Olivia Shimeld: Order out of Disorder

The more you peer into the colourful works of Olivia Shimeld, the more they transport you into a new and shifting world. Erin Irwin writes.

Tucked away in her garden cabin overlooking a view of the Blue Mountains, artist Olivia Shimeld looks both outward and inward for inspiration.

“I observe the colours in the sky and the way the light interacts with the clouds, and store those images in my memory bank,” she says. “I work from imagination, intuition and interaction.”

The results are high intensity, uplifting works, bustling with colour and texture. Layering acrylics and aerosol paint alongside oil sticks and oil paint, Olivia’s art is saturated with movement and life.

Olivia originally undertook a Bachelor of Visual Art majoring in Electronic and Temporal Art at the Sydney College of the Arts in the late 1990s, just as the world was emerging into the digital age. This was a very exciting time for the artist who says, “I always carried my video camera with me and was looking at the world through that lens.” Over time, she eventually transitioned into a painting practice, honing her skills over six years under the tutelage of Celia Gullett.

“The thing I love about paintings are that they are physical objects,” says Olivia. “You don’t need any special equipment to experience my paintings.”

With a busy family life as mother to four children, she realised it was simply not possible to do everything. Her work in paint acts as a form of meditation, drawing the other aspects of her life and education into her work practice, and creating a combination which, simply, made her happiest.

Though she prefers to work within a series, no two works are the same. Her Falling Leaves series, exhibited in October 2020 at Day Fine Art in Blackheath, comprises bold floral abstractions, each based around the spontaneous and random application of stencilled motifs – almost as if the leaves fell onto the canvas of their own accord. She then works into the arrangement to unify the piece, making order out of disorder.

This series is partially an exploration of the nature she lives among, but is also one of introspection within a chaotic world, symbolising the randomness universally experienced over the past year. However, it is an optimistic image of 2020, with an appreciation that change can be faced with flexibility and going with the flow of our shifting world.

She is also currently working on her Night Sky series, which is more minimalist in style and abstracts landscapes. Vivid blues with slashes of greens, violets and reds render moody skies, with a glossy finish interspersed with stretches of waxy matte oils.

Each of Olivia’s works are simultaneously considered and spontaneous, producing bold and bright windows into her mind. Her practice of layering colour and texture creates wonderfully rich works, reflecting the great joy the act of painting brings to the artist.

Featured image: Olivia Shimeld, Dark Night Sky 2. Acrylic and oil on canvas, framed in oak, 60 x 60cm. Courtesy: the artist.

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