Studio Visit With Mary-Louise Bicket

8 Jun 2014
Mary-Louise is inspired by the vibrancy of life, its many layers and complexities which can be seen in her work. When asked, she describes her work as falling into a Pop Art genre similar to the works of Robert Rauschenburg and, more recently, Mustafa Maluka, who have hugely influenced her approach to handling surfaces and colour. When not painting, she is a mother to three children, a long distance open-water swimmer and a writer. Every aspect of her life inspires her to create and sends her back to the studio. She prefers large scale works, finding them more interactive as they occupy one’s space and demand attention. In her own words, “I hope my audience will enjoy my works and feel the same sense of excitement that I felt creating them.”

Favourite material to work with?
I like to work with mixed media as it best suits the freedom of my work. I use collage, oils, spray paint, pastels, charcoal and acrylics. I also use found materials such like tiles, metal, cement grates whatever interests me.

What themes do you pursue?
My themes are varied but I like to stick to urban images and portraits. Photographs I’ve taken of the inner city and the people in it inspire me as well as media and magazines. I like to deal with what's fashionable so this is constantly changing with the times. I enjoy exploring colour and textures and create multi layered paintings. Although they have stories attached to them they are mostly personal explorations of the subject and I’d prefer that the viewer extract their own meaning from the works.

How many years an artist?
I have been an artist since I graduated from Michaelis in 1991. I have however been painting and creating sculptures from found materials since I can remember. It was my passion from an early age.

Where is your studio?
I work from home. I used to have a beautiful studio above Mama Africa in Long Street but I have moved to Hout Bay and its just too far to travel especially as I like to work at night and sometimes through the night. I work from start to finish on a painting sometimes staying up for nights until it’s finished which is only really possible to do from home.

Art school or self-taught?
I studied at UCT and majored in sculpture although I completed three years of painting and also studied printmaking, textile design and photography.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I definitely prefer to work with music. I mostly work to Norah Jones but my computer is full of music that my children and I have downloaded and sometimes I like the upbeat, surprise element of that instead.

Favourite brush?
My favourite brush is honestly whatever's closest at hand and the right size to fit my purpose. today it was a size three Prime Art brush, nice and fat and soft perfect for covering large areas.

Where can we find you out side of the studio?
Outside of the studio I’m on campus right now furthering my studies or you’ll find me at Lazari’s coffee shop in Vredehoek every morning before going for a long swim either in the pool or the ocean.

If you couldn't be an artist, what would you do?
If I couldn’t be an artist I would be a teacher, I love to share my experiences of art with teenagers and see how they grow from them.

What do you collect?
I collect art books, found materials for my work, wrapping papers and textiles which I use in my work and art.

'Cup Cakes' 61 cm x 81cm

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I can’t remember the best advice I was given as an artist but if I were to give any advice it would be to be true to your inspiration and follow your course whether it happens to be popular or not. Be true to yourself and always be original.

Day job?
I don’t have a day job at the moment I’m too busy studying and painting.

Is painting dead?
Painting is definitely not dead there are some truly inspirational artists working out there who convey both inspirational messages to the world and also just create a breathtaking aesthetic. New artists are emerging all the time and I urge people to collect early on in their careers as art is a solid investment.

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