Artist
Spotlight

Artist
Spotlight

Adelaide Damoah

Meet Adelaide. Multidisciplinary artist, painter, and performer, Adelaide expresses herself with body and soul to examine social issues including colonialism, feminism, spirituality, and joy.

“I work in an unusual way when I work with paint in that I put my whole body into it. This is exciting for me as it allows me to truly embody and maximize my expression in a way that I was not able to access when I painted in a more traditional way. This flexibility and expansiveness is exciting and interesting to me. It is thrilling to imagine just how far I can take this.”

Watch her in action below.

Meet Adelaide. Multidisciplinary artist, painter, and performer

INTERVIEW WITH ADELAIDE DAMOAH

We had a chance to catch up with Adelaide to learn more about her inspiration, process, and work.

  • Can you please tell me your name and where you are from…
    Adelaide Damoah. I was born and raised in London UK.
  • Can you tell us a bit about your work?
    I am a multidisciplinary artist and I use investigative practices including painting, performance, collage and photographic processes to examine various social issues including colonialism, feminism, spirituality and latterly joy.
  • What was the first piece of work that really impacted you and made you consider becoming an artist? Who was the artist?
    That was Diego On My Mind, a self-portrait by Frida Kahlo! I was introduced to her work when I was around age 14 in art class. I vividly remember an entire project based on her work. I made a copy of this painting as a drawing. I still have it somewhere… I then made my own self-portrait inspired by it. I was so struck by her ability to convey emotion in her uniquely surreal way that for a long time I tried to make work like her. From that moment on, I knew I was an artist and despite going on to study first accountancy and then science at university, I continued to draw and paint in this style and continued to do so even once I entered the corporate world.
  • Where do you find inspiration for your work?
    At the moment, I don’t feel I have to search for inspiration as it is all around me. I am working on a lifetime project called Confronting Colonisation all the time and the source material I have for this is endless. I am constantly inspired by the books I read and by my artist friends and colleagues, as well as curators and gallerists I work with. I am constantly inspired and motivated by my mentors who work across a range of disciplines including law, photography and film. Finally, I am constantly inspired by my mentee whose drive and ambition fills me with pride and joy!
  • Do you have a particular plan/routine when you start painting? OR Would you say that you have a routine in your creative process, or is it more organic?
    I don’t have a set routine but ultimately, what I do depends on the particular project or piece that I am working on. My processes both inside the studio and in performance are organic and intuitive, but they have at their core a lot of reading, researching, thinking and soul searching. All of my accumulated experience, knowledge and passion directs the work in a way that is difficult to explain and easier to demonstrate. When working on body print works, there is body memory and instinct which dictates how I position myself. When I am using photographic processes like cyanotype or image transfer techniques, there is a certain amount of thinking and planning, but mostly the work is experimental and intuitive. I enjoy the beauty of imperfection and of what others may deem to be mistakes.
  • What is a typical studio day for you? Do you listen to music? Are your materials chaotic or are you super organized?
    There is no such thing as a typical studio day! What I do in the studio on a particular day depends on what I am working on. If I am working on cyanotypes and image transfer, the studio is much cleaner. If I am painting or using pigment, the stuff gets everywhere because those works tend to be large. There are experimental works everywhere. On the walls, on the chairs and on the table. My studio is chaotic and messy. When I work with pigment, it gets all over the place! I tend to warn people to wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty on studio visits because, during those times, it is inevitable that you will get pigment of some kind on you. I have a shelving system so you could say it is more organised chaos as I know where everything is. What I listen to depends on my mood. Sometimes I listen to art podcasts all day and other times I listen to audiobooks. This tends to be when I am working on photographic process and collage/image transfer type works for some reason. When I am painting, I am more likely to listen to music. This can vary drastically depending on my mood and on the colours I am using. Loud colours tend to get me in the mood for 90’s hip hop and R&B, deep house or afrobeats. More muted colours and moods get me in the mood for classical piano music. Regardless of mood, I am currently obsessed with a classical pianist called Joep Beving. I currently have his latest work on repeat. Another playlist I am obsessed with at the moment is Max Richter. I can listen to him all day. On the flip side, I am in love with FKA Twigs and Moses. I have them both on the same Apple playlist for some reason. They just work together for me and I love them.
