Miranda Forrester on her work and female representation throughout art history

by Cass Art

Artist Miranda Forrester portrays queer womxn with an unveiling intimacy whilst subverting the traditional tropes of the male gaze. Exploring the domestic environments for LGBTIQA+ people, her paintings capture insular moments surrounded by comfort through lounging gestures, slouching plants and enticing spaciousness. We spoke to Miranda all about her painting process, the history of female representation throughout art history and how the Black Lives Matter movement has affected the contemporary art world.

Hi Miranda, thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us today. Firstly, could you tell us a little about your journey as an artist?

I graduated from the University of Brighton in 2019, and upon graduation was awarded the Cass Art Phoenix Studio award, providing me with a funded studio space for a year. Since then, I have been working in my studio in London and exhibiting internationally, at galleries such as the Saatchi Gallery, The Mall Galleries and Christie’s Education.

In your practice your use of stretching plastic over stretchers and painting on highly primed smooth surfaces is very unique. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process, how you approach a work?

I make me drawings from life and then select which drawings would work best on plastic or on canvas. The plastic has quite a unique surface in the sense that the brush strokes are accentuated, and shadows are created behind the work, allowing me to experiment with layering. I am also able to make the paintings on plastic more quickly as the canvas paintings require a lot of prep, so I use them more when I am experimenting and trying out new ideas.


One thing I notice when I look at your work is the figures you depict have an element of anonymity about them, also with just the use of their initials in the titles. Could you talk to us about why this is an important feature in your work?

Yes, this is for several reasons. I really want the viewer to feel that the figures could be them, that they could step into the painting, and really identify with that body. I also don’t see the paintings as portraits of a specific person, but more as a representation of a community that is relatable. Furthermore, I wanted to protect the people who sit for me, sometimes they are new to life modelling or participating because of their personal relationship with me/our mutual trust, so it feels right to respect their anonymity– only we know which painting is of whom.


A lot of your work centres around the invisibility of womxn of colour in the history of art. How do you think the art industry and change this so they can be better represented?

I think historically, black women and women of colour artists have not really been thought of as some of ‘great artists’, their work has gone unrecognised, especially when the work explores black identity. Systemic and institutional racism has ensured that these voices don’t have a platform. It’s great to see a more diverse representation of artists in the past few years in the big awards and galleries, such as the Turner Prize and the Tate, most notably this year. I think race and representation is something that all galleries and institutions should think about and understand. Also, institutions and public and private collections can begin purposefully acquiring more works by black artists.


Recently Black Lives Matter has taken the no. 1 spot in an annual power list which attempts to rank movers and shakers of the contemporary art world. How do you think this has or will impact the art world in terms of better representation of black artists?

I think ultimately it has impacted the art world positively thus far, I know for me personally and many of my peers, interest in our work has spiked since the Black Lives Matter protests last year. It is hard to distinguish if this is meaningful change that will sustain or becoming a sort of ‘trend’ that will pass. Time will tell! But I hope that it has opened people’s eyes to the incredible breadth of work being made by black artists today, and increased visibility for these artists.


If we were to take a wander into your studio what materials would we find and why are these key to your practice?

My oil paints – I use Michael Harding oil paints and would be nothing without my yellow ochre! I use some mediums with my paint, such as Winsor and Newton Stand Oil, and Liquin.  Also, my lino cutter set and soft cut linos which I have been using recently to make prints. 


On that not after graduating from the University of Brighton you were awarded a studio residency at Phoenix Art Space which you recently completed. Could you talk to us about this experience?

This was really an incredible experience for me. I was awarded a free studio for a year, in Brighton, a really great space that I felt really at home at. It was invaluable to me, that I was able to continue making work without the pressure of paying for a studio, that I knew I had access to that space 24/7 and for a set period of time. Everyone at Phoenix was great and although I missed out on some of the usual projects and events like the open studios, it made it even more clear to me to make the most of the space and not take it for granted!


Finally, after the strange year that was 2020, have you got any projects coming up this year we can keep an eye out for?

I have worked on a commission for soho house which I am looking forward to revealing more details of this year. I am working on a commission for a hotel in Toronto which is coming up this year, as well as my show on currently at Studi0 gallery in St Moritz, Switzerland, showing some large scale paintings.

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us Miranda.

You can check out Miranda's wonderful portfolio of work on her website and be sure to follow her on Instagram too.


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