Zoe Cameron sets challenges for herself and her audience – where does she fit into Modern British Art? By all accounts Zoe stands counter to modernism, observing life and modern society with painted stories that remind us of how to live a good life.
Zoe’s one-woman show at The Art Room presented a room full of ‘Life’s Truths’ as Zoe puts it. The world may be following its path but this artist treads her own, and invited us to follow and recognise ourselves and elements from our own lives within the 46 works.
The exhibition was the culmination of 3 years of work for Cameron, whose career extends over 35 years. Her oil paintings are distinctive, including figures pulled from different time frames, exploring contemporary and all-embracing subject matter, the imagery gleaned from her own childhood or borrowed from someone else’s.
The Fable Wall
The presentation of “The Fable Wall” had 28 paintings, hung in 3 tiers increasing in size, one row above the other on the gable end wall of the gallery. This form of presentation is a response to the time Cameron spent working and studying in Italy, absorbing the work in churches and palaces by artists like Giambattista Tiepolo or Paolo Veronese.
The imagery and content of her work owes more to her interest in human nature and artists like Longhi and Goya (to whom she makes a reference).
The collection is on stretched canvas with the exception of the two shaped works. All of the Fable paintings remain unframed to achieve a cohesion when they are hung together.
Her grandmother was a great influence as a story teller, giving art books for Zoe to look at in bed. “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli and Hogarth’s “Shrimp Girl” are among Zoe’s early memories.
How to Live a Good Life
The “How to Live a Good Life” collection of 18 paintings took Zoe more than a year to complete. The subject matter came from long distance conversations she had by phone with her younger sister Naomi.
As the older sibling Zoe often found herself trying to dispense words of love and wisdom. One night when the artist had been ill in bed with a migraine for several days the 18 titles came to her in one go.
The paintings have titles like “Don’t carry regrets from the past”, “Take care of your mind and body” and “Show respect and consideration for all living things”. Many of these paintings are quite small to create an intimacy when looking into them, encouraging us to re ect on our own adult wisdom and experience when looking at the perhaps less than informed characters in her compositions, rather like a single frame soap opera.
Cameron’s imagery openly draws on her childhood. With isolation amongst grown ups, she became an observer of others and her closeness with nature and animals grew.
She developed into a shy child and adolescent who at school and local church loved religious studies for the imagery the moral tales prompted.