Back in April, Canadian artist, Ola Volo, came to Brighton to paint her first mural in our fair city. While the sun shone on Over Street, Volo found herself chatting to the people of Brighton as she worked, and she soon realised her piece was the perfect fit for such a creative town.
While the mural was being painted, the gallery was inundated with requests for a print of Volo’s work. We’re delighted to announce that Joker is available now, exclusively at Enter Gallery.
In today’s blog we’re chatting to Volo to learn more this exclusive release and to hear more about her love affair with Brighton, and the people that call it home.
Volo’s empowering oeuvre is characterised by portraits and large-scale murals of commanding women. Her works are inspired by the folklore tales Volo’s grandmother told her as a child when she was living in Kazakhstan.
Timeless and otherworldly, Volo’s women exude a quiet and compelling sense of self-assurance that can’t help but make the observer feel the same way. Volo reveals:
“I never want my women to feel small on the wall or confined in the spaces. I want them to fill the space and look comfortable doing so. I want them to be liberated and I think because I have that intention, people walk away with that empowered feeling. There’s a sort of attitude, a sense of powerful femininity that both men and women can relate to.”
In this new print, Volo’s subject surveys her opponent over her sunglasses. By her stance, and assertive gaze, it’s clear she has no concerns of being outwitted by anyone. Her confidence is clear for all to see. Volo explains how she came up with this subject, and why she feels it’s a perfect match for Brighton:
“When I created this mural, I immediately thought – this is the girl, she needs to be on that wall in Brighton. I remember bouncing some ideas around with friends, and they suggested going a bit more timid. At the time, I hadn’t been to Brighton, but I just had this feeling that this woman would fit in with the people there, and when I got there – I knew she was exactly the right character to represent that wall, and that corner. I framed her to take up as much space as possible on that wall. She’s entirely unapologetic about everything she is, just like the people of Brighton.”
“I wanted to create something timeless. There’s Art Nouveau influenced patterns within the piece and her outfit has a kind of joker aspect that could fit into any time period. She looks like a modern woman, but could just as easily come from the past or the future. When I got to Brighton I felt the same way about the people here – people aren’t tied to certain trends or time periods. It’s a timeless place.”
Colour is important to Volo’s work, and this is reflected in the fact that Joker is available in a choice of three different finishes – copper, silver, or gold leaf. We asked Volo to tell us a little more about how she chooses her colours to complement her works:
“As a woman, taking bold approaches to my work is very empowering. Throughout the years, I’ve seen my palette shift from black and white to pale and pastel colours and now, I’m in this era of choosing bold colours and making bold decisions and for me, it reflects the evolution of my creative process.”
“Joker also has this colour palette that’s very in your face. Primary colours – red, black, greys, white, silvers. They stop you in your tracks, and remind you of something very primal. The copper, gold and silver finishes that you can choose from really elevate the image to a whole new level. It’s already playful, and these different finishes are playful too. The way each piece reflects the light allows you to interact with it.”
We know that Brighton is a special place, but it’s always wonderful to hear just how quickly Enter Gallery’s international artists connect with our home town when they visit. For Volo, that connection was immediate. She tells us:
“I completely fell in love with Brighton when I was there. I travel all the time and see a lot of places, but there is something special about Brighton. It has a soul. The minute you walk out of that train station, you’re like – oh, it’s happening. There’s a real energy in the air.”
Volo has painted murals around the world, and some of them are so enormous, they take up the sides of entire apartment buildings, or can be seen from the sky while planes come into land. In Brighton, things were a little different…not only was her canvas smaller than usual, but she was on the ground rather than in a cherry picker. She tells us:
“I usually work on really large walls, and those murals are so big that you’re up in the air for many hours a day. It has a big impact on the community but as a creative, to make it happen, you have to spend a lot of time alone in the studio creating, on rooftops or in the sky, so getting the chance to meet and interact with people like I did in Brighton is something I craved and really cherished.”
“That wall in Brighton wasn’t a large wall, but it had a large impact. This is because of the choices of colour and character, but also because of the placement of the wall. It’s such a great spot with lots of foot traffic. When I was creating the piece, I was standing on the street talking to every single person that walked by. It made me realise how important that connection is. I loved every second.”
Joker is available exclusively at Enter Gallery now. Get yours here.
Ola Volo’s mural is located on the corner of Trafalgar Street and Over Street, just a short walk from Brighton train station. Swing by to see it for yourself.