Art Works: Ronan Somerville

Interview: LeftLion
Thursday 07 February 2019
reading time: min, words

Ronan's illustrated chess board is decorated with meaningful creatures...


I’m still trying to consolidate what I deem my “practice” to be. Am I an artist or a designer? Do I use illustration or installation? I still have the luxury of space to develop into, which is really exciting for me.

This piece is an illustrated chess board, complete with handmade clay chess pieces in a matching style. It’s called J’adoube, which is a chess term meaning “I adjust” used to inform your opponent that you do not want to move your piece, you only mean to adjust the placement.

It was part of the Royal Academy A-Level Summer Exhibition, and was accepted to exhibit with UKYA in Nottingham all before I’d finished my A-Level exams; I’ll be the youngest exhibitor in the Nottingham UKYA Takeover.

I started without a plan and just added new ideas to it over the course of a few months. At the time I didn’t have a studio space, so I hung it from the wardrobe door in my bedroom and returned to it each night. The full set of 32 chess pieces is still under construction… my student loan doesn’t allow for much in the way of art supplies.

My illustrative style is inspired largely by Ralph Steadman, Martin Handford’s Where’s Wally?, and The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film. This illustration is depicting a world occupied by magical creatures and chaotic happenings, and it’s really a metaphor for both mine and everybody else’s subconscious.

The imagery has been collated from individual drawings in my sketchbooks, some from my low points and some from my high points. Confronting my personal history and coalescing together separate moments of joy and pain into one fluid environment stands testament to the idea that I am the result of all that has happened to me, and that the same can be said about everyone.

Ronan’s work can be seen in Broadmarsh as part of the UKYA City Takeover, taking place across the city from Thursday 7 - Wednesday 13 February. All events are free.

UK Young Artist website

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