this artist’s work is all phallic shapes and fertility

Fertility Field is the latest offering from British artist and Itchy Scratchy Patchy co-founder Christabel MacGreevy.

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01 December 2017, 11:19am

For 26-year-old Christabel MacGreevy, a career in the arts has always been part of the grand master plan. As a kid, she would spend her days drawing anything and everything on every surface imaginable. Her grandma, Anthea Craigmyle, was a keen painter and a big inspiration for Christabel growing up. “She was definitely instrumental in encouraging my creativity,” Christabel explains. In fact, her grandmother’s sudden and tragic passing earlier this year was the impetus and inspiration behind Christabel’s first solo show.

Until then, Christabel had gone more or less down the fashion route. After a graduating from CSM in 2014, with a degree in Fine Arts, she and long-time partner in crime Edie Campbell founded Itchy Scratchy Patchy, a quintessentially British tongue-in-cheek clothing line that makes everything from satirical patches and DIY denim to customised boiler suits and powerful slogan berets.

Picking up her pencil once more, last September Christabel enrolled at London’s prestigious Royal Drawing School. "Drawing is the most basic way to document ideas, thoughts and emotions”, she says. “You can do it alone, with minimal equipment. It is a great starting point but I also love it as an end in itself. I love how self-reliant you can be drawing.”

After a year of intense creativity, Christabel is preparing to exhibit her final project, Fertility Field, as part of the Royal Drawing School’s upcoming open studio exhibition. Rich in colour, texture, embellishment and pattern, Fertility Field is a 12-part series of playful papier-mâché sculptures. Christabel was inspired by a photograph she found of Thailand’s legendary Phra Nang Princess cave, which is filled with a collection of carved wooden phallic symbols, offerings and other objects believed to help with fertility. These are presented with nine drawings rendered in a riot of red, pink, orange and yellow household gloss paint, thick black charcoal lines, and baby blue squiggles.

Often dedicating eight hours a day to her work, Christabel notes that the manual process is actually quite cathartic: “It takes you into a very calm headspace where your mind roams free while your hands continue on autopilot.”

When it comes to some great mystic underlying meaning, Christabel is very much leaving interpretation in the hands of the viewer. However, she hopes that viewers will enjoy it on a visual level, as she says herself, “the colours are quite tasty!”

Fertility Field will be on view from 7-9:30pm at 129-131 Mare Street in London on Friday 1 December 2017, from 11am-5pm over the following weekend and 5 - 9 December.