Hattie Stewart on Painting a Huge, Bright Artwork You Can Lie On and Relax

Hattie discusses the concept, composition and creation of a new artwork across the floor at the Now Gallery in London, where you can lie and look up at yourself in the mirror on the ceiling.

Lying in a bright sky full of fluffy clouds, standing in a galaxy with colourful poo emoji or between flowers with cheeky faces is all part of London illustrator and doodle-bomb queen Hattie Stewart's new exhibition at Now Gallery.

She's created a giant, floor-length illustration involving her iconic psychedelic, cartoon-style characters and ambitious geometric patterns for her solo exhibition, I Don’t Have Time For This in Greenwich Peninsula. The illustration – painted onto a wooden stage with a team of helpers – reflects onto an equally-giant mirror on the gallery ceiling, inviting punters to lie directly in the middle of her piece, among her four different worlds (best demonstrated in the video). By looking up at yourself, you’re allowing time to ponder, daydream, or simply be still (something we rarely make time for anymore).

I went to see I Don't Have Time For This and sat down with Hattie to find out the concept behind her artwork – read our interview below or enjoy the video above..  

"This painting gave me an opportunity to do an illustration which was purely an illustration. I wanted to make sure there were different sections for people to engage in so it isn’t just one theme," says Hattie.

Specifically wanting to create immersive art but steering clear of virtual reality, cameras or "anything of that ilk", Hattie’s vision was to "create something small and make it so much bigger", taking the style of her iconic doodle bombs on magazine covers – usually surrounding celebrities – and making the viewer feel as though they are the subject of a magazine cover themselves.

"It’s about making time, having a moment to sit back, relax, chill out and have fun. It’s a form of therapy. I hope that for the half hour you get to experience it you might feel a little lighter in life."

Commissioned by the gallery’s cultural curator Kaia Charles, the free exhibition from May 16 to June 25 invites participation with Hattie’s illustrations, references to art from the 60s and post-modern classics like Who Framed Roger Rabbit (paying homage to her youth), offering the viewer a clean break from reality.

It marks the beginning of the gallery’s Young Artist programme, which aims to help a new vision for the gallery space and contribute to the on-going regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula.

"As a young artist you don’t always have an opportunity to create work in these kinds of spaces," says Hattie. "London is such a big city; there are a lot of small spaces to fill, but finally, this was a huge beautiful space which invites you to create a piece of work."

Hattie has added her playful doodle bomb style to the covers Vogue, Playboy and Interview for artists such as Ariana Grande, Kylie Minogue and brands including Apple, MTV, Nike and Marc Jacobs – but here, she had no specific subject to work with.

Instead she faced the daunting opportunity of complete creative freedom, creating a digital illustration before putting together the physical installation.

It's the first time Hattie has worked with a team of people to help bring one of her projects to life. She was helped by a group of artists who she’d been following online for a while to paint the entire artwork in just four days. Studio iam and True Staging helped put together the staging and mirror.

"It was nice to be social. Being freelance can be so isolating sometimes, you can forget how to talk to people," she says.

"Doing the peeling of the masking tape with the perfect lines underneath was just arousing," she laughs. "That was really, really cool."

To book your free time slot to see I Don’t Have Time For This, see here

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