Day Tripper

Day Tripper
20 July - 13 October 2019
Focal Point Gallery

‘Day Tripper’ brings together painter Liz Arnold (1964-2001) with two contemporary artists, Maria Farrar and Samara Scott, in consideration of the continued relevance of Arnold’s original and inventive practice.

Arnold lived her teenage years in Southend-on Sea, and like many at this formative time of life found herself trapped between child and adulthood, out-growing her past and surroundings, longing for the excitement of an unknown future. Her imaginary fantasies continued to play out in her paintings, which feature a cast of cartoon-like absurd characters such as mutant bugs and militant drumsticks that are deployed with dark humour. These feature alongside accessories such as nail varnish, handbags, coffee and alcohol that appear symbolically in otherwise empty rooms. Windows through which the animated characters gaze longingly appear in most of the painted interiors, conveying a desire to escape from the banality of day-to-day life. Arnold’s paintings are suspended in-between the dream-world and the reality of modern-day anxieties and emotional unrest.

Samara Scott’s work lures the viewer into her installations with the use of luscious textures and substances such as toothpaste, hair gel, food pigments and make-up, seducing us into our own world of consumerism. Comparatively Arnold’s gritty, stark interiors offer visual clues to suggest the escapism of beauty products or alcohol, such as pools of spilled nail polish and Malibu bottles. Scott expresses her concern for this materialist world through inclusion of perhaps more sinister objects on further inspection. A shared palette of saturated, luminescent colours also connects the two artists. Scott’s presentation of work will extend to Southend High Street in which a newly commissioned work will adorn the façade of the central railway bridge for the duration of the exhibition.

Maria Farrar’s paintings are deeply connected to personal narratives; her experiences as a child growing up in Japan, then moving to the UK. Domestic interiors are depicted, as in Arnold’s paintings, with different types of furniture and household objects, particularly beds, whose appearance and presence is playfully exaggerated. Both use animals in their work in intriguing ways, either anthropomorphized, or used as a human disguise, questioning the identity of the figures, and in which world they might belong.

Arnold’s paintings and her ideas offer a glimpse into a moment in time, whilst also speaking eloquently about contemporary concerns to present and future audiences. In her short lifetime she took on roles not only as an artist but as a teacher, an activist and a campaigner for animal rights, environmental and ecological issues, and women’s rights. Her distinctly female viewpoint within a history of painting that remains dominated by male artists leaves an important living legacy. Arnold’s influence on other artists has been far and wide and this exhibition sets out to remind us that we still have a lot to learn from this extraordinary late-90s painter.