Overview

Olivia Sterling parallels modes of othering through painting cropped domestic scenes. These scenes focus on blackness, whiteness, and racism's small indignities and violence through a "slapstick" sensibility.

Olivia Sterling parallels modes of othering through painting cropped domestic scenes. These scenes focus on blackness, whiteness, and racism’s small indignities and violence through a “slapstick” sensibility. Paintings are often populated with letters and lines, regularly indicating the nearest colour to draw attention to the inanity of the language of race. One might see a “white” hand accompanied by ‘p’, for pink or peach, in contrast to the supposedly superior, pure white, which takes the form of a sticky, liquid ooze.

 

Her paintings are often set in bathrooms, kitchens, and playgrounds, private or public areas — any place where racism’s macro- and microaggressions might occur. These locations also suggest a variety of transformations, from raw to cooked, dirty to clean, cool to burnt. Sterling believes this aligns with moments of othering and certain observed social phenomena like blackfishing or new modes of exoticization. 

 

In reaction to growing up in a countryside town in England, Olivia Sterling’s paintings often reference British identity by containing specific icons of the British experience, ranging from Victoria sponge cakes, milk bottles, double cream, and Pink Panther biscuits to Girl Guides imagery and plug sockets. Through the use of these objects she wishes to bind her experience as a black woman to its inalienable Britishness, and to tether the paintings to a specific time and place. 

 

 

Works
Biography

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

 

Education 

2015-2018  BA Fine Art, University of Derby

2018-2020 MA Painting, Royal College of Art 

 

Solo Exhibitions

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

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

 

Residencies 

2020 HQI Summer residency, London

2016 Extended Contexts, National Trust IIam, England 

 

Artist Talks 

2020 HoP Around with Alexandria Smith, RCA, London 

2020 Without a Painter in Conversation with Bolane Tajudeen, London

2019 Artist Talk, UCA Farnham

 

Awards 

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

Press
Exhibitions