Olivia Sterling


Sterling has carved out a distinctive niche in using paint to address questions of blackness and whiteness in twenty-first century Britain. 

Born in Peterborough in 1996 and graduating from the RCA in 2020, Sterling has carved out a distinctive niche in using paint to address questions of blackness and whiteness in twenty-first century Britain. Her paintings present scenes of colourful mayhem with a nostalgic twist and signature ‘slapstick’ style, combining joyous celebration with a subtle critique of racialised ways of seeing.  
Blending pointed references like this into her depiction of ordinary scenes and subjects, Sterling’s work reflects on how we are confronted by racialised discourse everywhere in the everyday. Even happy or anodyne spaces are encoded with structures of othering and difference; every object, every skin tone, is assigned its place in a drama that continues beyond the edges of the canvas. 




B. 1996, Peterborough, England. Based in London, UK. 



2015-2018  BA Fine Art, University of Derby

2018-2020 MA Painting, Royal College of Art 


Solo Exhibitions

2021 Solo Show, Guts Gallery, UK (forthcoming) 

2021 White Bread, Cob Gallery, London, UK 

2021 Episodes, CCA Goldsmiths, London, UK (forthcoming)

2020 Clutching at Straws, Volt, Eastbourne

2020 It Clings like a Leech, Guts Gallery, London

2020 A Cure for Nose Bleeds, Marriots Way, Reepham Norfolk

2018 Who is civilised? Gallery No.1, Repton


Group Exhibitions


2021 Universes 4, Galerie Droste, Paris (forthcoming)

2021 A New Art World, Guts Gallery, London 

2021 'Introducing' at the Shop, Sadie Coles x Guts Gallery, London  

2021 Citizens of Memory, The Perimeter, London 

2021 Summer Show, Karen Tronel Gallery, London 

2021 Safe as Milk, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh 

2021 Selfhood, Berntson Bhattacharjee Gallery, London 

2020 Curated for Christmas, All Mouth x Bowes-Parris Gallery, London

2020 RCA Black History Online, David Lisbon, Online 

2020 Love your symptom, but not too much, Blank Projects, Cape Town  

2020 A Rudimentary Education, Art Lacuna, London

2020 London Grads Now, Saatchi Gallery, London

2020 Right Back at You, The Function Suite, London

2020 Begin Again, Guts Gallery, Online

2020 BLACK & WHITE, The Orange Garden, Online 

2020 50/50, FOLD Gallery, London

2020 London’s New Contemporaries, A Space for Art, Hari Hotel London 

2020 Materiality and Connection, curated by Joe Hill, RCA, Online  

2020 Optimistic, Singular and New, curated by Jony Ive, RCA, Online  

2020 Urgency, Wit and Rigour, curated by John Bloomfield, RCA, Online  

2020 I Graduated From My Bedroom curated by Victor Wang, RCA, Online  

2020 Slivers and Remnants curated by Esther Leslie, RCA, Online  

2020 RCA2020, RCA, Online  

2020 Tomorrow: London, White Cube, Online 

2020 Without a Painter, Fitzrovia Gallery, London

2020 Snapshot, RCA Hockney Gallery, London

2019 Meet Me in the Kitchen, UCA Farnham, Surrey 

2019 Got it for Cheap, House of Vans, London   

2019 Painting from the Other Side, Dyson Gallery, London

2018 WIP, Sackler, RCA Battersea

2018 Britannia Mill, Derby 

2017 Smoke and Mirrors, Riverlights, Derby, England

2016 Ilam, Staffordshire

2014 Earth without Art, Spalding, England



2021 Fores Residency 

2020 HQI Summer residency, London

2016 Extended Contexts, National Trust IIam, England 


Artist Talks 

2021 In-conversation: Olivia Sterling and Sam Kindon for Volt Wastbourne 

2021 Drawing Around Food: A Socio-political & Cultural Exploration, Drawing Room, London 

2020 HoP Around with Alexandria Smith, RCA, London 

2020 Without a Painter in Conversation with Bolane Tajudeen, London

2019 Artist Talk, UCA Farnham



2018 Pro Vice-Chancellor / Dean's Award 2018 Degree Show Exhibition


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