  • How has your work evolved this year? Have you had to adapt in response to COVID-19?
    Yes, I found myself wanting to make work for the joy of it rather than to examine my usual social issues. I found myself craving intense colours like hot pink, purple and cobalt blue. I went with it and let myself explore. Up until this point, I have tended to use muted and arguably sombre colours in a lot of work- of course with the exception of ultramarine blue and red with the This Is Me series of work. Black and gold were my go-to for Genesis. Making work for the pure joy of it has been a healing and cathartic experience. Going into the studio has been an escape into another world where only the joy of colour, beauty and sound exists and it has been a lot of fun. This inevitably leaked into my more serious work so now there are some works with the image of my great grandmother- which has been used repeatedly in multiple works as kind of a jump-off point to discuss colonialism and empire while mythologising her- have now incorporated that beautiful hot pink and are infused with its pure joy. I made ten works in direct response to the crisis- the series is called Dreams Of Overcoming. The works accompanied a poem which speaks directly about the crisis using metaphor. I performed the piece in August of 2020, just after we came out of the first lockdown. This was the first time I had performed a poem in 11 years. This was another cathartic and healing experience which felt very needed at the time. So yes, there was organic growth and adaptation to the situation. It was not planned, it just unfolded in that way and I opened up to it willingly.
  • What do you still find exciting about painting as a medium?
    I work in an unusual way when I work with paint in that I put my whole body into it. This is exciting for me as it allows me to truly embody and maximise my expression in a way that I was not able to access when I painted in a more traditional way. This flexibility and expansiveness is exciting and interesting to me. It is thrilling to imagine just how far I can take this.
  • How do you find working with Liquitex materials?
    At the moment, I am using a lot of Liquitex professional acrylic inks and setting sprays for my pigments. The colours of the inks are intense and satisfying. They are water-resistant which is great because when working with paper, I tend to use the inks to dye the paper multiple times and then soak the paper in water (once dried) before dying again. The same applies to canvas. I will throw ink at the canvas, let it dry (it dries very quickly) and then go over it again with a different colour. Sometimes I’ll add pigment, spray the pigment with Liquitex setting varnish and then go over again with more ink. I use the satin spray varnish and it works very well for these processes, even when I have to layer multiple times. Some of the inks also work very well with staining paper to use for cyanotypes, which is fantastic- as not all inks work with this process. I am completely in love with the iridescent inks! They have this subtle quality which is just beautiful on small intimate works.
  • How does the environment around you impact your work – do the things you encounter in your day to day feed into your paintings? How so?
    In my flat, I am surrounded by endless books. They feed my practice by feeding my brain! I’m generally always reading at least one book and on a day to day, I’ll pick up a book of poems and read something which can spark ideas. Sometimes it goes somewhere, other times not. Sometimes I’ll just journal about those thoughts and ideas. Then there is the environment outside. I am surrounded by gorgeous green spaces and my flat and studio are right on top of a lovely lake with swans and ducks. I can see them from my living room window and sometimes go out to feed them. Seeing them and hearing them is comforting and calming. Lately, I have been using dried grasses from my local area in my cyanotypes while contemplating the intersection between environmentalism and colonialism- inspired by conversations with my friend Dr Jasmine Pradessito- an amazing artist whose main passion is environmentalism which she explores very beautifully and subtly in her work. The environment in which I live, the natural environment outside and the people around me all impact me in meaningful ways and this inevitably comes out in the work.

STUDIO PLAYLIST

What’s the soundtrack to Adelaide's work? Listen to her exclusive Spotify playlist here.

PREVIOUS ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS