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Betsy Bradley

Betsy Bradley has a non-hierarchical, expanded notion of painting. She subverts painterly conventions and creates joyful, sublime paintings which she exhibits in dynamic environments.

For Betsy, the act of painting is meditation. Starting with a ritualistic approach to her materials, her paintings are then completed in a single sitting, during which she improvises, is guided by her intuition and takes cues from her creative tools. Each canvas can be seen as a record of a transition between the pre-meditative and the automatic dialogue between her mind and her body, and captures the exhilaration of their spontaneous creation.

In preparing her canvases, Betsy uses fabric that has been carefully and playfully selected from local haberdasheries and markets for their varied opacities. Her current preference is for the lightest fabrics possible, for the way in which they suspend the paint in space, meaning her marks are almost structural, active elements in a composition, able to cast a shadow, as opposed to being a static layer of paint upon a canvas.

The tools Betsy uses to paint are unconventional: she rummages in discount stores, gleans discarded objects from the street and improvises in her studio. They speak of the reality of sustaining an artistic practice today and question the status of painting. Windscreen wiper blades become palette knives, several large masonry brushes are glued together to become a larger brush and cat litter trays become oversize palettes.

Betsy’s used tools later become sculptural devices in her exhibitions. They are a segue between dimensions, allowing her paintings to leak from the wall and into the gallery space. Recently, Betsy has adopted the inclusion of interactive components which further engage the viewer as participant: for example transforming a painted canvas into a hammock or the seat of a swing.

Edited by Sophie Netchaef