Think intoxicatingly fun and vivid snapshots of utopian wonderlands, filled with women, animals and a pure, infinite sense of glamour and perfect freedom, and you’re almost there. With her intricately constructed, dreamlike sensoryscapes, Ruth has the world of make-belief sassiness, vivacious colourways and grace notes in kitsch at her feet, gold VW Beetle included.
From moulding plasticine fantasylands as a kid to venturing off on her bicycle as a free thinking teenager to find an idyllic spot to draw and paint and obsess over colour flow, Ruth has always been a curator of imagery and utopian worlds of the fun and the fantastic. She hails to have unknowingly been into kitsch, so perhaps it’s no wonder that in her late teenage years – and to celebrate passing her driving test – she was given a gold VW Beetle by her Father, used to perfect effect; Ruth would drive to Hatfield College for life-drawing classes, often veering to the south coast, as if drawn to the neon lights, the smell of popcorn, the colour of candy floss, the fakery and the Victoriana. This would become an image-rich source for Ruth, a culture she connected with because pleasure was the principle, and Ruth wanted to create a slice of it. In 1997, Ruth moved to Scotland to enrol in Glasgow’s prestigious School of Art, studying English initially and quickly switching to Art. It was here where Ruth fell in love with the visceral nature of painting, the sheer joy and luxury of the feeling painting provides. The School was a breeding ground for Ruth to connect with fellow artists and to learn to understand exhibiting and the art of making art. Throughout her years at art school Ruth would journey to Blackpool to spend time taking photos of seaside life in all its glory.
This process of collating imagery has always been key to Ruth’s process of carefully, instinctively selecting what works for the betterment of her joyous, surreal visions of very pure happiness. Ruth used images from large indoor poos and Blackpool seafront for her Graduation Show paintings, fusing the real and the unreal with a sense of happy-kitsch-fun; for the biggest painting in the group, After The Pool Closed, to go alongside the calmness of flumes inside a swimming pool at night, shining luminous with swirls of yellow, Ruth adroitly introduced a large flock of standing pink flamingos in the water. In another painting, Rock Shop, Ruth used the same degrees of cool, contemporary kitsch – a cake stand on a big trolley propped up against the promenade and plugged in to prevent the chocolate treats from melting. During her studies, Ruth held a residency at The Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, Paris, for three months, setting up studio in a small box flat on a tiny street in Montmartre. Ruth would methodically cover large areas of Paris en foot, sketching, watching and taking photos – constantly expanding her image bank of life and raw inspiration..
Following art school, Ruth moved to the capital, before being seduced again by Brighton’s neon lights. In 2007, Ruth set up home and work on the south coast. This is where it all begins for Ruth because her work embodies pure play, pure joy; Ruth Mulvie is a pop art puppet master who imagines characters, places and worlds of wonder and tailors them meticulously for your viewing pleasure. Along this two-way street, Ruth experiences joy, romance and luxury in every brushstroke - and it shows. Just one of the reasons why her work has happy written all over it and why private collectors all over the world have a slice of Ruth’s very unique take on happiness hanging on their wall.
Ruth Mulvie has a selection of works currently on show at the West Beach Bar and Kitchen, in the British Airways i360 building, located on the sea front opposite the West Pier.
*Click on images below for larger view