Artist Showcase: Oliver McAinsh


‘Perception is perhaps the strongest feature of my practice.  By creating my own links and analogies to different subjects I am able to challenge those of the viewer’s. I try to keep a strong knowingness of the audience when creating my images; how different people will perceive different aspects, and I find enjoyment out of guessing what analogies they may associate with them.  Space is important for this.  Physically it is blank space on the paper but it plays it’s part in grounding the object, giving it scale, function, hierarchy etc, all based on the audience’s interpretation of it.  For this reason I refer to it as ‘perceptional’ space.’  – an excerpt from Oliver’s manifesto.

For those who haven’t seen Oliver’s drawings, they are painstakingly neat with a meticulous attention to detail. The laborious nature of Oliver’s illustrations means that he is a familiar face in the studio, always hunched over his desk, and most probably pencilling in a beard hair on baby.

His passion for illustration began when he was a child, but has evolved into a more precise and applied practice. His technique allows him to make clearer representations to the subject he is conveying, and it is his own analogies that make the subject his own. ‘We all have our own view of the world and my drawings are prescriptive interpretations of that.’

He has enforced a creative restriction on himself by primarily using graphite pencils.  The non-permanent nature through context and process, as well as their versatility for mark making and expression appeals to him.  It is this contrast between the detailed pencil drawings and the blank page that has become somewhat of a trademark in Oliver’s portfolio.

His drawings are present in their space, without defining the shape that contains them. By isolating an object, he is leaving out its surroundings to create an intimate and focused relationship with the viewer.  It has to sit comfortably on the page with room to breathe so the audience is drawn to the object through the vacant yet perceptual space surrounding it and not being framed by the confines of the paper.

See more of his work at


Written by Anna White

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