the fairies disappeared... I think that’s why as an adult I spend so much time in my own garden trying to uncover in the soil my dreams and inspiration. Trying to find them again. I know they’re there. Don’t fairies enjoy sex too? Nymph. Nymphomaniac?
Nettie: Unfortunately my response is not as good as Nichole’s. I definitely used to pretend to be a mermaid, trying to hold my breath as long and I could and pushing myself forward with my feet and knees together as if to resemble a fish tail. I also used to draw gagged mermaids on the wall in permanent marker, which is a little worrying in hindsight and displeased my mother immensely - as you can imagine - Sorry Mum.
India Rose: And, what would it be now?
Nettie: It would be pretty great to be Pegasus. The ultimate jetsetter.
Nichole: Defiantly still a fairy.
India Rose: Tell us about your decision to call the show ‘Painted blind’.
Nichole: ’Painted Blind’ is an excerpt from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a play by Shakespeare that I take a lot of inspiration from. “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” India, Nettie and I unanimously loved the iconic imagery of ‘Painted Blind’ and how it related to our series about mythology!
India Rose : What was the biggest challenge about creating pieces for this show?
Nettie: The British Heatwave! Trying desperately not to drip sweat all over the paper. No - actually I really enjoyed producing these works and was really tempted to keep going and going until I had covered all mythical creatures... Having said that, you might think I’m exaggerating but it is labour! I had to wind surgical tape around my fingers to prevent blisters forming.
Nichole: My biggest challenge preparing for this show was self doubt and fear. I haven’t shown my work for over two years. I took a personal break from painting which subsequently resulted in me feeling very depressed. But painting also makes me feel depressed. So, there’s no winning there. Although there’s a silver lining, because when I finish a work I always feel relieved and proud! My practice is very much a tug-a-war of emotions.
India Rose: If you could never paint with oils again, Nichole, and Graphite was deemed a poisonous substance, Nettie, what medium would be your second choice?
Nettie: There is no hiding with pencil. It’s where so many artists have started; the source of the stream. It’s perfect for me because I’m far more interested in tonality than colour. It also adds to the mystery of the piece. Most people associate it with the beginning of something, a plan, in this case, I suppose it really is. I prefer to use it as my main medium: the end product. I feel it is able to capture both simplicity and the provocative depth of the subject....Having said that I did make a life size blow up doll made out of polished bronze for a show in LA last year, which was a huge departure....Always come back to drawing though.
Nichole: I work in a lot of other mediums, but if i had to pick something totally new it would probably be paper mache. My partner and Ii have been romanticizing using all the wasted newspaper and mail we get daily to make a giant paper mache sculpture. Let's hope that one day we get to do it.
India Rose: Thanks girls, I think you’ve answered all my questions. I am super excited for this collaboration with the three of us! It’s going to be magical.