Falmouth student Olivia Healy creates Refuge auction artwork

BBH London is hosting an auction in aid of Refuge on March 30. Artworks from big names such as Jean Jullien and Hattie Stewart will be for sale, and joining them is Olivia Healy, an illustration student from Falmouth. We talk to her about her work.

Olivia Healy Refuge

This is the second year that BBH London has arranged an auction of incredible artwork in aid of Refuge. She Lights Up The Night raised over £30,000 for the women’s charity last year, and with artworks from the likes of Jon Burgerman, Siggi Eggertsson and Crispin Finn on offer this year, the hope is that the 2017 auction will be similarly successful (see full list of artists participating here). The auction takes place on March 30, but you can bid on the artworks now at shelightsupthenight.com.

Joining these names is Olivia Healy, chosen from submissions from students across the country to be part of the project. According to BBH producer Rachel Wickham, she was picked to join the auction by the established artists.

“For me, Olivia’s proposal and final artwork stood out as her themes about support and empowerment for women really resonate with Refuge’s philosophy and approach in working with survivors of domestic violence,” says Wickham of Healy’s work. “It was an intelligent approach and her themes translate into her screenprint nicely. Her characters are lovely, I really like how one supports and lifts up the other.”

Olivia Healy Refuge
Celestial Sisters, Healy’s artwork that is being auctioned for Refuge on March 30

Shown above is Healy’s screenprint for the auction, alongside a number of her other illustrations. Below we talk to her about her work and what it’s been like to be part of the Refuge project.

Creative Review: Where are you studying, and what course? When will you graduate?
Olivia Healy: I study Illustration at Falmouth University. This is my last year so I’ll be finishing up with uni work in the next month and then the graduation is in July.

CR: How would you describe the work you make?
OH: My work is all very figurative, about people and nature. I really value female strength or the strength of femininity so this is something that I often try to convey within my work. I get a lot of influences from ancient Egyptian art, Japanese ukioy-e prints, counter-cultures, and gender-ambiguity. With my pictures I try to depict the essence of a person rather than depict something that is too representational.

Olivia Healy Refuge

CR: What was your idea for the Refuge project?
OH: For this project I thought that it was very important to create a positive image of women helping one another. There is a lot of controversy right now about female rights, feminism, and I feel like people are trying to pit women up against other women. I really just wanted to depict something that shows solidarity among women. With woman’s rights under threat, it is very important that they support one another in the demand for equality and empowerment.

CR: How has your experience of being part of the project been – have you been working with any of the other artists involved?
OH: I haven’t been working with any of the other artists but have definitely been working closely with the team at BBH, specifically for the promotion of the auction. They created a script and film about the exhibition which I was chosen to be in and it was such a cool experience to be involved in.

Olivia Healy Refuge

CR: What have you learnt from being part of the project?
OH: Refuge has a really brilliant philosophy in their approach to helping people who have been affected by domestic violence. I think the language that they use and the aspects that they chose to highlight in this exhibition have been really great. It helps change the way you think about survivors of abuse and Refuge defines the identity of those survivors as ‘victors’ rather than ‘victims’. I found this so powerful and inspiring, it really shifted my own mindset.

Also the entire project has creatively and career-wise been a huge learning experience. I hadn’t created very much large-format work before this, so with this project I got a chance to create a massive screenprint for the first time and I learned a lot in the process.

CR: What do you hope to do when you graduate?
OH: I really want to dive right into illustration. I have a lot of children’s book ideas I’ve planned out which I would love to get published. They are mostly about indigenous peoples and our relationship with nature. One of them focuses on the spiritual significance of the DAPL pipeline controversy for the Sioux tribe. I would really love to finish that book soon so it has a bigger relevance and can hopefully get families interested in the protest or what they can do to help.

Olivia Healy Refuge

You can see more of Healy’s work at cargocollective.com/oliviamhealy. The Refuge auction takes place on March 30: for more info or to bid online, visit shelightsupthenight.com

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